A lot of us at GetReligion have some theories about what constitutes a true Democrat and whether the folks out in fly-over land might be a whole different animal than what you see on the coasts.
Tmatt especially has argued that pro-life Dems could be the factor that could beat the GOP in 2020 if only the millennial ‘nones’ (for those who have no religious affiliation) would wise up and do what it takes to remove President Donald Trump. The key: Some kind of centrist approach to hot-button moral, cultural and religious issues.
Then along comes the New York Times with a nicely designed interactive piece that proves –- as much as one can –- that the kind of Democrat you see on TV does not represent the typical Dem on the ground. (Hat tip to MuckRack for spotlighting the story). One of the writers is Nate Cohn, the Times’ demographics guru; the other, Kevin Quealy, is a graphics editor. And get a look at the headline over it all:
“The Democratic Electorate on Twitter is not the Actual Democratic Electorate”
Say what? So the Abolish ICE/#MeToo/Green New Deal/March for Women types aren’t what’s really at the base of the Democratic Party?
Well, read on.
Today’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its “woke” left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.
The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online, according to data from the Hidden Tribes Project. This latter group has the numbers to decide the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of a relatively moderate establishment favorite, as it has often done in the past.
Accompanying all this are some fascinating graphics showing the Democrats who aren’t posting on social media tend to be more conservative, hate political correctness, don’t follow the news much and happen to be black.
Even these results might understate the leftward lean of the most politically active, Democratic Twitter users, who often engage with political journalists and can have a powerful effect in shaping the conventional wisdom. In an informal poll of Democrats on one of our Twitter accounts on Monday, about 80 percent said they were liberal, and a similar percentage said they had a college degree. Only 20 percent said political correctness was a problem, and only 2 percent said they were black.
In reality, the Democratic electorate is both ideologically and demographically diverse. Over all, around half of Democratic-leaning voters consider themselves “moderate” or “conservative,” not liberal. Around 40 percent are not white.
These next few paragraphs may be the most important in the piece:
The rest of the party is easy to miss. Not only is it less active on social media, but it is also under-represented in the well-educated, urban enclaves where journalists roam. It is under-represented in the Northern blue states and districts where most Democratic politicians win elections.
Many in this group are party stalwarts: people who are Democrats because of identity and self-interest — a union worker, an African-American — more than their policy views. Their votes are concentrated in the South, where Democratic politicians rarely win.
What else is in the South? The Bible Belt.
This article is amazing in its ability to capture the presence of hidden Democrats who never end up on TV or editorial pages but who constitute a majority of the party. But there’s something else that constitutes this “hidden tribe.” Lots of them go to church.
They often oppose abortion. Look at the Democrats for Life page. They say one in three Democrats are pro-life. Many others favor compromises on abortion that are rejected by the hard left.
You won’t see that on woke Twitter.
Speaking of which, The Daily Beast, which I would not call a conservative outlet, asks if (Dem candidates) Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg are such moderates, why are they pandering to the far Left?
Within the Democratic Party, “woke Twitter” is punching above its weight and influencing how the candidates position themselves.
Consider two of the allegedly moderate candidates currently running for president: After confronting his “white privilege,” Beto O’Rourke advocated tearing down 600 miles of existing border fencing and called the prime minister of Israel a “racist.” And Pete Buttigieg, after being attacked for not being gay enough, has picked a fight with Mike Pence, calling the veep “fanatical,” a “social extremist,” and a “cheerleader of the porn star presidency.”
This is worth mentioning because (a) both candidates were positioned to run to the center as optimistic change agents, (b) there is little competition for this lane, and (c) there are tons of people in the market for an optimistic moderate.
So, if the Democrats out in the provinces (or in the pews) aren’t Elizabeth Warren 2020 fans, who do they want? What do they think? This was a group that Hillary Clinton did not capture in 2016. This is a group that Donald Trump may understand better than does Bernie Sanders.
What do these folks think about climate change, race and the Supreme Court? Where are the journalists who “get” this group?
One might be Amy Sullivan, author of the 2008 book The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap. I don’t think the Dems actually closed the “God gap” but Sullivan at least knows there’s a story there. And it is, of course, a religion story.
The Atlantic’s Emma Green, who has covered the Dems-and-religion angle extensively, also gets it. See her recent piece about how Democrats needs to decide whether or not faith is an asset for 2020.
Now we know (according to the Washington Post) that only 7 percent of American journalists are Republicans, which makes an overwhelming 93 percent of scribes either Democrats or independents, Green Party or something else. Certainly this pro-Dem media elite can find stories out there about their more conservative fellows.
Maybe hey should try hanging out in a few churches (or mosques or Orthodox synagogues, for that matter). There’s a whole kingdom out there beyond woke Twitter.
That is, if they want to find it.