Asian-Americans now constitute about 15 percent of California's electorate. Since the 1990s, they've leaned toward the Democrats. They gave Obama 72 percent of their votes in 2012. This has confused some Republicans, who note that Asians tend to uphold the kinds of values Republicans champion: high rates of marriage, self-reliance, entrepreneurship and educational achievement. It may be that Democrats have done a better job courting them. Or it may be that Asians' liberal views on gay marriage, immigration and abortion incline them toward the Democrats.
But recent moves by Democrats in California to reinstate preferences in higher education have met with a backlash. Writing in The American Magazine, Abigail Thernstrom notes that when a constitutional amendment was proposed that would have overturned Proposition 209, Asian-Americans rebelled and forced Assembly Speaker John A. Perez to table it. This is the first time Asians have broken with the Democratic Party over this issue.
In New York, one very liberal Democrat, Mayor Bill de Blasio, met resistance from a slightly less liberal Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when he struck at charter schools. Charters are precious to voters who are strongly attached to the Democratic Party -- blacks and Hispanics. They are anathema to another loyal Democratic constituency -- the teachers unions. The sound you hear is the cracking of an alliance.
As for the "war on women," it may be wearing thin. Wendy Davis, a candidate for governor of Texas, who has carried all the familiar liberal standards into battle, is trailing her Republican opponent even among women voters, only 32 percent of whom view her favorably compared with 46 percent who are unimpressed.
Sure, that's Texas. But a November 2013 poll found that Obama's approval rating among women had dropped by 10 points since the election. The Paycheck Fairness dog-and-pony show, choreographed by the White House, elicited some snickers when Jay Carney was confronted with the fact that women in the White House earned only 88 cents on the dollar compared with men. The point was not, as Carney seemed to think, that the administration had been caught in hypocrisy, but that comparing gross wages of the two sexes without considering other factors is inherently fraudulent.
Republicans, meanwhile, have advertised the fact that poverty among women has increased from 14.4 percent to 16.3 percent during Obama's term.
The Democrats may be able to hold their coalition together in 2016, but the fissures suggest openings for challenge.