How Democrats Solve Their Geography Problem

Source: Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly, January 14, 2019

In a cover package in our latest issue, the Washington Monthly argues that the Democratic Party’s most profound—but fixable—problem is geography. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats rode a “blue wave” of support to their first House majority since 2011. Yet, even with a nine-point advantage in the national vote, they lost a net of two Senate seats. That’s because their voters are increasingly clustered in solid-blue states like California and New York and too thin on the ground in states like North Dakota and Ohio. If this situation continues, Democrats will have a tough time ever regaining the Senate (where sparsely and heavily populated states each get two senators) and may continue to lose the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote.

The challenge is not only that Democrats have hemorrhaged support in economically declining rural areas. It’s also that metro areas in red and purple states, which generally support Democrats, haven’t been growing enough to offset those rural losses. Instead, growth in income and opportunity has overwhelmingly flowed to a handful of large metro areas on or near the coasts—precisely the places where Democrats are wracking up millions of “wasted” votes.

Democrats can fix their geography problem, our latest issue argues, only by confronting this regional economic inequality. And the best and only way to do that is to reverse the national policies that caused the problem in the first place: the abandonment of antitrust and other measures that once ensured that every part of the country could compete economically, which has since enabled the rise of monopoly firms that cluster opportunity in a few lucky coastal megacities like San Francisco and New York…..