Seems that Nate Silver has finally caught on to the point I’d been harping on here for a while: that Missing White Voters are a big deal electorally and that Sanders, much more than Trump, has been drawing them. Indeed, the “independents” have been the secret sauce behind Sanders’ success in the primaries.
What Trump has been doing is that he has been pissing off the regular Republicans: they are, apparently, increasingly lining up behind Trump now that there is no more race among the Republicans. A large chunk of Sanders voters, upwards of 1/3 at least, as I’d been estimating based on exit polls, cannot be counted on line up behind Clinton should she be the nominee. The bounceback in polls that one might expect for Clinton after she formally wraps up the nomination cannot be as large as that for Trump: Trump is merely getting back the Republicans who favored “real Republicans” returning home now that there is no other Republicans. Clinton has to win over the Sanders supporters who were not Democrats to begin with if she wants to win.
This is going to be a tricky challenge. Many of these are not ideological voters. The conventional left-right dimension in politics means much less to them than those who are more politically “sophisticated.” No amount of triangulation can win them over: they simultaneously want more “liberal” policy and less “liberal” policy from the government; they are interested in more interventionist, regulationist, protectionst, and inward looking US federal government–exactly the opposite of the kind of government Clinton and DLC, as well as the regular Republicans, have been promising, and had been promised by both Sanders and Trump, albeit with serious stylistic differences. The triangulationist-centrist instincts of the Clintons will spell disaster for them. What Hillary Clinton needs is the Good Old Boy Southern charm of her husband to cover up the sharp political edges of her program, but times are much worse for the Missing White Voters than they were in 1992 and the Clintons have lost so much of their old credibility that it is not at all clear that that will be enough.