Total Destruction: The Democratic Party Has Gone Extinct In Working Class Appalachia

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 22, 2016 4:00 PM
Total Destruction: The Democratic Party Has Gone Extinct In Working Class Appalachia

Ron Fournier of The Atlantic wrote about how people, specifically the Clintonites and the media elite, never really listened to the American voter this cycle. Yes, both candidates were flawed, but the voters who ushered Trump into the White House thought Clinton was by far worse. They told Fournier that trust didn’t matter, that Bill survived with lackluster trust numbers and won election and re-election in the 1990s. The problem is that Hillary isn’t Bill and she surely isn’t Barack Obama. The Clinton camp pretty much thought that Hillary was this angelic figure who would easily trounce the political incorrect and often times bombastic Donald Trump. Wrong. They hated the direction of the country; they loved he was driving the media and the establishment mad; and they pretty much said that Trump was no worse that what we already have; these are quotes from folks he spoke with in the waning days of the 2016 cycle.

Yet, one of the first people on the ground speaking with these folks was former reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Salena Zito, who was covering this neo-populist wave that had not yet gained a national voice—at one time noting that it could break for Democrats or Republicans. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-described democratic socialist who caucuses with Senate Democrats, resonated with working class voters, so there is some truth to the former hypothesis. In the end, Donald J. Trump was the manifestation of this movement.

Zito, and a few others, like ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis, has written extensively on the Trump voter. Where they live and why they’re voting Republican. Additionally, Democrats can learn why this once loyal voter base has now fled them in droves: the Democratic Party decided to focus on elites, women, and nonwhites (i.e. cities). Why? Because this is where things matter and where Democrats can successfully maintain power and keep it from country bumpkins. That failed miserably on November 8. Demography is not destiny, especially when you have a nominee who is under FBI investigation and is, all in all, quite terrible. Moreover, she mentioned how these aren’t alien beings. They’re Americans (duh!), probably not college-educated, but still committed to raising their families on good paying jobs that have been gutted due to trade and overall economic torpor. They don’t feel the recovery. On other words, just go outside of the D.C. beltway or the cities and you’ll enter Trumpland, which is as American as apple pie.

One thing that Zito discovered regarding the Democratic collapse with white working class voters is the level of the destruction. I mean, it’s a total wipeout in the Appalachian areas. Out of 490 counties that dot this region, Clinton only won 21 of them, mostly because these places contained college campuses, which boosted the number of college liberals:

Two days later and they still don't get it," said Brad Todd, a Washington based Republican consultant …

[…]

Brad Todd has gotten this cultural disconnect for a very long time, reaching back to the 2006 midterm elections that threw his party out of power. Todd, the founding partner of On Message, a GOP media strategy firm based in Washington, has never lost his connection to the five generations of Tennesseans that came before him.

[…]

After Tuesday's election, Todd took a look at the beloved Appalachian voters who he is most connected to and started drawing a map of what just happened in America.

The numbers were devastating to these once-reliable Democratic voters.

"There are 490 counties in Appalachia technically, which is defined by federal law. Hillary Clinton won 21 counties in that region," he said.

And that is it. She did not win a single county in Appalachia that is mostly white, non-college-educated and has a population of under 100,000 people.

Not one county.

[…]

What does all of this data tell you about America? Todd says it is simple, "There are absolutely no more blue-collar whites in the Democratic Party. They just don't exist, even the ones who want there to be have recognized there is no room for them," he said.

These voters had stayed with the Democrats forever and now 80 percent of them in Appalachia have voted Republican. "That means they don't know anyone who voted for her," he said.

Why is this astounding? Because nothing gets eighty percent in this world, especially in politics, except for the numbers Democrats get in the inner cities.

Now, this isn’t all rosy news. Don’t get me wrong, it further shows that while the Democrats probably thought the charm of Obama would last forever with their folks, the party was being eaten alive from the inside. They woke up to find that Clinton isn’t president, with the GOP controlling 33 governorships, 69/99 state legislatures, and Congress. The era of Obama ended with the destruction of the Democratic Party. Yet, Zito added that Todd found that Clinton won Cobb County in Georgia, Newt Gingrich country, and Fort Bend County in Texas, which was the power base for former House Majority Leader Tom Delay. These also happen to be two states where liberals say have the chance to trend blue, with Georgia’s sprawling urban areas providing a bastion for Democrats and Texas’ booming Hispanic population that could end up flipping the state. Luckily, the Texas GOP has made some inroads with these Latino communities, with the added notion that not all Hispanics vote the same way. The same goes with women. I’m sure some liberals were surprised to see that Trump won 53 percent of white women, including 62 percent of white working class women, but back to the Lefts Appalachian disaster.

Todd told Zito that he doesn’t think a realignment is occurring, though it all depends on what President-elect Trump does after he’s sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. If he’s able, in Todd’s words, to govern and have the right temperament, Trump could resonate with suburban voters, which will only complicate Democrats’ rebuilding project.

I don’t think that Democrats are going to get it. If Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s lecture by the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton is an indication of how liberals feel post-2016, a shift with these voters isn’t going to happen barring gross incompetence from a Trump administration on executing its agenda. The data doesn’t lie and it appears as if the lynchpin of the Obama coalition wasn’t black voters, women, or elites—it was white working class voters. Obama did well enough with them to win two elections—and he did paint himself as someone who isn’t perfect, but will do something to fight for their jobs and listen to their struggles, unlike Mr. Bain Capital Mitt Romney, who shied from his success and looked like the person who threw these factory workers in the Rust Belt to the curb. Granted, side-by-side, both candidates offered little to the working class, but Obama was viewed as someone who at least understood their troubles. In fact, Obama killed Romney on that character question. In 2016, Clinton just ignored them. She only focused on turning out her people, not persuading others. Trump at least showed up, spoke to these people’s concerns, was not a politician, and frustrated the media elite and those entrenched in urban areas. It was time for revenge—and the working class ate it up. They’re still basking in the afterglow. As the Democrats try and understand ways to get these people back, I doubt they’ll be successful, unless a major facelift occurs in the leadership. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is not the best sig that the party gets it: Schumer is a New York Democrat, Pelosi who hails from one of the richest counties in the country, bloated with progressives snobs, could win her leadership race again.

It was revenge of the white working class voter, who has just had enough of the media, the political correctness, and being ignored for years. Some say the electorate wasn’t angry. I disagree. These people were so mad they put a media mogul, billionaire real estate developer in 1600 Penn. That doesn’t happen unless millions of people are pissed. Moreover, that level of discontent is only accentuated when you see that millions of Obama supporters flipped for Trump. The Democratic Party is elite. Filled with snobby, over-educated liberals who think that raising the minimum wage is key for outreach to these communities. Wrong. According to Joan Williams of the Harvard Business Review, no one wants to work at the local Burger King. These want good paying jobs to raise their families. One of those jobs is law enforcement, which are apparently is loaded with racists or something according to the elites who splash around in cesspools of America’s cities. Becoming a police officer is one of the best jobs for those without college degrees to earn a decent salary with benefits. It’s once again another example of liberal snobbery from the metropolitan areas. Democrats don’t get it now. They still don’t. We’ll see how the Congressional Democratic leadership looks after Thanksgiving.

Yet, even after that, whatever comes of those intra-party contests, the Democratic Party literally has to start from scratch to win back these voters--and I don't think they want to waste their time; their politics won't allow it.