Not So Fast, Byron!

The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York takes a legitimate question about the Obama electoral coalition and turns it into a dubious fact:

[H]is success relied on a coalition that likely will not survive, or at least survive at full strength, without Obama himself on the ticket.

The thing is, we don’t know that. It is possible that the exceptionally high percentages and relatively high turnout among young people and minorities that characterized the 2008 and 2012 elections was primarily attributable to Obama’s name on the ballot. But it’s also entirely possible that repellent Republican behavior had a lot to do with it, solidifying the coalition at least through the next presidential election. Similarly, the relatively good showing among young and minority voters by Republicans in 2010 and 2014 may have been attributable in part or in whole to Obama not being on the ballot. Or it may have been attributable to the same dynamics that diminished turnout for these groups as compared to others, with more conservative voters voting in higher proportions.

If either of the alternative hypotheses I have offered are true, then it’s Republicans as much as if not more than Democrats who need to be worrying about the shift to a presidential cycle. But more generally, it would be smart for people in both parties to be cautious about their coalitions going into 2016.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.