In Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, the most recent mayoral elections pitched normie police-friendly Democrats against woke progressive Democrats. Chicago’s Paul Vallas was the most popular* of the normies, raking in 47.8% of the votes, and Republicans should pay attention to his (almost) winning coalition:
White ethnics: These people already vote Republican. They are descendants of the Irish, Italians, Poles, etc. who formed the core of the American city in the late 1800s/early 1900s. They are not all that wealthy and form the core of Chicago’s fire and police departments.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both white ethnics, which got them needled for their “outer-borough accents” by the WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) who run National Review. Joe Biden also fits in this group; see his trip to Ireland.
Staten Island in NYC is famously a white ethnic enclave, which is why it votes Republican consistently while the rest of NYC votes Democrat.
Latinos: They could be a good group for Republicans. Many are solidly working class and motivated by kitchen-table concerns: They care about crime, inflation, and the economy, which drove them towards Paul Vallas over Brandon Johnson, though not by overpowering margins nor by impressive raw turnout.
Many Latinos are also patriotic, socially conservative, and instinctively populist, making them a great group for the New Right. Latinos are a driving force behind the rise of red Florida: They like how DeSantis is delivering on kitchen table issues while pushing back on open borders and transgender nonsense. Miami just wants to party on; it doesn’t want the blob to ruin the fun.
Unfortunately, the party did not happen in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods south of Little Village. Vallas’s win in those wards proved to be, above all, a token victory. Wards 12, 14, and 15 combined generated fewer total voters than the singular ward 46 located north of Lincoln Park and Logan Square, proving that earning the Latino vote is a different matter than cranking out Latino voters like Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) foot soldiers. Chicago could use some Latino conservative infrastructure like Miami’s Americano Media.
The business community: It’s not hard to see why commercial elites supported Paul Vallas. Walmart announced four store closures in Chicago shortly after Brandon Johnson got elected; apparently, he was bad for their bottom line.
Republicans have traditionally been too aligned with the business community and not aligned enough with working-class voters, but Democrats’ poor governance in the wake of BLM and COVID has opened up lots of room to maneuver.
Ideally, Republicans would somehow get corporate money without falling into the corporate libertarian rabbit hole of “the free market is the solution to everything.”
Construction and police unions: Vallas received support from both, demonstrating that organized labor is not a progressive monolith. Republicans would benefit from seriously considering alliances with construction and police unions.
Construction unions want to build things, which is increasingly impossible under byzantine progressive environmental and land use regulations—a problem Republicans also want to solve. Meanwhile, police unions have been invaluable in fighting back against the progressive billionaires, NGOs, activists, law professors, and judges who are waging the “war on cops”; they could surely use help from the national Republican Party.
Unions are also a source of funding and manpower that could help Republicans free themselves from total reliance on the business community.
Asians: They are based—just ask our very own Perry Zhao, Kevin Lam, and Aatman Vakil.
Asians went for Paul Vallas more than any other racial group, showing that progressive crime policies apparently do not square with Confucian social expectations. Unfortunately, Asians are not numerous enough to be a real political force, and history indicates that they avoid avidly participating in politics.
Nonetheless, Republicans should reliably gain larger shares of the Asian vote if they maintain tough-on-crime platforms. While Asians do not have a particular taste for taking center stage in politics, they generally do not enjoy getting mugged on the street: consider Chesa Boudin’s recall in San Francisco or Curtis Sliwa in NYC. They also have been known to partake in the occasional revolt against a woke school board.
Brandon Johnson’s Coalition
Brandon Johnson actually won the election, so his coalition is worth examining.
Yuppies: It’s not accurate to say that “lakeshore liberals” got Brandon Johnson elected; many of the wealthy lakeshore precincts actually went for Paul Vallas. The white liberals who came through for Brandon Johnson are best described as “young professionals.”
Many of them feel the brunt of our societal decline. Despite their elite credentials and expectations, they can’t obtain the level of financial security or social success they expect: see, for example, the universal popularity and disappointment of online dating.
The progressive movement is driven by this group’s unmet needs, especially for religion and degree holder sinecures. Activist NGOs create a lot of jobs for gender studies majors.
Republicans should push back against this group’s demands, which will help them curry favor with other groups.
Blacks: Urban blacks are some of the most alienated people in America; many of them live in struggling neighborhoods that have been bleeding residents for over fifty years. They have a strong preference for woke Democrats over corporate Republicans. Even though presidential candidate Donald Trump earned a larger share of the black vote in 2020 than George W. Bush or Mitt Romney with his populist-style campaign, he still only received twelve percent.
In line with that, Brandon Johnson ran attack ads portraying Vallas as a corporate Republican, which were highly effective and probably sunk Vallas’ campaign. On some level, the ads were true, as Paul Vallas was very much the neoliberal establishment candidate. He is an older white guy who spent his career carving charter schools off of public school districts.
The black community does have a conservative streak, though, and it’s not just Clarence Thomas. Blacks have a lot in common with Trump voters: Many blacks are Christian, not fond of immigration or crime, and negatively affected by job-offshoring free trade policies.
Populist candidate Willie Wilson drummed up significantly more support in most black precincts than Paul Vallas despite being arguably more conservative. Wilson’s gas giveaways were so attention-grabbing that Lori Lightfoot copied him, except using taxpayer money instead of her own fortune. Her political instincts are impeccable, as we all know.
Republicans could do a lot better in urban black neighborhoods than they are doing now, but it would require heavy doses of bridge-building and populism.
Teachers unions: If there was an award for “worst category of union,”American teachers unions would win. By and large, they have failed to win better pay and benefits for teachers. Instead, they have successfully bloated school staffing roles, made negligent teachers nearly impossible to fire, and kept public school governance dysfunctional.
Most important, teachers unions have failed to transform themselves into professional associations and make the teaching profession a proper profession. They cling instead to the adversarial, factory-floor model of organization, which works great at General Motors but not at Chicago Public Schools. CTU’s frequent strikes have cost them popularity, tanking their approval ratings below 50% in deep-blue Chicago.
At the same time, CTU has gone so overboard with its AOC-style progressive politics that its own members are filing lawsuits. Brandon Johnson is himself an ex-CTU lobbyist, which suggests buckets of cash will continue flowing to CPS but the underlying fundamentals will not change.
Students are increasingly deserting CPS anyway, though, so it may not matter much.
* Eric Adams only became mayor because of NYC’s messed-up ranked-choice voting system, and he likely would not have been elected in a one-on-one contest with a progressive candidate. He did not get a majority of votes in the Democratic primary, which is the only election that matters in NYC; getting a majority of votes in the general election against a Republican doesn’t count.
** The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.