The Democratic National Committee will choose its next leader on Saturday, and when it does it should choose a leader who will resist the pressure to pursue the wrong white people. Hundreds of articles have been written about the imperative of attracting more support from white working-class voters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 but then bolted to back Donald J. Trump, writes an op-ed in the NY Times.
The far more important — and largely untold — story of the election is that more Obama voters defected to third- and fourth-party candidates than the number who supported Mr. Trump. That is the white flight that should most concern the next D.N.C. chairman, because those voters make up a more promising way to reclaim the White House. The way to win them back is by being more progressive, not less.
To be clear, all white voters matter. But Democrats must make tough, data-driven decisions about how to prioritize their work. Right now, too many are using bad math and faulty logic to push the party to chase the wrong white voters. Mr. Trump only picked up 784,000 white votes in the 10 battleground states he won by single digits.
In Pennsylvania, the Democrats’ problem was not with white voters, but with African-Americans. Mrs. Clinton actually improved on the Democratic 2012 results with whites, but over 130,000 unenthused black voters stayed home, and she lost by about 44,000 votes.
Keith Ellison, a D.N.C. chairman candidate, has a proven record of engaging core Democratic voters rather than chasing the elusive conservative whites, and the party would be in good hands under his stewardship.
Whoever prevails as chairman must resist the pressure to follow an uninformed and ill-fated quest for winning over conservative white working-class voters in the Midwest.