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
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.
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