Demographics aren’t destiny. At least not for Democrats. The idea that the “emerging electorate” is coming to save Democrats is something between fantasy and malpractice, a story that Democrats tell themselves to advance the future they want. The cold truth is that a combination of “voter sorting,” federalism, and identity politics are combining to create the most awful storm- one where the future belongs to the Republican base, and not Democrats.
Democrats like to point out that we’re just a few decades from a majority-minority country. They don’t like to point out how right states will have half the population in twenty years. Yes, 84 Senators will be controlled by the more rural, whiter, older states. They will control judicial nominations, treaties, and legislation in general. They’ll also control the electoral college. When you consider the rural/suburban bias that already exists in the House, it’s pretty clear where things are going.
What does this mean? The Democratic base is basically defenseless. Elections like 2016- Democratic popular vote wins, but Republican electoral college wins- are the new norm, not the exception. Democrats who win national elections will have to have appeal well beyond the Democratic base. Republicans won’t be as broadly appealing, as electoral movements encourage them to look into their party’s base.
When Lyndon Johnson acknowledged the electoral repercussions of his civil rights legislation in the 1960’s, I’m not sure anyone foresaw the America we’re moving into. Democrats could have foreseen losing the South, and their Midwestern problems right now aren’t that hard to figure out. What about the issues they’re having in New England though? They hold just two of six Governorships. Sure, those voters haven’t made the leap to a Trump Republican yet- but Maine and New Hampshire got close.
I’m not saying the Democrats won’t win in 2018- they should do well. I’m not saying a Democrat won’t win in 2020. I’m not saying the Democrats will become the Whigs. I’m saying the trends that began in the 1966 mid-terms, and continued through 1994, 2010, and 2016, aren’t ending soon. The future for Democrats isn’t matching Republican vitriol and ideology. It’s not indulging our impulses. Minus some tremendous course change, it’s not even a very nice place.