A Great Realignment?

As Democrats gain college-educated voters, they're losing Hispanics and men.

Recent Axios addition Josh Kraushaar, a longtime political analyst, crunches the numbers from several recent polls and sees something of a political realignment occurring in American politics.

In yesterday’s installment, “The Democratic electorate’s seismic shift,” he tells us that “Democrats now have a bigger advantage among white college graduates than they do with nonwhite voters, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.” As a result, he contends,

We’re seeing a political realignment in real time.

• Democrats are becoming the party of upscale voters concerned more about issues like gun control and abortion rights.

• Republicans are quietly building a multiracial coalition of working-class voters, with inflation as an accelerant.

He adds,

House Republicans boast this year’s class of new candidates is the most diverse in history. The NRCC notes that 29 of its 75 House targets have a Hispanic population over 15%.

In the Times/Siena pollDs hold a 20-point advantage over Rs among white college-educated voters — but are statistically tied among Hispanics. Hispanic voters backed Democrats by a nearly 50-point margin in the 2018 midterms. In the 2016 congressional elections, Dems lost white voters with a bachelor’s degree.

He continues the analysis in today’s hit, “The great realignment.”

Shifts in the demographics of the two parties’ supporters — taking place before our eyes — are arguably the biggest political story of our time.

The big picture: Republicans are becoming more working class and a little more multiracial. Democrats are becoming more elite and a little more white.

Why it matters: Democrats’ hopes for retaining power rest on nonwhite voters remaining a reliable part of the party’s coalition. Democrats’ theory of the case collapses if Republicans make even incremental gains with those voters. Even small inroads with Hispanic voters could tip a number of Democratic-held swing seats to the GOP.

What the data show: Democrats are statistically tied with Republicans among Hispanics on the generic congressional ballot, according to a New York Times-Siena College poll out this week. Dems held a 47-point edge with Hispanics during the 2018 midterms.

• An NBC News poll in April found Democrats held a 38-point lead among women with college degrees — up from 10 points from 2010. Democrats lost ground with nearly every other demographic group tested in the survey. 

• Nearly every House pickup in the 2020 election came from a woman or non-white challenger. The GOP’s ability to win back a House majority this year rests on the success of candidates breaking the party’s typical mold.

We’ve been seeing this play out for a bit but we tend to explain away seeming anomalies as one-offs. Yes, Trump did better with Hispanics in 2016 than Romney did in 2012 despite constantly saying racist things. But, hey, Romney was running against a person of color and Trump was running against a woman, so cultural biases could be implicated. But we saw the same thing in 2020.

Again, it seems bizarre. Trump’s border policy was widely decried as racist and cruel. And yet they shifted in his direction. Kraushaar seems to attribute this to class experiences.

Between the lines: Add the reality of growing inflation and worries of recession, and you see why Democrats are losing ground with a core part of their coalition.

• Wealthier Americans aren’t feeling the day-to-day hardship hitting the working class.

• This week’s Times/Siena poll found affluent voters care about gun control and abortion rights. Working-class voters are squarely focused on the economy.

Reality check: Suburban districts still make up the majority of congressional battlegrounds, and the GOP’s Trumpified brand remains a threat to limit their gains.

• Republican candidates holding extreme views on abortion or echoing Trump’s election lies are still toxic in the suburbs.

• Since the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, Democrats have made small gains in national polls.

The bottom line: The GOP is trading soccer moms for Walmart dads.

To some extent, this makes sense. If you’re making $100,000 a year or more, an extra $100 a month for gas or $50 a week for groceries is annoying but not life-altering. And, while abortion rights objectively impact poor and minority women more than affluent white women—who can easily travel to another state if necessary—they’re simply not top of mind if you’re struggling to make ends meet.

I have to think a lot of this shift is cultural, too. Increasingly, working class and professional people simply see the world in vastly different ways on everything from things like defunding the police to whether men can get pregnant. And I would think a significant number of Black and Hispanic voters see the emphasis on these issues as counterproductive.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I think there are some clear shifts going on, but I think that the piece is over-emphasizing “working class voters” in a way that I am not sure that the data support (I need to look at it more carefully before saying anything definitive).

    It is difficult, for example, to make broad claims about the “working class” if Black voters, many of whom are working class, still overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Likewise, I would like to see a more nuanced analysis of the Latino vote.

    I also feel like the analysis in cited above is more about headlines and clicks than it is about deep analysis (it is, after all, Axios).

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  2. “Republicans are becoming more working class and a little more multiracial. Democrats are becoming more elite and a little more white.”

