White Men! Go to the End of the Line!


In 2012, Democrat Barack Obama won reelection with 51% of the vote compared to Republican Mitt Romney’s 47%. Obama’s victory was the result of a formidable coalition of racial minorities and progressive Whites, particularly single women. In 2016, if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is to prevail, they must recreate the same coalition. And, white men will be the smallest faction.

As reported by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin in “The Obama Coalition in the 2012 Election,” Obama achieved victory, “by carrying 93% of African American voters, 71% of Latino voters, 73% of Asian American voters, and only 39% of white voters.”

In his recent book, Brown is the New White, Steve Phillips claimed Obama’s victory symbolizes a new American majority: “Progressive people of color now comprise 23% of all the eligible voters in America, and progressive Whites account for 28% of all eligible voters.”

The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate must mobilize the new American majority. If they do, they won’t need to carry blue-collar white men to win. In 2012, Obama got the votes of only 35% of white men.

The groups Clinton or Sanders needs to carry are African American voters, Latino voters, Asian American voters, and progressive White voters – particularly single women.

African American Voters: In 2012, 13% of voters were African American. Teixeira and Halpin noted, “[Obama’s] support among African Americans was … overwhelming this year (93% …).” Steve Phillips observed, “African Americans are the most loyal and consistent Democratic voters in the country.” They are 23% of the Democratic vote.

Latino voters: In 2012, 10% of voters were Latinos. Teixeira and Halpin reported, “Hispanics increased their share in line with their growing share of the eligible electorate.” Steve Phillips noted, “Latinos are now the largest group of color in the country …making up 17% of the total US population and 46% of all people of color in America.” Phillips predicted more Latinos will vote in 2016; he estimated that if they have the same participation rate as in 2012 (less than 50%) they will be 14% of the Democratic vote.

Asian American voters: In 2012, 3% of voters were Asian American. (2% were of “other” race: Native American, Pacific Islanders, Arab Americans, Iranian Americans, or mixed.) Steve Phillips forecast that if, in 2016, they have the same participation rate as in 2012 (greater than 50%) they will be about 8% of the Democratic vote.

Progressive White voters: In 2012, non-Hispanic White voters were 71% of the electorate. In 2016, because of differential growth rates that share will decrease to 68%.

Of particular interest are the unmarried white women. Teixeira and Halpin reported, “President Obama did especially well among unmarried women in 2012, carrying them by 36 points (67% to 31%) … Unmarried women also made up a larger share of voters in this election—23%.”

Extrapolating from 2012 numbers, in 2016, White non-Hispanic voters will constitute approximately 56% of the Democratic base. 17% will be unmarried white women. 16% will be married white women. 12% will be unmarried white men. And, 10% will be married white men.

Ranking Democratic segments. In 2016 the key Democratic voting groups will be:

• African Americans, 23%

• Unmarried white (non Hispanic) women, 17%

• Married white (non Hispanic) women. 16%

• Latinos, 14%

• Unmarried white (non Hispanic) men, 12%

• Married white (non Hispanic) men. 10%

• Asian Americans (and others), 8%

This should be encouraging news for Democrats. African American voters can be expected to turn out in high numbers (unless their votes are suppressed by Republican dirty tricks). A recent Elle magazine survey found that 90% of single women said they were “almost certain” to vote in 2016 and most will vote Democratic. And, there’s compelling evidence women will not vote for Donald Trump; the same Elle survey noted 84% of all women said, “they’d be unlikely to vote for a candidate who referred to women as ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ ‘disgusting animals,’ or ‘bimbos.’”

In addition, there’s strong evidence Republican anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic rhetoric will dramatically increase the Latino voter participation rate.

Meanwhile, Democrats fret about blue-collar white men. While every vote counts, it’s estimated that these white men are only 5% of the Democratic base. Therefore, the outreach to white men should have a low priority.

There is a logical and doable path to victory for the Democratic presidential candidate. Clinton or Sanders should build upon the 2012 Obama coalition. In particular, they should reach out to African Americans, women, and Latinos. White men, your place is the end of the line.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley, Calif., writer, a retired Silicon Valley executive (and WASP). Email bburnett@sonic.net.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2016


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