The Biden Democrats have been transformed into a Brahmin Left party

Once upon a time, you could hardly have imagined a stronger political alignment than the one that existed between nonwhite working class voters and left-wing political parties.

Spanning well over a century, the US Democrats have strengthened this alignment through initiatives like the Progressive Era reforms (1890s-1920s), the New Deal (1930s), the Civil Rights movement (1960s) and Obamacare (2010s).

Though many are yet to come to terms with it, a major political realignment has been taking place in recent decades.

What were once marginalised and anti-establishment ideals — whether the sexual revolution, radical environmentalism, Marxism or transgenderism — have colonised the establishment. While continuing to take working-class support for granted, left-wing parties like the Democrats have pushed tirelessly for causes that mostly concern the college-educated, urban well-to-do.

This platform shift was always going to come with a price. Like the spiralling national debt, any good analyst could have seen it coming a mile off. But who would choose the warnings of the pessimists over blissful ignorance?

In 2024, however the ideological debt collector has come knocking.

Last week, pollster and political scientist Ruy Teixeira illustrated how deep and rapid the non-white working-class vote has swung away from the Democrats. “These voters are now less Democratic than white college graduates,” he warned.

Just 12 years ago, in the 2012 election, Barack Obama elbowed out Mitt Romney to win a second term in the White House. Obama enjoyed the support of 67 percent of non-white working-class voters, but lost white college graduates by 7 points, for a differential of 74.

In 2024, Biden has managed to flip that differential, still carrying nonwhite working-class voters, though by a razor-thin margin of 6 percent, but leading Donald Trump by 15 points among white college graduates — a differential of minus 9.

It is difficult to overstate what a paradigm-shattering change this represents for the party once favoured by the Hispanic landscaper, the Black factory worker, the Arab taxi driver and the Asian hair stylist.

“There is perhaps no better illustration of the Democratstransformation into a Brahmin Left party, beloved by the educated but increasingly viewed with suspicion by the working classes of all races,” Teixeira concludes.

He offers further analysis:

[A]s the Democrats have moved to the left on sociocultural issues, they are increasingly diverging from the comfort zone of the moderate-to-conservative supermajority of nonwhite working-class voters. Democratic positions in these areas are, however, congenial to white college graduates who have rewarded Democrats with increasing support. The accelerating Brahminization” of the party is the result.

Posing the question whether the Democrats can “escape the negative effects of this Brahminization”, Teixeira wagers that, though such an outcome is possible, it relies not on record voter turnout, as in 2020, but the opposite, where Election Day apathy suppresses an otherwise dominant working-class vote.

So ominous was Teixeira’s analysis that it caught the attention of the New York Times —where columnist Ross Douthat presents it as the code to crack Biden’s otherwise “hard to explain” lousy polling numbers.

“Joe Biden is one of the most unpopular presidents in modern American history,” Douthat concedes. “In Gallup polling, his approval ratings are lower than those of any president embarking on a re-election campaign, from Dwight Eisenhower to Donald Trump.”

“Apart from anxiety about his age, there isnt a chattering-class consensus or common shorthand for why his presidency is such a political flop,” he offers.

Douthat then acknowledges “the political realignment” discussed above — “where right and left are sorting increasingly by class and education, and where anti-institutionalism has migrated more to the political right”.

He goes on to cite Teixeiras findings, discussing the “politically moderate minority voters, especially lower-middle-class Hispanics and African Americans, who already tended somewhat rightward in 2016 and 2020 but now seem to be abandoning Biden in larger numbers”.



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What Democrat analysts have tended to ignore, Douthat suggests, is that in the 2020s, skin colour and progressive politics no longer come as a guaranteed package deal.

And the reason is not rocket science.

“[H]igh borrowing costs for homes and cars seem especially punishing to voters trying to move up the economic ladder,” he explains, adding that “the hold of cultural progressivism over Democratic politics might be pushing more culturally conservative minorities to the right”.

All of this might be news to the establishment, but it has been the obvious conclusion drawn by many from the early days of the Trump era.

How it all plays out in November is another question — and it will be fascinating to watch.

Which is the anti-establishment party nowadays? The Democrats or the Republicans? We’d like to hear your ideas. Leave a comment below.

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.

Image: cartoon by Brian Doyle 


Showing 7 reactions

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  • Stephen Rudolph
    commented 2024-03-17 02:45:17 +1100
    These are interesting statistics, but not as profound as they seem at first glance. It is stated that Obama enjoyed a 74 point differential and Biden a negative 9 – which almost sounds like an 83% swing. However, there is always a danger in mixing different measurements in a comparison – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Restating the stats, Obama got 67% of the non-white vote and 46% of the white college grads. That’s a 21% differential. Biden got 53% of the non-white vote and 58% of the white college grads. That’s a negative 5 differential. Perhaps a better wasy to state it is that Biden is 14% off from Obama on the non-white vote (which should not come as a great surprise), but has captured an additional 12% of the white college grads to make up for the loss. Of course, we don’t know how large a constituency each makes up to determine the net effect. I like Kurt’s comments and perspective, but felt I should point out that the statistics are not that alarming or surprising if we approach them from a different angle.
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Peter, a cult demands an idol. We can get that confused in politics. Elected public servants are not idols, they’re simply federal or state employees who can be removed/replaced by us through elections or other means. They work for us & represent us. That’s all.
    I expect the same dependable level of service from a candidate as I expect from the rubbish collector contracted through our local govt. Their private lives are their own business. If their behavior crosses a line & makes them ineligible to serve us, then we find someone else.
  • Peter
    commented 2024-03-16 01:35:13 +1100
    It would seem that Ross Douthat hasn’t been following the news on Presidential rankings. Out of all US Presidents ranked from best to worst, Biden is listed as 14th and Trump as LAST! (see article below).
    If “cultural conservatives” are leaving the Democrats, they certainly aren’t heading in the direction of the Republicans.
    It is almost unthinkable that Trump continues to maintain the high level of support from the MAGA Party, formerly known as the Republican Party, given his extreme views and his idolatrous and immoral behaviour.
    The MAGA movement is a cult headed by Trump. At practically every level, Christianity has been weaponised as a useful platform to prop-up Trump.
    Sure, criticism of Biden and the Democrats is warranted, but this fades into obscurity when compared to the corrupt and opportunistic MAGA/Republican Party with Trump as cult leader.
  • Edward Borland
    commented 2024-03-15 23:50:40 +1100
    I wish the USA had preferential voting so voters weren’t trapped by two parties who run the debates and the whole shebang.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    commented 2024-03-15 00:39:20 +1100
    Thanks for the insight Mrs Cracker. Agreed!
  • mrscracker
    I think the Democrats fail to understand that Hispanic voters are largely social conservatives. And that’s increasingly the reason behind the working class falling away from the Democratic Party. I figured out the moral disconnect for myself decades ago. The Democratic Party left me first. I vote GOP now, but not enthusiastically.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    published this page in The Latest 2024-03-14 20:41:39 +1100