    Emphases mine.

    “A little” does not a Great Alignment make.

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  3. Modulo Myself says:

    This is just dumb analysis. The generic poll has Democrats at 41% and Republicans at 40%. Both parties have significant Hispanic support. The Republicans have 3% of black voters, which almost 100% explains what multi-racial means for Republicans. Republicans have around 30% support for voters between 18-44 which blows a hole in the idea that the economy is a driving factor in Republican support. Rather ‘economy ‘ is code for ignoring other things in this country, unless you believe that voters between 18-44 have zero economic concerns or are all college grads (who all went to Harvard or Oberlin and majored in Woke Studies, because nobody goes into business after going to State U).

    The whole thing is just dumb.

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  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As other response to the quoted article have pointed out, the news often treats “working class” as interchangeable with “uneducated” which is not actually the case, and is an important distinction in terms of the current realignment

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  5. steve says:

    Looks like this is mostly about Hispanic votes. I think that a number of Hispanics who are here and maybe went through the system are angry about people getting across illegally and being accepted. There are also a lot of culturally conservative Hispanics. Abortion, trans and gay rights, CRT are going to lose them.

    Steve

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  6. Kathy says:

    Three simple rules for life:

    1) Fire is hot
    2) Water is wet
    3) Headlines are sensational

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  7. Modulo Myself says:

    The real story seems to be that voters between 30-44 are about the same as 18-29. ~30% support for the GOP in 2022 with Biden as president is insanely low, and it’s not as if the voters between 18-44 are all radical liberals. You can get the rubes to laugh about how men can’t be pregnant but if vast numbers of people who are at the age when you have children are turning against you, what is the end game here?

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  8. Kari Q says:

    The poll shows a statistical tie among Hispanic voters four years after Democrats had a 47 point advantage? A nearly 50 point swing in 4 years? That seems unlikely. Not impossible, but highly improbable.

    Time will tell, but I have my doubts.

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  9. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Republicans are becoming more working class and a little more multiracial. Democrats are becoming more elite and a little more white.”

    Emphases mine.

    “A little” does not a Great Alignment make.

    First this.

    Secondly, we’re also running into one of the biggest challenges of how “Hispanic” has historically and continues to be been used as a racial category inside the US. The challenge social scientists have been calling out for years is that it is an ethnic category, not a racial one. Hence you can have “white Hispanics” and “Black Hispanics” (among others). The fact that many surveys don’t account for race AND ethnicity creates many challenges in interpreting the data.

    Additionally, we need to consider that “white” as a cultural racial category continues to shift and so people who at one time were not historically considered “white” as they accumulate differing levels of cultural acceptance can move into the category.

    Until we have more tracking of both race and ethnicity, it’s entirely possible that the Hispanics moving towards the Republican party are more “white” than the rest of the ethnically Hispanic population of the US.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    Beyond cultural issues, such as abortion, gay and trans rights etc, among immigrant groups that tend conservative in their view, Dems are too often perceived as being negative on America and don’t believe the country offers opportunity for those willing to strive for it. We can blame most of that perception on the twitter left and their academic fellow travelers, but not all of it.

    For many Dems, their view of being a member of a ethnic/racial minority group in America is defined by the experience of Black Americans that are descendents of slaves and take the view that other minority groups have a view of America that (white) Dems believe Blacks do.

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  11. mattbernius says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    For many Dems, their view of being a member of a ethnic/racial minority group in America is defined by the experience of Black Americans that are descendents of slaves and take the view that other minority groups have a view of America that (white) Dems believe Blacks do.

    This is a really important point. I would extend this beyond Democrats to many Liberals as well.

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  12. Scott F. says:

    From Kraushaar’s first installment:

    Republicans are quietly building a multiracial coalition of working-class voters, with inflation as an accelerant.

    Accelerants burn quickly, then flame out.

    Once voters figure out that Republicans don’t have an answer for inflation – beyond more tax cuts for the rich, that is – what is going to keep working-class voters (however poorly defined) in the Republican coalition? How does a multi-racial coalition help the Republicans when the GOP’s most active policy work is focused on the disenfranchisement of people of color? That’s quite a needle they have to thread – suppressing the vote of Hispanics generally is sure to lose them a non-significant number of these new voters, doncha think?

  13. JKB says:

    Again, it seems bizarre. Trump’s border policy was widely decried as racist and cruel. And yet they shifted in his direction.

