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With Trump in Near Free-Fall, Should Democrats Prioritize Swing Voters at the Expense of Their Base? No.

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Washington, DC— Republicans are panicking. Four days of Trump attacks on a dignified American Muslim Gold Star Family, along with his refusal to apologize to them and other patriotic heroes, have turbocharged Hillary Clinton’s post-convention bounce. Talk of an intervention with Trump is in the air. Talk of a landslide election is in the air, too.

What should Democrats do? Shift to the middle in hopes of picking off white swing voters—independents and moderate Republicans—or continue to keep their focus on mobilizing the base?

According to progressive Steve Phillips, author of a new book “Brown is the New White,” it’s all about the base:

“Conventional wisdom in U.S. politics is that, in order to win, you have to avoid alienating white swing voters, which usually results in distancing yourself from people of color and their [political] agenda. But the demographic revolution of the past 50 years has transformed the U.S. to where the percentage of people of color in the population has grown from 12 percent to 38 percent. Now, there is what I call a “New American Majority” consisting of progressive people of color and progressive whites. That’s the coalition that elected Obama, and when it has been uninspired and ignored — as happened in 2010 and 2014 — voters of color have stayed home, and Democrats have lost badly. We need to run toward people of color instead of away from them in order to win.”

Phillips is onto something. Below we look at recent findings regarding Latino voters and millennials that support his thesis.

Let’s start with Latinos in Florida. By all accounts, Florida is amust-win state for Trump. Yesterday, Univision reported on a new poll of Florida Latino voters finds that Trump is underperforming John McCain’s Latino margin by some 30 points—and McCain lost the state:

“Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be facing an insurmountable wall among Latino voters in the key swing state of Florida: only 12.9% support among Hispanic voters, according to a new survey. It is a ‘historical low for a Republican candidate,’ said Eduardo Gamarra, co-author of New Latino Voice, an online poll conducted by Florida International University and Adsmovil … John McCain won 42% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, compared to 31% nationwide. Four years later, Mitt Romney got 39% of the Latino vote in Florida, compared to 27% nationally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.”

Trump’s Latino support is down from this spring. In April, Latino Decisions found that Florida Latino voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 69%-18% margin. In a separate analysis, Latino Decisions found that, based on the most likely composition of the Florida electorate, the Republican nominee would need in the neighborhood of 47% of the Latino vote in Florida to win the state.

As Whit Ayres, Republican pollster, tells Politico:

“When you have gone out of your way to antagonize the Hispanic community, and when you’ve threatened to deport a number of Hispanics comparable to the population of Ohio, it is eminently predictable that you will do worse than Mitt Romney’s 27 percent among Hispanics…Consequently, any state with a significant and growing population — not just Colorado and Nevada, but Florida and North Carolina and maybe Arizona — will be a lot more difficult for you.”

Stuart Stevens, Republican strategist, tells the Washington Post:

“There is only one path forward to becoming a governing party, and it is in appealing to a larger, nonwhite electorate. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 57 percent of the white vote and won a sweeping landslide. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 59 percent and lost, with a higher percentage of white voters turning out than in 1980 … You can argue if there is a moral imperative for the Republican Party to reach more nonwhite voters to be a governing party. (I’d say there is.) But you can’t argue if there is a political imperative. It’s just math.”

Now let’s look at millennials. Ron Brownstein finds, in a new piece in The Atlantic, that the number of registered millennial voters has grown by at least 40% in each of the following battleground states – Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Highlighting recent millennial-specific polling, Brownstein notes:

“…three-fourths of battleground-state Millennials described Trump as a racist; an equal number said he does not respect women. Nearly seven-in-ten said they “would be ashamed of my country” if Trump wins. (Trump’s extended post-convention confrontation with the Muslim-American Khan family is unlikely to improve those numbers.)” These findings echo what America’s Voice has long noted – that younger voters are overwhelmingly pro-immigrant and more comfortable with the changing demographics of America than older segments of the electorate….

Clinton’s best asset is that so many Millennials see Trump as antithetical to the inclusive diverse America they welcome. But Baumann [pollster Andrew Baumann of Project New America] said that cultural affinity likely won’t be enough to generate the Millennial turnout and margins Clinton needs. On issues from student debt to climate, he said, ‘They want to vote for somebody who has positive positions that they think will make America better, and at least before the convention they weren’t see that from Hillary Clinton.’ In the growing ranks of Millennial voters, Clinton isn’t running so much against Trump as against lingering doubts about her passions and priorities.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “For Democrats, it’s not enough to cheer Trump’s implosion and hope it does the work for them. They have to invest heavily in the key constituencies that make up the New American Majority so that these voters turn out. Such a sustained commitment will help elect progressives up and down the ballot, and this is the best way to ensure the 2016 election leads to meaningful policy changes.”