The Democrats' New Base: Romney Voters
FEB 9, 2017 6:30 AM EST
By Conor Sen
There’s a paradox within the Democratic Party right now as leaders plot their path forward. On the one hand, they want to get back to their labor roots. On the other hand, electoral trends will pull them in the other direction: In 2016, the group that most swung toward Democrats was wealthy Mitt Romney voters, who will represent the key to Democrats making electoral gains in 2018.
Democrats would be forgiven for thinking “make labor great again” should be their electoral approach right now. In times of confusion and uncertainty, it’s human nature to go with what you know. Even after losing many working-class white voters to the Republican Party, labor roots in the Democratic Party remain deep. On paper, focusing on those labor roots would please the labor interests within the party, and perhaps would win back some of those straying Trump voters.
The problem is even the recent official strategy of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee acknowledges those aren’t the voters they’ll be targeting. Their main focus will be targeting the 23 seats held by House Republicans in districts that Hillary Clinton won, plus an additional 10 seats in districts that Clinton narrowly lost.
And what we know about those districts that swung toward Clinton is that they’re full of rich people who voted for Romney in 2012. The five Republican-held House districts with the biggest swings toward Democrats in the presidential race in 2016 are in Texas and Georgia. All have average household incomes over $100,000 per year. Three of those five districts are on the DCCC list. Also on the list include four Republican-held districts in Southern California — the 39th, the 45th, the 48th and the 49th — which have average household incomes above $100,000.
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