New Orleans People enjoy calling Donald Trump a liar, but when he says that he is “expanding” the base of the Republican Party, he’s telling the truth, and that’s more frightening that a lot of the rest of the mishmash coming from his mouth. Worse, he is expanding the Republicans by stripping out the lower income, working class voters that are part of the natural, historic ideological base of the Democratic Party. These are voters at the bad business end of the short stick in the widening equality gap, and somehow the Democrats are being seen as the Party of Wall Street while a billionaire is seen as someone who can bring the heat and make the change. What was up, is now down, what was down, is now up.
Meanwhile the Democratic base voting for Hillary Clinton is shrinking, rather than expanding and is about as bored with her candidacy, even while winning, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is as he stood behind Trump for 32 minutes in Florida on Super Tuesday. Democratic turnout has fallen drastically since 2008, the last time the party had a contested primary, with roughly three million fewer Democrats voting in the 15 states that have held caucuses or primaries through Super Tuesday, according to unofficial election results. It declined in almost every state, dropping by roughly 50 percent in Texas and 40 percent in Tennessee. In Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, the number of Democrats voting decreased by between a quarter and a third. Obama won by increasing the number of voters in the primary and then the general election. If Trump increases his electorate and Clinton decreases hers, then November might signal that permanent winter is coming, rather than a bright new day.
It gets worse, too. The Wall Street Journal noted an “intriguing voting pattern.” Trump is dominating in economically challenged cities and Clinton is winning heavily in cities where “incomes are relative high, and unemployment is relatively low.” Clinton can’t win in November by just sweeping Washington and Oregon, San Francisco and San Diego, and losing Youngstown, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, and Cincinnati or even simply failing to win big.
It’s a maxim of organizing – and campaigning – that it’s easier to mount a drive against the walls of the fort than to defend the fort, easier to be in opposition, than to represent the established. Trump will be leading people to assault and attack, and Clinton seems to be positioning herself in such a way that her case for greater turnout is based on stopping the Visigoths and Vandals at the gates. Invariably, such a strategy ends up denigrating the opponent’s base, not just the leader of the pack, and the base should – and could be – hers.
None of this is a winning strategy.