The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has run into difficulties in marketing itself to minority voters, particularly Blacks and Latinos. Many members of these communities have shown reluctance to get on board with some of progressives’ boldest policy proposals – including those which are ostensibly meant to improve the lives of those same minority voters.
The dynamic was visible in the recent New York City mayoral election, in which centrist Democrat Eric Adams took a strong lead, beating out several more progressive Democrats. Adams, a former police officer who strongly rejected calls to “defund the police,” won large shares of the vote in Black and Latino communities.
Similar forces seem to have been at work in the 2020 presidential election, when Donald Trump made surprising gains with Black and Latino voters, and in the failure of progressive standard-bearer Bernie Sanders to gain large shares of the minority vote.
All of this is forcing progressive Democrats to confront the uncomfortable possibility that minority voters simply may not be enthusiastic about many of their proposals, particularly those related to crime and policing.
As The New York Times recently reported, there is polling evidence to suggest that Blacks and Latinos are a more politically diverse group than progressive rhetoric may suggest. In the words of analyst Hakeem Jefferson, Black people “talk about politics in more practical and everyday terms,” and the median Black voter “is actually closer to Eric Adams” than to progressives.
In particular, many voters who live in areas with high crime rates tend to support increasing the numbers of police officers in their neighborhoods.
These trends throw into question the notion, frequently promoted by Democrats in recent years, that the increasing ethnic diversity of the United States will help to bring about a permanent Democratic hold on political power. On the contrary, they suggest that Democrats will have to work a lot harder in order to win Black and Latino votes.
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