Trump voters wanted to blow up Washington. Regardless of what else they may disrupt, they have succeeded in disturbing the entrenched partisan divisions which for years have cemented our politics in a tedious and angry stalemate. The election has handed Republicans the imperative to govern and Democrats the need to regroup. These realities will place pressure on both parties and create a four-way political dynamic. Democrats will still oppose Republicans and Republicans will still oppose Democrats, but these disputes will be complicated by the heightened presence of intra-party wrangling. The stress of governing promises to exacerbate Republican divisions between conservatives and reactionaries. The stress of losing power will
One of the key analytical frameworks of my book Next Generation Netroots is derived from the work of Yale political scientist Steven Skowronek, who views presidential administrations in terms of their relationship to prevailing political coalitions rather than as isolated entities. Skowronek contends that the options available to presidents and the results they achieve are determined to a large degree by their position in what he calls political time—whether they come to office in support of or in opposition to an era’s dominant political regime, and whether that regime is strong or vulnerable during the president’s administration. Political regimes are the electoral coalitions that dominate politics for long stretches
In my previous post, I compared the political climate to an intense storm and suggested that it has been building for years. The frontal boundary is the place where the portion of the electorate that supported Hillary Clinton is pushing against the portion that supported Donald Trump. The Clinton electorate—young, multicultural, progressive and connected to the 21st century economy—has been building in size and political influence. The Trump electorate—white, older, conservative and connected to the 20th century economy—is shrinking in size and losing its political and cultural dominance. The Obama administration marked a noteworthy shift away from the rightward impulses of the Reagan coalition
Let’s return to the fundamental premise of this cycle: it was a change election. During the campaign, I wrote extensively about the irony that, according to available public polling, voters clamoring for a new direction were going to ratify the status quo by electing a Democratic president and a Republican congress. Even when a Democratic wave appeared to be building several weeks ago, Democrats were highly unlikely to win enough House seats to end divided government, and even if they could, Hillary Clinton was not a credible change agent. This is why, as I wrote during the campaign, she was a bad fit to the cycle. But her opponent,
At the Democratic Convention this summer, a respected political operative told me that Hillary Clinton would win the election because Democrats have a structural advantage in the Electoral College, enough to make up for whatever weaknesses she had as a candidate. Demography drives this advantage, which remains in place despite the uprising of rural and suburban white voters that changed the electoral math on Tuesday. Democrats are powered by a large and growing coalition of young, female and ethnically diverse voters in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, Pacific Rim and portions of the South and Southwest where the information economy has taken hold.
With a few days to reflect and some unsettled sleep, I’ve been able to put together a few observations about how I think we can understand what happened in Tuesday’s election and what it may mean for our politics in the near and long term. Starting tomorrow and over the next several days, I will share my thoughts in a series of five posts: Sorting It Out looks at how a white backlash that was only partially captured by the polls may have been a necessary step on the road to breaking our political stalemate Change explores how the fundamental dynamics of the