The Democrats’ Privileged College-Kid Problem

Shor acknowledges that some versions of this class of highly educated neophytes have been an integral part of Democratic Party politics since at least the 1960s, but argues that the downstream political impact of this demographic imbalance has only worsened as the educational polarization has increased. that is, the tendency of highly educated voters to lean Democrats and less educated voters to lean Republicans – has exacerbated the ideological divide between Democratic employees and median voters.

“It has always been that this group was higher in socio-economic status and younger and all these other things, but the extent to which those prejudices played a role has changed a lot in the past decade,” Shor said.

According to Shor, there are two ways to compensate for these prejudices. The first is for Democratic candidates and their staff to adopt a stricter messaging discipline – in short, to “speak in plain language about popular things that people care about,” as Shor previously defined his preferred mode of messaging reluctance . This approach would not prevent Democrats from discussing progressively coded policy ideas that enjoy broad public support, such as introducing a wealth tax on high earners or requiring workers to be represented on company boards.

In the longer term, however, the party will need to raise the political and news preferences of its moderate black, Hispanic, and working class supporters over the preferences of young, highly educated, and liberal workers.

“We’re really lucky that in the Democratic Party we have a lot of relatively moderate, economically progressive people who have halfway above average views on social issues, religiosity and all that other stuff, and the only thing is, most of them are it doesn’t. “knows,” Shor said. “Someone mockingly told me that we should book Maxine Waters instead of randomly [Black Lives Matter] Activists, and I think that’s right. I think we should probably care what [Congressional Black Caucus] Members think about things. “

Of course, Shor’s theory could be completely wrong – and many on the left think it is.

“It’s both confused and wrong,” said Steve Phillips, founder of the political strategy group Democracy in Color and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Ironically, critics like Phillips Shors agree with the premise that the demographics of the Democratic Party’s workforce does not reflect the demographics of its key constituents, but they claim that the main problem is that those workers are too white, not that the staff is too young or too liberal. From this modified premise, they draw the exact opposite conclusion about the party’s message: that the Democrats need to duplicate a bolder vision of progressive change rather than retreat to the center.

“It is true that the leadership and too many employees of the Democratic Party – and especially in the progressive ecosystem – are largely white … [and] The problem with the fact that the political leadership of the progressive part of the Democratic Party is disproportionately white is that you don’t have people with cultural competence [in communities of color]”There are no fighter natures and so the approach is to compromise, soften, avoid and tiptoe when we are in an open battle,” said Phillips.

In many ways, the Shor and Phillips disagreement follows the same fault lines that emerged among Democratic officials in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election. For example, in Phillips’ analysis, the party underperformed in 2020 because the Democrats failed to develop its progressive basenot because the progressives’ support for activist social positions would have alienated the swing voters. Shor, a longtime partisan in the Persuasion versus voter turnout debate, says that the theory that the outcome of the 2020 election was the result of differences in turnout, rather than changes in voting, “comes closest to flat earthherism in politics.”

“That’s just an empirical question,” he says, quoting data which suggest that the change of vote has historically played a much more significant role in determining the election result than the change in voter turnout.

But the question of whether Democrats should embrace the bold, progressive vision of young party activists is definitely not an empirical question – even if the positions of Shors and Phillip differ from their interpretation of a handful of data points about the demographic and ideological leanings of the electorate.

The first point of contention concerns whether non-voters in general – and young non-voting black people in particular – support a bold message of progressive change or a moderate message based on populist political positions. Shor and Phillips refer to different sets of data to support their arguments. In short, for example quotes the original survey this indicates that only one in four non-voters describes themselves as liberal, while three in four describe themselves as moderate or conservative. The results of Shor are supplemented by the results of a. confirmed Study 2020 by the Knight Foundation, which found that only 20 percent of non-voters consider themselves decidedly liberal, while nearly 60 percent fall in the middle of the ideological spectrum. “It turns out that non-voters actually don’t have particularly strong ideological biases because if they did they would vote,” Shor said.

Meanwhile, Phillips, who is Black, argues that Shor profoundly misunderstands the ideological preferences of the moderates and conservative blacks. To support his claim, he shows a recent Gallup poll who found high levels of support among blacks and Hispanics for progressively coded proposals to reduce police funding. “If you’ve spent some time in a black hair salon or salon, you can understand some of the complexities and potential contradictions surrounding the views of different blacks,” Phillips said.

The second set of disagreements concerns whether a higher turnout among younger, multiracial voters could materially alter the outcome of national elections. Shor says Democrats’ expectation that long-term demographic shifts would give the party a semi-permanent majority has failed, and the rural bias of the Senate and electoral college will soon make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win a government majority, without winning back at least some rural swing voters in the key purple states.

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