Demographics Will Favor The Democratic Presidential Nominee
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Democratic presidential candidates who gather at a South Carolina forum tonight would like to think that they have the wind at their backs. The electorate is changing. The groups that back Democrats have grown just since the last election, and that changes on the mind of Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg.
STAN GREENBERG: If you look at the groups that are rising - racial minorities, single women, millennials and secularists - they were 51 percent of the electorate in 2012. They'll be 63 percent of the electorate next year.
INSKEEP: Stan Greenberg explores that electorate in his new book, "America Ascendant." Thinking of the seeming Democratic advantage forces him to consider an awkward reality.
OK, so help me out with something here. President Obama won re-election in 2012 in this changing electorate. It has changed even more in the Democrats favor in just a few years, and yet since 2012, Democrats have lost election after election after election. They've lost control of the Senate. They've lost a vast majority of governorships and state legislatures across the country. They lost more elections just the other day in places like Kentucky. What's happening?
GREENBERG: That is the question I get more than any other. I think we are looking at two different movies. One movie is about the Republican Party and its battle to defeat these trends that I think can't be defeated. But it requires more and more intensity, more and more polarization. And I think when we look back on this a few years from now, we will view that period, that decade, in which Republicans made such big gains as that kind of last chapter in which they raise the highest energy levels in order to keep this new majority from governing. We have a second movie that's about America, not so much about the Democrats. It's about America. You know, are we going to begin to address the problems that are rising for this new majority? This new majority looks at politics as grid law corrupted. It looks at economy that's not producing jobs that pay enough to live on. And I think they are waiting for leaders who will begin to address these problems. That's what I think they're hearing from Democrats. But, Democrats been silent.
INSKEEP: What have Democrats been silent on?
GREENBERG: Income, inequality, stagnating wages, you know, President Obama has said - look, I have a great respect for him as president. I think - believe he'll be an historic president. But he has not addressed the big structural problems facing the country that are leaving most people with stagnant or declining incomes. That's a core piece. People don't think a middle-class life is possible. They're watching at the same time, accelerating inequality. So that leaves them, you know, struggling.
INSKEEP: I think if the president were sitting here, he would begin listing a number things that he feels that his White House has done to address those issues. But I'm wondering if you're saying that he has offered small solutions to very big philosophical problem.
GREENBERG: Look, I don't blame him. I mean, look, he has a Congress who's not going to pass those laws, and so he's done them by executive order. But his main narrative has been that America is on the way up, that we are economically and culturally dynamic, and he's tried to tell that story. But people are living the real world, and the real world is very tough out there, and he's not educated the country as to the huge structural problems that we face, and so we have a very disgruntled electorate. You know, over 60 percent's saying the country's on the wrong track, including these base majority coalition that are supposed to electing Democrats and be engaged. So why be engaged when you have such doubts about the direction of the country?
INSKEEP: So we talked with Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate, this week. And at one point, I asked him about the crowds that have come out for him and the crowds that come out for Donald Trump in recent months. And I asked if he thought there was anything similar between those crowds. Let's listen for a moment.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
BERNIE SANDERS: Where there is some similarity is that the people who go to Trump's rallies are angry, and some of the people who come to my rallies are angry as well. And what I would say is that the middle-class and working-class of this country has a right to be angry. They do have a right to be angry.
INSKEEP: Is Bernie Sanders on to something there?
GREENBERG: I think he is. I think he is. He's right about the middle-class, and he's right about them thinking government doesn't listen to them. It has a very different source. If you go to the Trump voters, they're more working-class. They're focused on the loss of American jobs. They're focused on the role of immigration and immigrants and that diversity changing the country, and that's very much part of the anger that those voters express. Obviously, the voters going to Bernie Sanders' rally, they have a different anger, but it does have to do with the fact that the middle-class is being lost, government is not responsive, and they want to see changes.
INSKEEP: Stan Greenberg, thanks very much.
GREENBERG: Thank you.
INSKEEP: His new book is called "America Ascendant: A Revolutionary Nation's Path To Addressing Its Deepest Problems And Leading The 21st Century."
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