From Ted Van Dyk at The Wall Street Journal, The Democrats’ Biggest Problem Is Cultural:
The Democratic voter exodus began in 1968 when millions of traditional blue-collar and middle-income voters moved to Republican Richard Nixon or third-party candidate George Wallace, a Democratic former governor of Alabama. Alienated by street and campus riots and disorder, these voters bought into the Nixon/Wallace law-and-order themes. Some also were attracted to their message that Great Society programs had overreached.
The shift, and the margin of Democratic loss, became far more dramatic in 1972. I was policy and platform director for George McGovern’s campaign. Our organizers and convention delegates were mostly from the generation that had come of age during the 1968 protests. They opposed the Vietnam War. But they were mostly interested in cultural and lifestyle issues—“acid, amnesty and abortion,” as Republicans called them, picking up a line that turned out to have originated with McGovern’s first running mate, Sen. Thomas Eagleton. Those Democrats gave short shrift to jobs, economic growth, public safety and other traditional voter concerns.
Their successors in the party have continued to focus on cultural issues with limited appeal. Their focus on political correctness and conformity has left an impression on traditional Democrats that their party leaders care more about transgender bathroom access than employment, the cost of living, education or public safety. Mrs. Clinton’s “deplorables” reference struck home with these voters.
Voters will be more forgivable and more receptive to social changes if the priorities of security and a sound economy are settled. But they will always be intolerant of smugness and contempt. Their policies of political correctness and identity priority are so illiberal that it alienates an important part of their base.