Mapping the Future


Michael Barone explains what some are calling the political map of the future

Of course it’s misleading. Congressional districts are of basically equal population, and Democrats tend to roll up big margins in densely populated areas. So while voters have elected at least 244 Republican congressmen and probably will end up with at least 247 — more than in any election since 1928 — the map overstates their dominance.

But it does tell us something about the geographic and cultural isolation of the core groups of the Democratic Party: gentry liberals and blacks.

These were the two groups gathered together when Barack Obama had the opportunity to draw the new lines of his state Senate district after the 2000 census. He combined the heavily black South Side of Chicago with Gold Coast gentry liberals north of the Loop.

Together, they provided him with an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base and with access to the upper financial and intellectual reaches of the Democratic Party — and, in short time, the presidency of the United States.

But blacks and gentry liberals by themselves are not a national majority, as the map suggests.

Add Hispanics and Single Women and Millennials to the mix, and you have the Obama Coalition. But as we learned in 2010 and 2014 (and as the White House admitted this week), the Obama Coalition and the Democratic Coalition is not a Venn Diagram of a single circle. Without Obama on the ticket, the Democrats are left with the core constituencies of blacks and gentry liberals. They can hold on to a sizable minorities on Capitol Hill, but only urban dominance in a double handful of states keeps them competitive in holding the White House.

The key then for the GOP is to find wedge issues to keep separate the Obama Coalition from the Democratic Coalition, and perhaps most importantly, to fight-fight-fight for the black vote.

Now that would make a real political map of the future.