By KARL ROVE —
Many are arguing these days that President Obama has forged a new majority coalition of women, minorities, young people and upscale cultural liberals so large and durable that he can do what no president has done before—pursue a very liberal agenda without serious opposition or defections from his own party. Demography is destiny, this argument holds, and it is irrevocably on the side of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party.
Yes, there will be fewer whites and more minorities in the future, and Republicans will have to adjust. But the situation is more complicated than that.
Start with the obvious: If demographics were determinative, then Republicans shouldn’t have gained 63 seats in the House of Representatives in 2010—the largest midterm shift since 1938—while also taking 30 governorships.
When presidential re-elections yielded realignments in the past, the winner earned a bigger share of the vote than he had in the past. FDR won 60.8% of the vote in 1936 after winning 57.41% in 1932. But Mr. Obama won 51.06% in 2012, down from 52.87% in 2008. Over the course of his first term, his support dropped among young people (a swing of 2.4 million net votes to Mitt Romney), women (a net swing of 1.6 million votes to Mr. Romney), and African-Americans (a net swing 945,000 votes).
And while Mr. Obama may believe he can ignore moderate and conservative whites, congressional Democrats would disagree. Mr. Obama won Florida by a razor-thin 74,309 votes (0.9% of the total), yet Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won re-election by 1,065,184 votes, or 13%, many from white voters. In North Dakota, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp won a Senate seat by less than 1% while Mr. Obama lost by 20%, and in West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin won re-election by 24% while Mr. Obama lost by 27%. Such Democrats from swing states or districts will be uncomfortable with Mr. Obama’s strategy of playing to his party’s left wing.