In a detailed analysis of the 2016 vote, Pew found that 44 percent, or 60.1 million out of a total of 136.7 million votes cast on Nov. 8, 2016 were cast by whites without college degrees — demographic shorthand for the white working class.So of all the groups demographers divide the electorate into, the white working class is the biggest by far. If Hillary had done as well with them as Obama, it would have been a landslide.
Hillary Clinton won 28 percent of white working-class votes, according to Pew, less than Obama’s 36 percent in 2012. Still, a quarter of her total vote of 65.85 million — that is, 16.8 million votes — came from the white working class.
Here's an interesting snapshot of American politics under the Trump administration, based on recent polling by Pew:
Voters who have completed college make up a third of all registered voters. And a majority — 58 percent — of all voters with at least a four-year college degree now identifies as Democrats or leans Democratic, the highest share dating back to 1992. Just 36 percent affiliate with the Republican Party or lean toward the G.O.P. . . . Voters with no college experience have been moving toward the GOP: 47 percent identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up from 42 percent in 2014.But because whites without college degrees are the biggest group, that 5 percent shift helps Republicans a lot. And this leads some Democratic strategists to say that the "Obama coalition" thing (minorities plus educated whites) is not a winning strategy. Ruy Teixeira:
There is no way around it — if Democrats hope to be competitive in Ohio and similar states in 2020, they must do the hard thing: find a way to reach hearts and minds among white non-college voters.And to do that, says William Galston, they must ease off on immigration:
No issue has done more than immigration to feed populism, and finding a sustainable compromise would drain much of the bile from today’s politics. Defenders of liberal democracy should acknowledge that controlling borders is a legitimate exercise of sovereignty, and that the appropriate number and type of immigrants is a legitimate subject for debate. Denouncing citizens concerned about immigration as bigots ameliorates neither the substance nor the politics of the problem. There’s nothing illiberal about the view that too many immigrants stress a country’s capacity to absorb them, so that a reduction or even a pause may be in order.Of course I support this analysis, since I am an immigration moderate myself. Another strategy would be to really pound on economic populism, going hard after bankers and billionaires and their tax cuts; the right sort of candidate might be able to win over quite a few working class voters that way without going anti-immigrant. But anyway all this demography makes it clear that for another generation Democrats must be able to win a third of the white, working-class vote to be nationally competitive.