Joe Biden's High-Wire Act Is (Probably) Working
To be a successful Democratic president you have to disappoint every part of your coalition much of the time.
On tonight’s livestream it’s going to be me and Will Saletan and I’m planning to spend most of our time off the news, having a broader discussion about [gestures broadly] all of this.
It’ll be a good show. But probably a short show.
8pm in the East. Only for members of Bulwark+.
1. The White Working Class?
Joe Biden understands that the Democratic party is a broad and disparate coalition and that this coalition has white working-class voters as a large constituent group—even if white working-class voters as a whole are majority Republican.
My buddy David Byler talked about this at length on Monday when he emphasized two seemingly-contradictory truths:
In 2020 Trump won whites without a college degree by 2-to-1.
In 2020, 1 out of every 3 votes Biden got were from whites without a college degree.
Here’s the graphic Byler made to illustrate it:
Here is the key point about understanding coalition politics: Political power is a function of both the absolute size of the group AND the percentage breakdown of the group’s preference. If a group is big enough, then it is important to you even if you get only a small percentage of that group voting for you.
So even though Democrats might look at working-class whites and think “This is a core Republican group,” the immense size of working-class whites means that even getting a third of that vote is desperately important for Democrats.
Or, to put it in a way that might feel more familiar to Democrats: Imagine how freaked out you’d be if, in 2024, Republicans won a third of black and Hispanic voters.
Point is: Joe Biden has governed exactly as someone who understands this key truth. Which is why you have stories like this: