I spoke with The Atlantic‘s Ron Brownstein about the 2016 presidential map as a window into the congressional electoral future.
The vividly contrasting voting patterns of 2016, with Trump posting big gains over Romney in heavily blue-collar House districts and Clinton improving over Obama in a broad swathe of white-collar districts, may have offered a fast-forward preview of how the House may evolve in coming years. “It was like looking decades in the future, and this is what it looks like,” said GOP strategist Liam Donovan, referring to the 2016 results. “If you just push down the gas and let it rip [on the class resorting], this is what it is going to look like.”
“Where Hillary enjoyed a big bump in these congressional districts, it was clustered in the affluent ’burbs of Dallas, Atlanta, D.C., Chicago, L.A.,” said Donovan, the GOP strategist and director of legislative and political affairs for the Associated Builders and Contractors trade association. “The question for the long run is: What is more likely, that those people fully evolve into Democratic voters or do they snap back to the Republicans?”
As education and diversity levels both rise, Republicans are divided over whether the long-term demographic swap in each party’s House caucus is a good bet for the party. Patrick Ruffini, a GOP consultant who specializes in demographic trends, said House Republicans can offset any Trump-era losses in white-collar and diverse districts with even deeper gains among blue-collar voters or by finding creative ways to separate themselves from him. “To what extent are you going to see the non-college white population … feeling even more alienated and therefore voting more Republican?” he said. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s top White House strategist, also pointed to a blue-collar GOP future when he told The Washington Post in an email Tuesday that the administration is “developing populist nation-state policies that are supported by the vast and overwhelming majority of Americans, but are poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of our larger cities.”
Tom Davis, by contrast, is dubious Republicans will ultimately benefit from this rolling class realignment: “It didn’t surprise me that Trump saw this [resorting] and put an exclamation point on it,” Davis said, “but it’s still a loser for Republicans long-term.” Donovan largely agrees: “Even as these Trump [blue-collar] gains happened, the share of the non-college white vote actually dropped and the college vote increased. So if you are handicapping the future … going all in on the Trump path is a dangerous proposition.”
Full piece here– recommended reading.