The face of the Democratic Party has changed radically in the last two decades, becoming far more female, non-white, young, college-educated and liberal, according to data from the Pew Research Center out Tuesday.
A few numbers to consider:
- In 1997, 75% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters were white. In 2017? 59%.
- Almost half (46%) of all Democrats describe themselves as “liberal” now. Twenty years ago, that number was just 28%.
- Almost 6 in 10 (58%) of college graduates identify as Democrats or lean toward the party. Just 36% of college grads favor or lean to the GOP.
- 56% of women now call themselves Democrats or lean that way, the highest that number has been since 1992.
- 59% of millennials – including 70% of millennial women – are self-described Democrats.
That change is dramatic – and remains largely unacknowledged by the Democratic political class. Ron Brownstein, who writes more eloquently and insightfully than anyone else in the country about the evolution of the two political parties, recently noted that disconnect in terms of the Democraric Party’s silence on President Trump’s tariffs:
“This silence speaks volumes about the Democrats’ inability, or unwillingness, to recognize the evolving nature of the party’s demographic and geographic base. While many Democrats still think of the party as the home of blue-collar industrial regions hostile to trade, in fact, the party is now centered in the major metropolitan areas that are integrated into global markets and at the forefront of the transition into the information-age, digital economy.”
The Point: The fight over what the Democratic Party is – and is becoming – will be at the center of the fight for the presidential nomination in 2020. Is the Democratic Party still the party of unions and white working-class voters? Or is it an urban, liberal party dominated by women and young people? Can it be both? Or not?