Preface: I don’t know the answer, I am just posing a question here.
We’ve spent a lot of time on this site talking about the death of “swing” voters and how elections are now effectively turnout wars. That remains basically true, but as we discussed last week, specific issues like student loan forgiveness can swing voters one way or another, even if most issues that are played these days are polarizing ones that fire up each party’s respective base.
Enter into the conversation the “DeSantis Democrats.”
Much like Jesse Helms who had his “Jessecrats” and Ronald Reagan who had “Reagan Democrats”, DeSantis is a hard-right (or is it Faux Right?) figure who has a crossover appeal. This should shatter the myth of centrist voters that swing back-and-forth between the parties deciding elections, but it never has, as political operatives still see “swing” voters as an important part of their business model both in terms of consulting and in terms of being media darlings.
So who exactly are the “DeSantis Democrats?” Besides really being traditional Democratic-leaning NPA’s?
This is a key question that we need more data to answer but they appear to be culturally conservative, economically left people, worked up about cultural issues like “Woke Education.” masking in public places, a history that glorifies empire and manifest destiny (though they’re strangely quite isolationist today), scientists, college professors and gender reassignment. But they expect a certain gravy train of government benefits as well as leaders who use the power of government to enforce the cultural norms they see as they as quintessentially American and a protectionist state that shields their work from competition either from abroad or from immigrants to the US. They are effectively further to the left on economics than the average Democratic establishment figure which is now skewing wealthier and more urbane (the drift of the Democrats toward elitist neo-liberalism isn’t our topic today, but does play a part in this potential realignment, as Democrats are finding it harder than ever to appeal to the working class voter of all races).
In the UK, the Tory party has embarked on a similar ideology, which has led to the highest inflation rates in the western sphere (the US actually has the lowest) as well as cultural divisions that now pit neighbor against neighbor and co-worker against co-worker. It has also led to polling numbers that will almost certainly usher in a Labour government in the next election, though Labour like the Democrats in the US are seeing its leaders skew more urbane and wealthy than ever.
“DeSantis Democrats,” may share some cultural values with traditional conservatives but are radically different in terms of how they see government as a potential ally in enforcing cultural norms and economic status – and the question is whether they can create a lasting majoritarian movement that carries their man into the White House. In Florida, they have created a record-breaking coalition, but just for a single election cycle.
Can this coalition hold together and be a national movement?
As 2023 begins that is the question to ponder.