How Barack Obama Destroyed Hillary Clinton

The Democrats chose the form of their destructor.

And his form was Barack Obama.

Under President Obama, Democrats have lost just under 1,000 state legislature seats, 69 seats in the House of Representatives, 13 seats in the Senate, and 12 governorships.

And now they may lose the presidency.

The reason: Democrats traded in their old coalition – working class white voters, upper crust coastal elites, single women, and minorities – for a new coalition that focuses much more heavily on minority turnout and abandons working class white voters. In 2012, Barack Obama lost working-class voters by 26 points. Democratic operative Steve Phillips, among others, made the case that this was fine – that Democrats could build a coalition between “progressive people of color,” whom he said represented 23 percent of the electorate, and “progressive whites,” who represented another 28 percent. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Jon Cohen pooh-poohed the threat of Obama blowing off the white vote the day after the election in 2012: “And, while Obama did lose white voters by 20 points to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (the widest losing margin for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1984) he still won a clear popular vote victory -- with a majority of his total vote nationwide coming from white voters.”

All of this was okay for Democrats, the pundits said, because the white share of the vote was fading.

That neglected one rather large issue: Barack Obama drew minorities to the polls in a way that other Democrats simply can’t duplicate. That’s why Democrats have been dropping like flies for the last eight years, and why Hillary’s got a problem. Here’s The New York Times reporting on that problem today:

African-Americans are failing to vote at the robust levels they did four years ago in several states that could help decide the presidential election, creating a vexing problem for Hillary Clinton as she clings to a deteriorating lead over Donald J. Trump with Election Day just a week away.

Blacks’ percentage of the voter share has plummeted from 25 percent in Florida in 2012 to 15 percent in 2016. Black voter turnout in Ohio is down. Hillary is lucky that Trump has alienated so many college-educated women – if he were winning the same percentage as Romney, he’d be blowing her out.

But other Republicans could.

And that’s a problem for Democrats down the road. Republicans need to make inroads with minority groups, of course. But Barack Obama’s political legacy may be the racial polarization of the electorate, which won’t pay off for non-Obama Democrats who can’t use the power of persona to drive minority voters to the polls in nearly the same numbers.

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