How to deal with the Obama-Trump voters is a tricky proposition for 2020. These are mostly white racists who also believe that they are getting screwed economically. While Trump remains obscenely and disturbingly popular among Republicans, not everyone who voted for him is a Republican. Some are these people. David Leonhardt has a good piece on this, which includes the image above:
These are the sort of voters that some Democrats had written off as irredeemable racists. But that’s a terrible mistake.
On economic issues, swing voters look decidedly un-Republican. They are even more populist than loyal Democrats. By a wide margin, they favor free college, a big expansion of Medicare and federal action both to reduce drug prices and to create jobs.
“These voters want leaders who are going to look out for them,” Alissa Stollwerk of YouGov told me. Trump persuaded many voters that he was their ally by running a racially focused campaign. Democrats have already shown they can win back a meaningful share of them by running an economically focused campaign.
Look at recent history.
It’s not just 2018, either. Populism has fared well as a political strategy over the last generation — a period, not coincidentally, when living standards for most Americans have risen with frustrating slowness.
Trump’s populism is a mirage, but many voters believed it in 2016. He was the rare Republican who criticized free trade and seemed to care more about protecting Medicare than reducing the budget deficit. Trump managed to out-populist Hillary Clinton, and it’s a part of why he won.
Four years earlier, Barack Obama was the populist candidate. He ran for re-election casting himself as the defender of working people and Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy. The 2012 Obama was “more populist than any major party presidential nominee in decades,” as a column in The Guardian put it. The 2008 Obama, of course, ran against the financial crisis occurring on George W. Bush’s watch.
We might want to damn these people to the deepest depths of Hell. But we also need these voters. An economically populist, anti-Wall Street message may well be both morally and politically correct. That it may draw in some racists who switched from Obama to Trump is a benefit of that. It doesn’t have to draw that many. Is there any downside other than just making anti-racist Democrats that we have to include these people in the coalition?