Democrats have always taken minority voters for granted, but recent polls have them cringing in fear at the prospect that Joe Biden is driving the reliable voter bloc out of the party. CNN’s Harry Enten reports
(CNN)We’re in the doldrums of the 2022 election season. Outside of the rescheduled Maryland primary, there are no federal primaries this month. That means political media denizens are looking for almost anything that they can focus on.
They got it last week in the form of a New York Times/Siena College poll, which had all sorts of good data in it from a potential 2024 Joe Biden-Donald Trump rematch to the 2022 race for congressional control.
But there were two nuggets in the poll that got me thinking the most. One was about voters of color, and the other was on the coronavirus. The first is where we’ll begin our look at the political week that was.
All you have to do is turn on the political news to see that we are a country where political tribalism is high. Political science tells us that congressional polarization, for instance, is at its highest level since the 19th century.
But while Democrats and Republicans may be further apart on policy than any of us can remember, that breakdown is not occurring along racial and gender lines as much as you might think.
The Times poll showed that Democrats were ahead by around 25 points among voters of color on the generic congressional ballot, which usually asks respondents some form of the following question: “If the elections for Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic or Republican party?” Democrats trailed among White voters on this same question by 10 points.
A 35-point racial gap is minuscule by historical standards.
I decided to investigate further by averaging polling data from CNN/SSRS, Fox, Marist College, Monmouth University and The New York Times.
The average showed Democrats up by 30 points among voters of color and losing White voters by 14 points — a somewhat larger 44-point racial gap but still historically small.
In fact, it’s the smallest divide this century.
For perspective, consider recent elections. The racial gap between White voters and voters of color in 2020 races for the US House was about 63 points, according to an average of CNN exit poll and Catalist data. It was about 64 points in the 2018 midterms.
Now look at exit poll data going back this century. I couldn’t find a single year with a smaller difference between how White voters and voters of colors filled in their congressional ballots than what the polls are suggesting right now. The lowest was 55 points in 2004 and 2006.
The big reason for this shrinking gap is that voters of color are supporting Republicans at very high levels. The previous low watermark for the Democratic edge among voters of color in House elections this century was 40 points in 2004.
Republicans are currently doing 10 points better than their best year of 2004.
Part of why that is occurring is the changing demographic makeup of voters of color. They’re a lot more Hispanic than they used to be. At the same time, they’re a lot less Black. Hispanic voters don’t support Democrats as much as Black voters.
But that’s not all that’s going on. Democratic support from Asian American, Black and Hispanic voters is much lower than it has usually been. (See my previous analyses on these different parts of the electorate.)
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