America is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, and deeply religious republic. If one or both parties can embrace each element of that reality, then we have a chance to make sure that seismic shift moves our politics towards the respectful pluralism that America requires.
There’s talk of realignment in the air. If you think all the way back to 2012, you might remember a certain phrase—the coalition of the ascendant. This was the Obama coalition, the collection of all of America’s growing demographics, from nonwhite voters to single women. The Romney voters, by contrast, were fading. White, Christian, and married, they were the demographic losers in a population that was becoming both more diverse and more secular. Democratic dominance was inevitable.
That analysis should have caused us to feel a certain looming dread. Nations that use race or ethnicity as the organizing principle of politics are often quite unstable, and quite violent. This is true across the world, and it’s true in our own land. Systematic racial division and oppression fractured the country once. It’s foolish to think it couldn’t fracture again—especially when the political class intentionally mobilizes voters to vote as a racial bloc.
Optimistic Democrats didn’t see Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 so much as a refutation of the coalition of the ascendant theory as a quirk of the electoral college and a reminder that Hillary Clinton wasn’t Barack Obama. The nation wasn’t quite majority-minority yet, and thus that the white majority could still win races when identity politics reign supreme.
But 2020 told a different tale. The Democrats got whiter, the Republicans got more diverse, and now all the assumptions are scrambled. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a far wider margin than he did in 2016, but he did materially better with Hispanic, Asian, and black voters. In fact, Trump did better than Romney with nonwhite voters in 2016 (an improvement then mainly attributed to Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses), and he improved on that showing in 2020. What was once seen as an aberration now looks like a trend.
The trend continues. Last week Axios’s Josh Kraushaar described an ongoing “seismic shift” in the two parties’ coalitions. As outlined in a New York Times/Siena College poll, “Democrats now have a bigger advantage with white college graduates than they do with nonwhite voters.” The Democratic Party’s losses with Hispanics are remarkable. Whereas Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, and Biden won 65 percent in 2020, now the Hispanic vote is “statistically tied.”
Moreover, there are good reasons to believe that Hispanic voters will continue to migrate to the GOP. As Ruy Teixeira described this week on his Substack, comprehensive issue polling from Echelon Insights demonstrates that strong progressives have substantially different political and cultural views from Hispanics.
Hispanic voters are far more likely to believe that America is “the greatest country in the world,” far less likely to support defunding the police, far less likely to believe “racism is built into our society,” and far less likely to believe that transgender athletes should play on sports teams that match their current gender identity. In most cases, the polling gap is just immense.
What accounts for such monumental differences in beliefs in values? As my colleague Jonah Goldberg often (and rightly) says, we should reject monocausal explanations for complex social phenomena, but here’s a factor that simply isn’t discussed enough. The Democratic Party has a huge “God gap,” and that God gap is driving a wedge between its white and nonwhite voters.
Let’s look at the data. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey on American religious beliefs provides us with a picture that’s worth a thousand words: