At the beginning of John Heilemann’s sprawling, 6,500-word essay on Team Obama’s reelection strategy are these telling paragraphs:
The contours of that contest are now plain to see—indeed, they have been for some time. Back in November, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, two fellows at the Center for American Progress, identified the prevailing dynamics: The presidential race would boil down to “demographics versus economics.” That the latter favor Mitt Romney is incontestable. From high unemployment and stagnant incomes to tepid GDP growth and a still-pervasive sense of anxiety bordering on pessimism in the body politic, every salient variable undermines the prospects of the incumbent. The subject line of an e-mail from the Romney press shop that hit my in-box last week summed up the challenger’s framing of the election concisely and precisely: “What’s This Campaign Going to Be About? The Obama Economy.”
The president begs to differ. In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.
Ruy Teixeira, the co-author of The Emerging Democratic Majority with John Judis, is one of the key prophets of the coming Democratic eschaton: The theory that demography will sweep conservatives out of power and deliver the Democrats a lasting majority.
Democrats have been arguing this one way or another since at least 1972, when they noticed that the Baby Boomers backed McGovern over Nixon. Now, of course, the Baby Boomers are conservative, but never mind. Never mind as well that the white working class – a key plank of the Emerging Democratic Majority – has abandoned the Democratic party over the last decade, and Obama is set to lose them by a wide margin. Never mind also that this new majority suddenly disappeared in the 2010 midterms. (Noticing a pattern yet?)
Smart politicos should already know all this, for they should have read Sean Trende’s The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up For Grabs, And Who Will Take It. Trende deals with the concept of permanent/enduring majorities in general, and takes the most recent Democratic iteration out to the woodshed.
It looks from this article that Plouffe hasn’t read Trende’s book. Can somebody get him a copy? (Or, better yet, don’t. We’ll buy it for him after the election!)
Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.