“Joe (not really) from Scranton” flopped with the working class

Lisa Lerer of the New York Times, having looked at the county-by-county election results, concludes that Joe Biden failed to win back the working class for the Democrats. In fact, he seems to have fared worse with blue-collar voters than “Hillary from Chappaqua” did.

Lerer writes:

The clearest way to understand the results of the 2020 election — and, perhaps, the shifting state of our politics — is through the education voting gap. Voters with college degrees flocked to Mr. Biden, emerging as the crucial voting bloc in the suburbs. Those without them continued their flight from the Democratic Party. . . .

One way to examine this trend county by county is to look at the number of voters who have white- or blue-collar jobs. . . .

The results were striking. Of the 265 counties most dominated by blue-collar workers — areas where at least 40 percent of employed adults have jobs in construction, the service industry or other nonprofessional fields — Mr. Biden won just 15, according to data from researchers at the Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan policy research group.

On average, the work force in counties won by Mr. Biden was about 23 percent blue collar. In counties won by President Trump, blue-collar workers made up an average of 31 percent of the work force.

The realignment Lerer describes has been in the works for some time. However, Democrats hoped that Joe Biden would appeal more to blue=collar voters than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — both obvious elitists — did. After all, as Lerer puts it, Biden “built his political brand on being a scrappy kid from Scranton, Pa., who became just another guy riding the train to work.” Indeed, “the rallying cry of his campaign in the final weeks was: ‘This election is Scranton versus Park Avenue.’”

But the working class didn’t buy it. According to Lerer, Biden fared worse than Clinton in 2016 and Obama in 2012 and 2008 in counties dominated by blue-collar workers.

Will Democrats be able to win back working class voters? Maybe, but I doubt it. The Dems seem to be all in on political correctness and identity politics — two massive turnoffs to blue-collar (and many other) voters. They are also committed to mass amnesty for illegal immigrants and probably to trade policies and international agreements that will be easy targets for Republicans.

But one should also ask whether Republicans can make inroads among suburban and white collar voters. I think they probably can without moderating too much on substance.

Portions of Donald Trump’s program, articulated by someone less nasty and off-putting, might well appeal to many well-educated suburbanites, especially in the context of rising crime rates (if that’s what is in store). But it’s difficult to see the program Joe Biden ran on, which gave so much sway to his party’s leftist base and its Silicon Valley billionaires, appealing to blue-collar voters. Nor is it easy to envisage the Democrats nominating another presidential candidate who can even pose as anything close to “Joe from Scranton.”

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