    Yes, the Democrat aligned media did decry it as racist and cruel. But the illegal immigrants directly impact Hispanic voters in the US. They move to those communities to blend in. Even a 90/10 split of economic migrants to criminals in the illegal border crossers increases the crime in the communities. It is the American Hispanics whose kids are harassed and recruited into the gangs. You talk about illegal immigration from south of the border, they live it.

    But as a famous doctor recently told us Hispanics are as diverse as breakfast tacos. And that statement is bizarre.

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  14. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: ““A little” does not a Great Alignment make.”

    Yeah, try getting clicks with that headline, smarty.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @wr: @Steven L. Taylor: I agree that “great realignment” is too grandiose a description of what’s going on. This is nothing like the slow-rolling realignment that turned Southern Democrats into Republicans over the course of 20-25 years. But this smaller claim is more defensible:

    Democrats’ hopes for retaining power rest on nonwhite voters remaining a reliable part of the party’s coalition. Democrats’ theory of the case collapses if Republicans make even incremental gains with those voters. Even small inroads with Hispanic voters could tip a number of Democratic-held swing seats to the GOP.

    The “Coming Democratic Majority” thesis rested on Hispanics staying solidly Democratic as their share of the population increased. Even Texeira admits that he overestimated that.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    We can blame most of that perception on the twitter left and their academic fellow travelers, but not all of it.

    I agree with the thrust of your comment, but I have to quibble with this. Both parties have a fringe, on the left the fringe wants to use complicated sexual terminology and not call pulled pork and coleslaw banh mi (an overstatement as that “protest” didn’t actually happen, which supports my point). On the right the fringe wants to do ethnic cleansing and outlaw birth control. But the RW fringe is largely invisible in the MSM.

    The problem, in my mind, isn’t that the left has a fringe. There’s bound to be a fringe, and I don’t see how, in an age of social media, we squelch them. The problem is that the Right has a very effective propaganda apparatus and the left does not. And in between we have a largely feckless MSM. The MSM is accused of being liberal. In reality they seem to put a lot of effort into trying to not be seen as liberal. The left fringe is highly visible not because they are large or influential, but because FOX “News” is constantly searching for new targets for outrage.

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  17. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    For many Dems, their view of being a member of a ethnic/racial minority group in America is defined by the experience of Black Americans that are descendents of slaves and take the view that other minority groups have a view of America that (white) Dems believe Blacks do.

    There’s also their notion that demographics are monolithic. Dems talk about “the black vote” and “the Hispanic vote” as if a stock broker in NYC and a waitress in Mobile think the same way and want the same things just because of the color of their skin.

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  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Once voters figure out that Republicans don’t have an answer for inflation – beyond more tax cuts for the rich, that is – what is going to keep working-class voters (however poorly defined) in the Republican coalition?

    Appeals to bigotry and anti-“eliteism”. Same as before. GOPs don’t have a policy answer to anything. Never have. Doesn’t seem to hurt them.

    And they do have a plan for inflation, They plan to let Biden and the FED take care of it, then step in and take credit. Same as TFG took credit for Obama’s recovery.

    I’ll add that I’ve predicted for years the GOPs would eventually let Hispanics, at least “white” hispanics be white. Just like they did for Italians, Poles, and Irish.

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  19. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “Dems talk about “the black vote” and “the Hispanic vote” as if a stock broker in NYC and a waitress in Mobile think the same way and want the same things just because of the color of their skin.”

    Which is why Dems are the real racists. Republicans don’t assume that a stock broker in NYC and a waitress in Mobile think the same way because of the color of the skin — they simply deprive both of their ability to vote and then don’t have to worry about how they think.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    Inflation is unlikely to go away quickly.

    There is a huge economic shift taking place. China is in a demographic collapse even as its government becomes more totalitarian. The whole ‘China as the factory of the world’ thing is over. In fact manufacturing is returning to North America because Mexican workers are now more productive than the Chinese and we are (for now) more politically stable. China is a net importer of food and energy, both running into shortages exacerbated by Covid and Putin’s war.

    Cheap food, cheap energy are not coming back any time soon. The US will outperform most of the world simply because we are both food and energy self-sufficient and demographically stable thanks to our ability to absorb immigrants. But it won’t be cheap, at least not soon.

    What’s so odd is that we are having domestic turmoil at a time when the US is the clear global winner. Russia is revealed as largely impotent. China is in decline. There’s a reason the dollar is so strong – the world is voting with its money. Five years ago it was commonplace to talk about the US being replaced as world leader by China. Now not so much. We should be feeling pretty good about our lot compared to literally every other important country on earth.

