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Good morning. We’re looking at Democrats’ biggest weakness, and why it matters in Georgia.
The Bronx vs. Manhattan
The Democratic Party’s biggest problem today is its struggle to win over working-class voters.
After President Trump’s 2016 victory, some political analysts argued that this problem was really all about racism. And Trump’s appeals to white nationalism certainly won him votes.
But it’s also clear that the Democrats’ weakness with working-class voters — defined roughly as people without a four-year college degree — is not only about race. Many Trump voters, after all, voted for Barack Obama in 2012, which suggests they’re not incorrigible racists.
Perhaps even more telling is the shape of this year’s results. Not only did Trump again win by huge margins among working-class whites, but he also fared better among Hispanic voters than he did in 2016. Black voters strongly backed Democrats again, but their turnout appears to have risen less than turnout for other groups.
All of which points to the same issue: The Democratic message is failing to resonate with many working-class Americans.
If the Democrats’ struggles were really all about racism, several heavily Mexican-American counties in South Texas would not have swung to the Republicans this year. Nor would Trump have increased his vote share in the New York boroughs of Queens and the Bronx by about 10 percentage points versus 2016. He appears to have won a higher share of the vote in the Bronx, which is only 9 percent non-Hispanic white, than in affluent Manhattan, which is 47 percent white, Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report pointed out.
This pattern leaves Democrats needing to attract a lot votes in traditionally Republican suburbs to win many elections. That’s a narrow path to victory. Georgia — where two runoffs on Jan. 5 will determine control of the Senate — is a good case study.
Joe Biden was the only Democrat to win statewide this year, mostly because he made bigger gains in the Atlanta suburbs than other members of the party. Biden and other Democrats were crushed in heavily white rural areas, often winning less than 30 percent of the vote, and also fell short of their 2016 margins among Hispanic voters. “The Black share of the electorate fell to its lowest level since 2006,” according to a Times analysis of Georgia.
How can Democrats do better with the working-class? It’s not an easy question. (Left-leaning parties in Europe are having similar struggles.)
But there are some hints. Many working-class voters, across racial groups, are moderate to conservative on social issues: They are religious, favor well-funded police departments and support some restrictions on both abortion and immigration. On economic issues, by contrast, they tend to back Democratic positions, like a higher minimum wage and expanded government health care.
For Democrats to do better with the working class, they probably need to moderate their liberal image on social issues — and double down on economic populism.
Related: My colleague Astead Herndon, reporting from Decatur, Ga., asks whether the Georgia suburbs can help Democrats win the upcoming Senate runoffs.
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ARTS AND IDEAS
The world of Cartel TikTok
Tiger cubs, luxury cars, semiautomatic weapons and piles of cash: Welcome to Cartel TikTok, a growing genre of videos on the platform that glorify drug trafficking groups in Mexico.
Drug cartels have used social media for years, to send messages to rival gangs, intimidate the public and recruit new members. Experts say the TikTok videos are the latest propaganda efforts designed to attract young recruits. “It’s narco-marketing,” Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist, told The Times.
The hashtag #CartelTikTok has 38 million views on TikTok. The trend can be traced back to last month, when a clip of a high-speed boat chase went viral. TikTok’s algorithm helped the trend along by leading viewers to similar videos afterward. “As soon as I started liking that boat video, then there’s videos of exotic pets, videos of cars,” one 18-year-old told The Times. It’s “kind of like watching a movie,” he said.
Though TikTok’s policy is to remove content that promotes illegal activity, new videos crop up just as quickly to replace them. It’s another example of how difficult it is for social media platforms to regulate their vast networks, and how easy it is for every new platform to be co-opted.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
The pangrams from Friday’s Spelling Bee were daywork, workaday, workday and yardwork. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: X (# letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. CNN Business wrote about the success of “The Daily,” which has grown to four million daily downloads and now tops the news podcast charts on both Apple and Spotify.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” includes an interview with the Georgia elections official who called on Trump to stop spreading misinformation. On the latest Book Review podcast, David Sedaris talks about his life as an essayist.
Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.