This Is Not The Historical Realignment We Were Hoping For

As prelude, we give you a possibly apocryphal story about presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. At a rally, a woman shouted, “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” To which Stevenson responded, “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”

So this isn’t good (boldface mine):

About 1,000 Democrats in Mahoning County so far have switched their party affiliation to Republican with election officials saying several did it to vote for Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner.

“We are seeing something this election cycle I’ve never seen before to this degree,” said board Chairman Mark Munroe, who’s also the county Republican chairman. “Every day I take phone calls or get voice messages from people saying they’ve been Democrats all their life and they’ve had it. They want to vote for Donald Trump. I’m surprised at the volume of inquiries we’re getting. It’s remarkable.”

A number of Democrats taking a Republican ballot when voting early at the board “say they want to vote for Trump,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director.

About 7,000 Mahoning County voters have cast early votes. Early voting started Feb. 17 and ends March 14, the day before the primary.

Of those 7,000, about 14 percent were Democrats who voted Republican, Kale-Pesta said. That’s about 1,000 so far.

The percentage of Democrats switching parties will grow even more, said board Vice Chairman David Betras, who also is the county Democratic chairman.

Just to be clear, so there’s no misunderstanding: voting for Trump out of frustration is really fucking stupid. If you’re down and out, Trump isn’t going to help you.

That said, before we assume all of these crossover voters are horrible bigots (I’m sure some are–lo, there are assholes and they walk among us), remember that they didn’t switch during two elections of a black president. Granted, they might not be on the bleeding edge of the whole intersectionality thing. Still they didn’t switch parties when faced with Obama. Youngstown, OH has been hit hard by the Great Recession and incomes have never recovered–and they didn’t have much to recover from in the first place.

I’m guessing some of these voters chose Republicans previously: this switch might not matter for the presidential race, but when people switch like this, there’s a good chance it could affect downticket races–where Democrats are already getting clobbered.

What’s even more disturbing is this:

And it doesn’t concern [Democrat] Betras.

“I knew Donald Trump’s message would resonate with blue-collar Democrats,” he said. “But once they learn about his record – besides him being anti-trade – they will change their minds in the general election. I assure you that come the general election, voters will vote our way once we tell the story of Donald Trump. The more chaos created in the Republican primary, the better Democrats will do in the general election.”

This is the “fuck you, pay me” school of voter outreach. A Democratic Party chairman, faced with record defections, should be reaching out to these defectors. No doubt, some of them will give BOOGA! BOOGA! answers: Hitlery Klintoon is awful, Benghazi!Benghazi!, and so on. That’s when you thank them for their time and move on. But some of them might say something along the lines of “nobody in my local can get steady work” or “I’m tired of making $10/hour–and I don’t see how Democrats are going to fix that.” Rather than engaging in the Northern Strategy, Democratic officials need to pass this up the chain and force the party to address these needs.

At some point, the politics of hopelessness, of ‘we don’t suck as badly as those other guys’, of ‘fuck you, who else are you going to vote for?’ backfire. People will lash out, often destructively. I just hope it doesn’t screw over Democrats, especially state and local office holders.

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4 Responses to This Is Not The Historical Realignment We Were Hoping For

  1. Potnia Theron says:

    Ohio has always (thus far) permitted a voter to declare a party at time of voting, and vote in either party’s primary. When I lived near Cincinnati, in a very conservative district, I always voted in the Republican primary for the least noxious candidate. Thus Rob Portman (now conservative senator) was the one who did not advocate jailing women who had an abortion for murder. What is described in this article has been happening for years, and some of the “leadership” comments reflect this history. That’s not to say that the Democratic local parties in Ohio are not a bunch of entitled jerks. They are.

  2. paintedjaguar says:

    A lot of people are so fed up that they’re determined not to vote for an establishment candidate. Meanwhile, the Dem apparatus is doing everything in their power to convince people that Bernie isn’t going to be an option. Now who does that leave? It doesn’t help that Hitlery Klintoon is, in fact, awful.

  3. DMC says:

    Trump is telling the blue collar types what they’ve been waiting YEARS to hear, that he’ll get the US out of NAFTA, veto TPP, impose tariffs, etc. Meanwhile, Clinton shares a bed with the guy who got us INTO NAFTA and is the annointed successor to the guy who wants us in the TPP. It doesn’t doesn’t take a Noam Chomsky to parse this out. They want jobs that don’t involve a paper hat and even the possibility of such will get them out in force, no matter how ill founded such a notion is.

  4. Netizen Denizen says:

    This is the exact problem a two-party stranglehold has on political discourse. When one party feels entitled to votes they historically take for granted, of course those voters are going to go somewhere else (or not show up at all) when that party fails to keep those voters engaged.

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