While Mr. Biden rebuilt the Democrats’ Blue Wall — reclaiming the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — he carried them by a fraction of the margins former President Barack Obama achieved in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. As long as Republicans manage to amass enormous leads with working-class white voters, those states may not be safely Democratic anytime soon.
Just as troubling to the party, Democrats sagged with voters of color, particularly in Hispanic and Asian-American communities where Republicans’ attacks on Democrats as a left-wing party appear to have resonated, denying Mr. Biden a victory in Florida and costing the Democrats congressional seats in that state as well as Texas and California. Indeed, the only House seats Republicans picked up that were not in districts Mr. Trump also carried were in heavily Hispanic or Asian regions.
On a Democratic conference call this past week, Representative Linda Sanchez, a former member of the House leadership, criticized Democrats’ Latino outreach strategy as a dismal failure, according to two people who participated on the call. And Representative Donna Shalala of Florida, who lost her seat in a heavily Hispanic district, complained on the call that her party did not effectively rebut Republicans’ portrayal of Democrats as socialists.
“Defund police, open borders, socialism — it’s killing us,” said Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from South Texas who won just over 50 percent of the vote two years after he nearly captured 60 percent. “I had to fight to explain all that.”
The “average white person,” Mr. Gonzalez added, may associate socialism with Nordic countries, but to Asian and Hispanic migrants it recalls despotic “left-wing regimes.”
Representative Harley Rouda of California, an Orange County Democrat who narrowly lost his bid for re-election, said the party needed to deliver a more assertive and moderate message if it wanted to claim districts like his. Mr. Rouda, who is planning to run again in 2022, said he suffered with centrist voters and his district’s numerous Vietnamese-American voters, many of whom recoil from the rhetoric of socialism.
“This narrative that the Democratic Party is borderline socialist, we need to fight back harder on that because it’s simply not true,” he said. “We needed to be more forceful in defending the moderate position of the Democratic Party as a whole.”