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Susan Mulligan, writing for U.S. News, points to Voter Participation Center’s report on how the Rising American Electorate will influence upcoming elections:
Democrats thought they had it all figured out in 2016. Unmarried women, young people, Latinos and other ethnic and racial minorities, otherwise known as the “Rising American Electorate,” were going to be the tipping point that handed Democrats a victory. The Democratic-leaning demographic pack was almost certainly going to get Hillary Clinton elected president and eventually make it hard for Republicans to win races in all but the whitest and aged of states.
It didn’t work out that way. Clinton lost the “blue wall” states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, leading the party into another agonizing naval-gazing session. And a consensus emerged that Democrats had foolishly ignored white, working class and middle-class voters, leading voters in struggling, post-industrial states to cast their lot with Donald Trump.
But this year’s November election results have Democrats thinking they shouldn’t be so quick to abandon a Rising American Electorate strategy. From somewhat predictable locales like New Jersey to less likely ones as Kansas, Montana and central Virginia, Democrats won races that would have been longshots even a year ago. And it’s given the out-of-power party hope that energizing these demographic groups next year could win them control of the House and perhaps even the Senate.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., his party’s second-in-command in the House, reckons that there are 91 House seats in play next year, giving the party more than a fighting chance to pick up the 24 seats they’d need to take the majority. Part of that equation is motivating the Rising American Electorate and wooing back at least some of the disaffected white, working class voters (some of whom are now just as disaffected with Trump, Hoyer says).
“We believe our diversity is our strength. We’re the party of inclusion,” Hoyer says. But he stresses that the party needs to deliver a broader message about wages, jobs and the economy. “Are we concerned about our subsets? We are. Does the economy affect people differently? We know that to be the case,” Hoyer says. “But we know that all of them are interested in economic well-being. That’s the common thread that goes through us all.”
The 2017 off-year elections showed strength not just among voters in the Rising American Electorate, but among those who ran and won elections for Democrats. In Virginia, Democrats comprised a record high of 41 percent of voters (compared to 30 percent who identified as Republicans), according to exit polls, and Rising American Electorate groups went big for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Exit polls show that 77 percent of unmarried women went for Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, the Democrat, over Republican Ed Gillespie. That compares to 67 percent of single females who voted for Clinton over Trump in Virginia last year.
Young people, too, turned out to elect Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey Nov. 8, according to data collected by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Nearly three-fourths of voters 18-29 cast ballots for New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy over Republican Kim Guadagno. And in Virginia, turnout among under-30 voters went from 17 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2013 to 34 percent this year, according to CIRCLE. While Northam won the race by a 54-45 percent margin, 69 percent of young voters favored Northam, the group found.
Overall, more than half of the Virginia vote Nov. 8 was from the Rising American Electorate coalition, according to the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, which tracks trends in the voter group.
Further, the winning candidates themselves were drawn from the Rising American Electorate last month. Topeka, Kansas, elected its first Puerto Rican mayor, a single parent named Michelle De La Isla. Helena, Montana, elected as its new mayor Wilmot Collins, a Liberian refugee. Virginia elected its first two Latinas and first female Asian-American to the House of Delegates. Four transgender candidates were elected across the country. Hoboken chose its first Sikh mayor; African-American women won mayoralities in Framingham, Massachusetts and Charlotte, North Carolina, while voters in Statesboro, Georgia, Cairo, Georgia, Milledgeville, Georgia, Georgetown, South Carolina and St. Paul, Minnesota elected their first black mayors.
That’s all tremendously encouraging to Democrats, especially after their deep disappointment over the 2016 results. But there are still warning signs and roadblocks as the party seeks to extend its wins to federal seats next year.
Voters who are part of the Rising American Electorate may be especially motivated by Trump and Republicans, worrying about health care and other policy, says WVWV Action Fund president Page Gardner. But the same group has added barriers to voting, such as voter ID laws, she says. Gardner point to a study from the Voter Participation Center that projected (before last month’s elections) that 40 million fewer people will show up to the polls in 2018 than in 2016 – and two thirds of the dropoff, Gardner says, is expected to be members of the Rising American Electorate. While voter participation is typically lower across-the-board in midterm elections, Gardner says, members of the Rising American Electorate tend to be more mobile, meaning they need to re-register to vote. That puts the onus on parties to motivate and mobilize voters in a year when the presidency is not at stake and voters in general tend to be less interested in going to the trouble of getting to the polls.
Last month’s surprisingly strong showing for Democrats “is a good indicator, but I wouldn’t take it to the bank,” Gardner says.
Read full article here.