Friday, November 19, 2021

Wanted: More Working Class Voters

In my latest for The Liberal Patriot I discuss how the Democrats can reach more working class voters, drawing on the new Jacobin study and explaining how the party could rebrand itself to be more attractive to such voters.
"Times are tough for the historic party of the working class. The divorce between Democrats and the working class just continues to grow. Despite a slight improvement, Democrats still lost white working class (noncollege) voters in 2020 by 26 points (Catalist two party vote). Since 2012, nonwhite working class voters have shifted away from the Democrats by 18 points, with a particularly sharp shift in the last election and particularly among Hispanics.
In the recent Virginia gubernatorial election, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe lost working class voters overall by 7 points, with large swings against the Democrats among the overwhelmingly working class Hispanic population (the same basic pattern can be seen in the New Jersey election results).
Recent generic Congressional ballot results show Democrats’ working class support as the mirror image of their college graduate support—strongly negative among working class voters, strongly positive among college graduate voters. But there are way more working class voters than college graduate voters.
It’s not a good look for the party of the working class to be losing so much working class support that it’s no longer, well, the party of the working class. But of course it goes way beyond the look to the realities of electoral performance and political power. Put simply, there’s just no way Democrats can maintain a consistent hold on political power with this level of working class support. And if there’s no consistent hold on power, the economic and social transformation they claim to be promoting cannot happen....
Working-class voters prefer progressive candidates who focus primarily on bread-and-butter economic issues, and who frame those issues in universal terms. This is especially true outside deep-blue parts of the country. Candidates whose campaigns focused primarily on universalist policy issues such as jobs, health care, and the economy performed better than those who focused on group-specific policies, such as racial justice or immigration. In addition, woke messaging decreased the appeal of other candidate characteristics. For example, candidates employing woke messaging who championed either centrist or progressive economic, health care, or civil rights policy priorities were viewed less favorably than their counterparts who championed the same priorities but opted for universalist messaging.....
A Democratic brand reset is clearly in order to stop the bleeding among working class voters, along the lines suggested by the Jacobin study. A good way to start would be to embrace widely-held American views and values that are particularly strong among the multiracial working class....
Besides positively embracing these views it is necessary for major Democratic officeholders and candidates to actively dissociate themselves and their party from the woke stances that contradict these views and tarnish their brand among working class voters. That entails not just saying that one does not endorse now-familiar strands of cultural leftism but in some well-chosen places directly criticizing by name some who hold extreme views that are associated with the Democrats. That will be of great assistance in getting the message through to average working class voters....
The truth of the matter is that these views are entirely consistent with a very progressive Democratic program in the areas of health care, education, social programs, jobs and the economy that would disproportionately benefit the poor and working class, and therefore blacks and Hispanics. And this approach, unlike the Democrats’ current default setting, has the potential to make the Democrats and their progressive policies consistent winners. In that sense, one might respond to the inevitable accusation that a universalist, mainstream approach is tantamount to throwing loyal Democratic constituencies in need of help “under the bus”: who is throwing whom under the bus? Perhaps it is those who stand in the way of a Democratic approach that could plausibly generate the widest possible support that are throwing those who need help the most under the bus."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot....and subscribe!

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