She made a decision this campaign season to adopt the Democratic coalition that President Obama has built. This meant tilting her platform toward certain liberal demographics—minorities, urban populations, millennials, women—at the expense of others. The bet is that this is the future of the Democratic Party, and that it will pay off in the general election. But in the meantime she will struggle in states that a different kind of Democrat, like her husband, could have carried in the recent past.
Still, there is concern among certain Democrats that her losses in Indiana and West Virginia—heavily white, culturally conservative, more rural states—portend difficulties among white working class men in the general election, particularly in must-win states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. “The defeat in Indiana I was just horrified at, frankly,” a Clinton backer told Politico. “The longer Bernie stays in, and the longer he is not mathematically out of the process, the weaker we’re going to seem to be.”
But this weakness, if you can call it that, is baked into the cake. Clinton can and should make economic policy appeals to these voters, but she can’t put the values of her coalition—on the environment, guns, abortion, affirmative action, gay rights—at arm’s length. Clinton has decided to be an Obama Democrat because there’s no appetite for a standard-bearer in the Bill Clinton mould circa 1992, when he won Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the general election. Just ask Jim Webb.