Judis's article underscores important points about the resistance to activist government spreading across the white working class and middle class. But his conclusion, which conservative analysts have seized upon, oversimplifies the split-level electoral dynamic that is splintering authority between the parties.
That fragmentation of power is rooted in the racial trends noted above—and also in the overlapping generational and geographical realignments accompanying them. Since 1992, Democrats have built a powerful presidential coalition centered on three groups: young people (especially after millennials started voting in 2000), socially liberal whites (particularly both single and college-educated women), and racial minorities.
I call this alignment the "coalition of the ascendant," because its key components are growing in the electorate. Since 1992, minorities have more than doubled their vote share to 28 percent, and are on track to continue gaining roughly 2 percentage points every four years. Millennials represented less than one-fourth of eligible voters in 2012, but will reach 36 percent in 2020. And with more women than men obtaining degrees, college-educated white women could cast one in five ballots next year, nearly double their share in 1984.
Democratic presidential candidates have consistently performed well with these groups. In 2012, Obama won four-fifths of minorities, and although he slipped relative to 2008 with millennials and college-educated white women, he still carried three-fifths of the former and just under half of the latter. Those showings allowed Obama to overcome Mitt Romney winning more than three-fifths of both older and blue-collar whites. (Critically, though, Obama did better with those two groups in precisely the states where he most needed them: Rust Belt battlegrounds, including Ohio and Wisconsin.)
This demographic alignment doesn't guarantee Democrats permanent White House control; campaigns and conditions count. But if they remain strong with these growing groups, Democrats will retain a presidential edge in most years. In 2012, Obama won comfortably while carrying only 39 percent of whites, the lowest ever for a winner. If the minority vote share follows its projected growth trajectory, and Democrats win the roughly four-fifths of nonwhite voters they have attracted in all but one presidential election since 1976, the 2016 Democratic nominee could assemble a winning national majority with support from just 37 percent of whites.
Exit polls found that Republicans won 60 percent of whites in both their 2010 and 2014 House landslides. If the party's 2016 presidential nominee replicates that performance, he or she would almost certainly lose, absent major advances among minorities. If the GOP doesn't improve among minorities in 2016, its nominee could win only by approaching Ronald Reagan's white showing (64 percent) in his historic 1984 reelection. Realistically, the GOP needs more nonwhite support to regain the White House.