Oct 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Left warns of “double threat”

Illustration of a blue donkey with the shadows of two people on either side of it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A progressive group warns Democrats they're facing a "double threat" heading into the midterms: voters of color aren't supporting Democratic candidates at the same rates, and the Republican Party is inspiring first-time voters of color to turn out and support it instead.

Why it matters: Democrats may control the White House and both chambers of Congress now, but history shows their party is set to lose seats next cycle. These latest findings question their strength with Black, Latino and AAPI voters — typically considered reliable Democratic voting blocs.

  • Way to Win, a leading progressive fundraising and organizing group, led the study in partnership with 32 state-based organizations and a host of other polling and data firms.
  • The report is one of the most exhaustive studies of the 2020 election.
  • It analyzed 64.8 million voters who participated last year across 11 battleground states: Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The big takeaway: Democrats made gains with some white voters in 2020 — mostly non-evangelical Christians — but saw once-reliable members of their base shift to Republicans.

  • The GOP increased its support in these places specifically thanks to new voters of color.
  • In particular, Republicans got a boost from Latino voters in Texas, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters in Georgia and Black voters — especially men — in Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Colorado.
  • Among the 2020 first-time voters who supported a Republican candidate, roughly 20% were people of color. While 55% of the Democrats' new voters in 2020 were people of color, 20% is a high percentage for the GOP.

What they're saying: "These trends ... demonstrate the urgent need for campaigns and independent groups to stop assuming voters of color will vote Democrat," Way to Win writes in its report.

  • The group criticizes the Democratic Party for directing "the majority of resources — and genuine persuasion efforts — at white voters."
  • "Democrats must contend with a double threat in these 11 key battleground states — erosion of Democratic support, and new voter enthusiasm for the GOP among voters of color and younger voters."

But, but, but: Democrats cracked 50% support among Latinos in all 11 states overall, and over half of the first-time 2020 voters in these areas supported them.

  • Way to Win points to the Sun Belt as an area where the Democratic Party can seek more support in 2022.
  • “The majority of new, likely Democratic voters live in the South and Southwest, places the Democratic establishment have long ignored or are just waking up to now,” the group wrote.

The group's suggestion for how to win in 2022? "Progressives must find messages that unify the whole coalition around a shared vision."

The bottom line: Democrats' "winning" coalition, the report says, is multigenerational, multiracial and has near equal representation of white voters and voters of color.

  • Unifying that coalition — especially for a party with self-proclaimed messaging issues — is a tall order.
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