But if 2020 is an election driven primarily by anger, that might backfire on Democrats. Take the 2016 election. One reason former Sen. Hillary Clinton was less successful in mobilizing Obama’s base was because her focus on Trump’s bigoted comments attracted some who shared her views but did not resonate with nonwhite voters. “The Clinton campaign bet big on the strategy of highlighting the racist and xenophobic undertones of the Trump campaign,” Phoenix writes, “but its ‘basket of deplorables’ messaging appeared to engender more of a rise from Trump supporters falling under this label than people of color feeling targeted. … [It was] a severe miscalculation of the way people of color respond to political threats.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden faces enormous pressure to turn out nonwhite voters in 2020, but if 2016 is any indication, liberal policy positions alone won’t be enough. Because like the broader anti-Trump resistance movement, the leftward movement of the Democratic Party has been most pronounced among white voters. Even on issues of race, nonwhite voters are no longer significantly more liberal than white Democrats. And research finds that many African American voters identify as conservative despite their strong collective identification with the Democratic Party.