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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New TDS Strategy White Paper: Beyond the Tea Partiers

From time to time TDS publishes “strategy white papers” that provide an in-depth analysis of major strategic issues facing the Democratic Party and its leaders. Today we are publishing a new strategy white paper by Andrew Levison, whose study of white-working-class voters dates back all the way to the 1970s.
Levison’s study begins by isolating non-college-educated white voters who are not attracted to the Tea Party Movement, but who are rapidly trending Republican, as an important strategic target for Democrats in 2010 and particularly in 2012. He then examines the often-heard proposition that a strong anti-corporate “populist” message is the key to attracting these voters, and finds it lacking in terms of the strong anti-government and anti-politics sentiments that have become an entrenched factor in the world views of many non-college educated voters in recent years. He instead suggests a comprehensive message of “government reform” that addresses the legitimate and perceived concerns of those white working class voters who are still open to persuasion, and that contextualizes progressive policy proposals in a way that makes them far more acceptable to skeptics of government and politics.
Levison’s paper, which draws on the extensive academic literature on the white working class, along with public opinion research, communications theory and sociological findings, provides, we believe, something of a landmark on a subject of perennial interest to progressives, and of considerable urgency given today’s political landscape. It also constitutes a good antidote to oversimplified media discussions of the Tea Party Movement and of “populism,” by looking at what non-college-educated voters actually think and how they process information on politics and government. It is well worth the time it takes to read, digest, and we hope, discuss with others.

One comment on “New TDS Strategy White Paper: Beyond the Tea Partiers

  1. janinsanfran on

    Good paper … the sort of thing that people who actually talk with voters notice and which people who merely design media have a hard time taking in.
    Just as the author suggests that finding interviewers capable of detecting nuance is hard, so is finding candidates with a similar empathetic and communication capacity.


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