Each major U.S. party has a political voter base that is vital to its
This is true in most local, state and national elections, and is validated
when significant numbers from these bases are occasionally turned
off by nominees who fail to meet the voters’ standards of character,
personal conduct, policy views or campaign strategy --- and do not
vote as predicted.
It is no surprise, then, that political strategists and candidates pay
considerable attention to the views and concerns of this traditionally
most loyal group of voters.
At each level of electoral politics, the party bases vary, primarily by
geography and demographics, but in general, each party’s base has
become more monolithic ideologically. In the previous period, the
post-war era of 1946 to 1980, each party included voters of opposing
views on specific issues. The classic example was the abortion issue.
There were prominent figures voicing pro-life and pro-choice views
in both the Republican and Democratic parties. This is no longer true.
With a few exceptions, most Republicans officials are pro-life and
most Democratic officials are pro-choice.
Similar increasing divisions have occurred in various ethnic, religious,
economic and gender-sensitive communities, and contributed, prior to
recently, to certain political generalizations and conventional wisdom.
In 2016, the validity of these presumptions was shattered in the
presidential election. There had been signals of this change previously,
but they had been confined mostly to individual races, and were usually
rationalized as explainable outliers.
The old generalizations of the party bases included that most black,
Hispanic, Jewish, establishment Protestant, ethnic Catholics, big city
residents,and union member voted Democratic, as did a majority of
women. The Republican base included a majority of men, Evangelical
Christians, hunters and gun owners, small business owners, rural,
suburban and exurban voters.
In 2016, notable numbers of some of the Democratic base electorate
voted for Trump in a few key states that had been reliably liberal.
In 2018, some of these “rebel” voters, especially suburban women,
returned to the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections,
particularly in competitive districts and states. Having for years
opposed Obamacareto their advantage, but now controlling the
Congress and White House, Republicans had failed to enact a
At the same time, many of the hitherto heavily Democratic voting
groups, including blacks, Hispanics, Jews and rank-and-file blue
collar workers, continue to change sides as more socially and
economically radical left figures increasingly attempt to dominate
the party’s agenda.
So each party has problems with their old bases --- and consequently,
each party has an opportunity to recreate and expand their base.
As the 2020 presidential cycle begins to unfold in earnest, there are
many signs that Democratic and Republican leaders are preoccupied
with the former, and not paying much attention to the latter.
I suggest such an approach simply fails to learn the lessons of 2016
and 2018 --- and is a prescription for more surprises from the voters
in November twenty-one months from now.
Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.