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  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    Ruy Teixeira

    The crosstabs provided by Echelon allow for a comparison of strong progressives’ basic political views with those of Hispanic and working class voters. Here are some examples:

    1. America is not the greatest country in the world vs. America is the greatest country in the world. By 66 percent to 28 percent, strong progressives say America is not the greatest country in the world. By 70-23, Hispanics say the reverse and working class voters as a whole concur by 69-23.

    2. Racism is built into our society, including into its policies and institutions vs. Racism comes from individuals who hold racist views, not from our society and institutions. Strong progressives are very, very sure of America’s systemic racism, endorsing the first statement by an amazing 94-6 margin. But Hispanics disagree, endorsing the second statement that racism comes from individuals by 58-36, as do working class voters by 57-33.

    3. The government should deal with illegal immigration by making it easier to immigrate to the US legally vs. The government should deal with illegal immigration by increasing border security and enforcement. Strong progressives have no doubts on this one, favoring easier immigration by 97-2. Hispanics, however, are split down the middle with 44 percent favoring increased border security and enforcement and 47 percent opting for easier immigration. Working class voters go farther, endorsing more border security and enforcement by 58-32.

    4. Transgender athletes should be able to play on sports teams that match their current gender identity vs. Transgender athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that match their birth gender. Strong progressives overwhelmingly endorse allowing athletes to play on the sports team that matches their gender identity by 66-19. But Hispanic voters by 64-22 say athletes should only play on teams that match their birth gender; working class voters are almost identical at 63-22.

    5. We need to reallocate funding from police departments to social services vs. We need to fully fund the budget for police departments. Strong progressives want to reallocate police funding by 87-12. In contrast, Hispanic voters want full funding of the police by 50-41 and working class voters are even stronger on full funding by 59-31.

    6. Hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people vs. Most people who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard. Strong progressives don’t evidence much faith in upper mobility, endorsing the first statement on the questionable efficacy of hard work by 88-12. Hispanic voters, on the other hand, embrace the view that hard-working people are likely to get ahead by 55-39, as do working class voters by 55-40.

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  22. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Which of those achievements allows the average American to put food on the table, fuel the car, work decent hours, save money for an emergency, afford medical care, put their children through college, etc.?

    It’s not just that inflation is bad for the average person, but that it comes when wages were showing the first un-anemic signs of growth in decades.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Quoted some dude:

    The crosstabs provided by Echelon allow for a comparison of strong progressives’ basic political views with those of Hispanic and working class voters.

    I think it’s a mistake to compare strong progressives and Hispanics, and then attempt to infer anything about Democrats as a whole. Especially when there is data on Democrats/Democrat-Leaning.

    It’s cherry picking the data to produce exciting sounding results that don’t mean much.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08:

    I’ll add that I’ve predicted for years the GOPs would eventually let Hispanics, at least “white” hispanics be white. Just like they did for Italians, Poles, and Irish.

    Yup. That’s the big realignment right there. Even “white nationalist” groups like the Proud Boys are bringing in Latinos.

    (They are less white nationalist than anti-black and anti-Jew and anti- queer)

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  25. DK says:

    And I would think a significant number of Black and Hispanic voters see the emphasis on these issues as counterproductive.

    Pray, who is “emphasizing” these issues? Biden? Fetterman? Warnock? Hassan? Mark Kelly?

    I think it’s cute Republican are happy then can get three black voters instead of two and ten “Hispanics” instead of nine. Of course, considering Republican disapproval among youth voters across racial lines, they’ll be back to WHITES ONLY in a decade or so. But, hey, good for them.

  26. DK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Dems talk about “the black vote” and “the Hispanic vote” as if a stock broker in NYC and a waitress in Mobile think the same way and want the same things just because of the color of their skin.

    90-95% of “the black vote” votes Democratic. The chances a black NYC stock broker and a black Mobile waitress (his beloved cousin who fought bullies off him as a kid) want the same things for America are actually very high. My young professional graduate degreed black self is almost always in lockstep political alignment with my “working class” high school grad sisters in Savannah.

    It’s not because of the color of our skin tho, it’s just decency and morals. Me getting advanced degrees and moving to Los Angeles and Berlin, and my family back home not doing so, doesn’t change the fact that for all of us right is right and wrong is wrong.

    Stock broker or waitress: Donald “The Blacks” Trump is a lying, racist scumbag, and his enabling party of hypocritical, bigoted, selfish phonies is trash.

    At least for black folk. We don’t really get what some other cohorts are doing right now.

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