Nate Cohn, writing in the New York Times, did his best to put some lipstick on a pig yesterday by suggesting that the impending Republican victory (which he has been busily trying to suggest will not happen) isn’t really bad news for Democrats at all. Cohn’s article is fairly typical of the completely evidence-free wishful thinking I recall our side engaging in during the latter stages of 2006 and indicates some hope that the Democrats intend to learn nothing from their coming chastisement at the hands of the voters. Cohn’s thesis is as follows:
But perhaps more important to the party’s long-term prospects than Tuesday’s results is what unfolds in the presidential battleground states. If the night ends with tight races in Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado and Georgia, as the polls suggest, then the results will not be as great for Republicans as many analysts will surely proclaim.
Even if the Republicans win these states, which would all but ensure Senate control, it will probably be mostly because of low midterm turnout among Democratic-leaning young and nonwhite voters. The implication would be that Republican Senate candidates did not win many voters who supported President Obama in 2012. And it would suggest that Republicans have made little progress in attracting voters they would need to take back the White House.
It’s an interesting point by Cohn, but if you read the article, you’ll notice something important – Cohn cites literally no polling evidence to back his hypothesis that the GOP has failed to make inroads in typically Democratic constituencies. The only evidence he even references is that the share of the white vote in a number of key states will continue to dwindle as years go on. This much has been known for years. But with respect to the actual point of his article – that the GOP is just turning out the white male vote while not persuading any other demographic, Cohn cites no polls to verify his point.
There’s a very simple reason for that fact: the polling evidence that exists completely disproves Cohn’s thesis.
For instance, no group was more vital to the Democrats’ victories in 2012 than women. Democrats recognized this fact heading in to 2014; however, they approached the female vote with all the finesse of Mike Tyson on a coke binge, suggesting that women are interested in nothing but free birth control, which has led poll after poll to indicate that the gender gap has either shrunk or completely disappeared in battleground states. No candidate has been more emblematic of this approach than Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) – who now actually trails among women in Colorado.
Another group that the Obama coalition has depended on for a boost is young people. Voters aged 18 through 29 voted for Obama by a 34 point margin in 2008 and a 23 point margin in 2012. Polling last week indicated that this same group favored a Republican-controlled Congress 51-47. If this polling trend continues, the Democrats stand to permanently lose an entire generation that was poised to take the place of the generation that came of age in the 60s and has stood as a bulwark of Democrat power since.
Another group the Democrats rode to victory in 2008 and 2012 were Hispanics, who voted for Obama over Romney by an astonishing 71-27 margin. A WaPo poll taken last week showed that Hispanics were now mostly indifferent to the fate of Democrats in Congress, as 50% of them said it did not matter if Republicans took control of Congress. More troublingly, of those Hispanics who thought it did matter, 30% said they thought it would be a good thing if Republicans took control of Congress, whereas only 15% said they thought it would be a bad thing. Hispanic anger at broken Democrat promises appears to be real – many advocacy groups have been openly declaring war on the Democrats all year, In Georgia, one of the states highlighted by Cohn where the dwindling white vote is supposed to hurt the GOP in upcoming elections, actual polling shows that Hispanic voters prefer Purdue and Deal. Part of the reason for Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)‘s implosion is his weakening strength among Latino voters.
It is all well and good for despondent Democrats to say that Republicans are only poised for victory due to decreased turnout and to suggest that things will be different in 2016 and beyond as the white male vote continues to shrink. Unfortunately for the cheerleaders who are responsible for maintaining Democrat morale, actual evidence suggest that Democrats are losing their hold on women, young voters, and Hispanics – three groups that are absolutely necessary for their electoral success long term. If these trends continue, it’s not the GOP that is in for long-term trouble.