Was the 2016 presidential election determined by “economic anxiety” among the white working class? That persistent media narrative has again been shown to be largely untrue.
Writing in the New York Times, Stephen Phillips explained that “hundreds of articles” have argued the importance of pursuing lower-income white voters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 and then “bolted” to Donald Trump last November.
“The far more important — and largely untold — story of the election is that more Obama voters defected to third- and fourth-party candidates than the number who supported Mr. Trump. That is the white flight that should most concern the next D.N.C. chairman, because those voters make up a more promising way to reclaim the White House. The way to win them back is by being more progressive, not less.
Whoever prevails as chairman must resist the pressure to follow an uninformed and ill-fated quest for winning over conservative white working-class voters in the Midwest. The solution for Democrats is not to chase Trump defectors. The path to victory involves reinspiring those whites who drifted to third-party candidates and then focusing on the ample opportunities in the Southwest and the South.”