Jamelle Bouie at Slate explains that just because embittered white folks helped carry the narrow vote for Britain to leave the E.U., it doesn’t necessarily make it so that Donald Trump will win over here.
Here in the United States, our polls show a substantial Trump loss in the general election against Hillary Clinton, just as they showed a substantial Trump win in the Republican presidential primaries. The chief reason is that, unlike the U.K., the U.S. has a large voting population of nonwhites: Latinos, black Americans, Asian Americans, etc. In Britain, “black and minority ethnic” people make up about 8 percent of the electorate. By contrast, people of color account for nearly 1 in 3 American voters. In practice, this means that in the past two national elections, there has been an electoral penalty for embracing the most reactionary elements of national life. And we see this in the polling between Trump and Clinton. If the United States were largely white—if its electorate were as monochromatic as Britain’s—then Trump might have the advantage. As it stands, people of color in America are acting as a firewall for liberalism—an indispensable barrier to this surge of ethno-nationalism. Complacency isn’t called for, but confidence isn’t wrong either.
The other thing to remember is that not all ethnic groups vote as a bloc. Yes, the vast majority of African-Americans belong in the Democratic camp, as do a number of Hispanic/Latino voters, but it’s not because they all agree on the party platform or prefer Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump. The reasons are as varied as the make-up of the blocs, and by and large they’re not as socially liberal or as willing to separate church and state as your average Democrat. Indeed, the family structure and religious affiliation are powerful elements that would have you believe that they should go along with the hacked and cynical appeal to “family values” that has become the rallying cry of the GOP over the last forty years.
The main reason is that when it comes to being embittered and embattled, the complaints of the cranky old white folks or the gun-rattling stars-and-bars wavers pale — literally — when compared to the everyday racism and indignities faced by people of color in America.
So no, the Democrats shouldn’t take a single vote or bloc for granted, but at least when it comes to knowing who’s got your back and who’s more likely to burden it, the answer is pretty black and white.