Newspaper deadlines prohibit commentary on Tuesday’s primary results — you can read our reporting from the day in the News section, which you can read here — but there are some facts about this election, and the next one, that will shape the next generation of electoral politics.
These facts fall squarely along the axes of race, age and income — factors that, along with geography, provide the benchmarks of modern political strategy. And those things don’t mean what they used to.
Using race as an electoral strategy dates back even before African-Americans got the vote. After Jim Crow, through the Civil Rights Era and afterwards, black political power was expressed, by necessity, through block voting — the thinking being that while there may not be enough black votes to carry a single candidate, the block would be enough to tip one side to victory.
But there is no such thing as “the black vote” right now, particularly in the presidential race. While most black folks seem to agree about Trump and Bloomberg, they’re split on the Biden/Sanders question, along a dividing line rooted in age.
In today’s electorate, there are more black Millennials than there are Baby Boomers, a trend that carries across the board.
For the first time in history, Baby Boomers do not make up the largest segment of the potential electorate — that distinction belongs to the Millennials, though they’re not registered to vote at the same ratio as Boomers… yet. But it’s coming. In the 2018 midterm election, for the first time, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z combined to outperform Boomers and prior generations by 2.1 million votes.
And then there’s the matter of income, at one time a traditional boundary line between the parties. That, too, is dissolving into something else. The rise of Trump brought a fresh tide of low-income voters to the Republican Party, and Mike Bloomberg is a Democrat now.
What does it all mean? Lots of things, most of them far in the hazy future. But what’s most likely is that a new playbook will need to be drawn to address this new plurality.