Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate in recent history to lose popularity after a defeat, and she seems determined to keep it that way. Speaking in India over the weekend, she blamed Donald Trump’s election on voters who “didn’t like black people getting rights . . . don’t like women, you know, getting jobs . . . don’t wanna, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are.” She also claimed that “married white women” supported Mr. Trump in response to “pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son—whoever—believes you should.”
More interesting than this “basket of deplorables” redux, though, was Mrs. Clinton’s commentary on the role of economic concerns in the 2016 contest. “There’s all that red in the middle, where Trump won,” she said. “But what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.” To scattered applause, she continued: “So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”
This is an unexpected twist in the debate over Mr. Trump’s rise. Analysts on the center and right have tended to emphasize the economic factors that made Mr. Trump’s victory possible, noting that voters in regions with stagnating incomes and diminishing job opportunities are likelier to be drawn to populism. Many on the left, meanwhile, have argued that economic concerns are simply an excuse for bigotry. “Economic anxiety” is even a running joke on progressive Twitter —a sarcastic response to reports of racism among Republicans.
But now Mrs. Clinton herself has endorsed the “economic anxiety” thesis, albeit in a backhanded way. She sees her electoral disappointment in economically downscale regions not as a political failure but a source of validation—and, apparently, an indication of those voters’ failings. Similarly, last September she told Vox that the Electoral College is “an anachronism” in part because “I won in counties that produce two-thirds of the economic output in the United States.” Should those voters have more of a say?
Since Andrew Jackson, the Democratic Party has usually been identified as the party of the “common man,” and its adversaries as defenders of wealth and economic privilege. Jackson earned that reputation for his party by reducing property qualifications for the franchise for white men. But the Democrats’ most recent standard-bearer sounds an awful lot like the 19th-century conservatives who thought political representation should be tied to wealth. This is a significant moment in America’s partisan realignment.
It would seem Hillary doesn’t think the Democrats need to do anything to reattract 2016’s Democratic-leaning Trump voters.