Democrats will have to do more than appeal to the gender or race of voters if they want to win future elections, a new report from the centrist Democrat group Third Way concludes.
Laying out three basic facts about the American electorate, the Democrat researchers explain away the closely-held notion by the party that the decline of the white voting population will guarantee them the votes needed for decades to come. Instead of appealing to voters as though they are machines that respond according to demographics, Democrats will have to persuade them based on ideas, values and beliefs — what might have seemed obvious until the “demographics is destiny” notion took hold in recent years.
“Assuming long-term stability has led to strategic errors and costly electoral losses, leaving the Democratic Party at its weakest level of representation up and down the ballot in modern history,” Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Jim Kessler write in the report published Wednesday.
To regain power, they write, Democrats have to realize three things. First, voters do not behave like demographic robots — they do in fact switch parties. Second, demographic change is not evenly dispersed across the country, so a national margin might not translate into an electoral college win. And finally, most voters still do not identify as liberal, as has been the case for decades.
“Democrats’ dismal electoral fortunes cannot be denied,” Hatalsky and Kessler write. “The Democratic presidential loss in 2016 was simply the final thumping in a long string of crushing defeats. From the 2009 high water mark for the Party, Democrats have lost 20% of their Senate seats, 25% of their House seats, 45% of their governors, 53% of their state legislative houses, and now the White House.” (RELATED: The Huge Price Democrats Paid Under Eight Years Of Obama)
In order to recover, they conclude, Democrats will have to go back to the basics of politics: persuading voters by “targeting communications, policy ideas, and appeals based on values, beliefs, and experiences — not simply age or race.”
Matt Bennett of Third Way tells Mike Allen in Axios: “Democrats cannot simply rely on demographic change to deliver inevitable victories … [They] are in a huge hole and doubling down on demography as destiny won’t help us dig out of it.”
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