2020 Democrats face the most diverse electorate in history



By Ronald Brownstein with graphics by Joyce Tseng, CNN

One of the defining characteristics of the 2020 Democratic presidential contest is the unprecedented diversity of the field, which already features more women and minority candidates than ever.

But even more significant than the increasing variety of the contenders may be the growing diversity of the primary voters who will choose among them. Over the past decade, the electorate in the Democratic presidential primary has grown more racially diverse, better educated and more heavily tilted toward female voters, an extensive new CNN analysis of exit poll data has found.

“We’re going to see an intensifying trend toward an electorate that is more diverse, better educated, and possibly, this time, even 60 percent or more of the voters will be women,” @RonBrownstein says about the Democratic electorate in 2020. https://t.co/IXC9sRHBhypic.twitter.com/VOzxKSTV6q

— New Day (@NewDay) February 12, 2019

Party strategists almost universally expect those trends to persist, and even accelerate in 2020, as minority, white-collar and female voters continue to recoil from President Trump. Just two of the demographic groups most alienated from Trump -- white women with college degrees and African-American women at all education levels -- could compose as much of two-fifths of all Democratic primary voters next year, the CNN exit poll analysis suggests.

“The area of growth for 2020 is going to be more female, more educated and more diverse,” says Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The area of growth for 2020 is going to be more female, more educated and more diverse.


As those groups grow, the working-class white voters who once constituted the backbone of the Democratic coalition are likely to continue their long-term decline as a share of the primary electorate next year everywhere but the Rust Belt.

“Non-college whites are a declining proportion of our coalition and the primary,” says Ben Tulchin, the 2016 pollster for Bernie Sanders. “Especially in the era of Trump, where we have continued to struggle with white working class voters.”

From all these directions, it now appears likely that the most diverse field of presidential candidates in the Democrats’ history will face the most diverse electorate the party has ever attracted.

“The Democratic primary to me is a focused encapsulation of the changes that are happening more broadly in America,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster who focuses on African-American voters. “It is where you’ll see the unfolding, growing, power of the minority vote focused and you will see it in force first.”

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