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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Obama Can Win Working-Class Voters

Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, has an interesting read at Bloomberg.com, “Six Ways to Keep Working-Class Voters on Obama’s Side.” Among Klain’s insights on how to win “values voters’ in the working-class:

Eschew elitism and embrace the elderly: It’s great that the president is taking his fight for women’s health-care coverage to the Barnard College commencement; it would be better if he took it to graduations at community colleges and nursing schools. Obama’s challenge in 2012 isn’t with Ivy League women (and their families), but with working-class men and women who need to know he shares their values. Likewise, the president’s relative youth and “change” message are enormously appealing to younger voters with more progressive values, but the White House cannot forget that the 2012 presidential electorate will be the oldest in history — and that these voters are the most traditionalist in perspective. The president cannot — and should not — depart from his own values, but he must constantly show respect and understanding for voters (especially older ones) who see these questions differently.
Unity with “the uniforms”: The president has an unmatched record of support for veterans, and for police officers and firefighters. Affiliation with these groups conveys a strong message to culturally and socially conservative voters about values and priorities. Every chance he gets, Obama should be seen with these critical constituencies, and align with them. The broader message he sends will be powerful.

Klain also urges the president to reacquaint voters with his compelling narrative of his humble origins in stark contrast to the GOP’s myth-mongering about his ‘elitist background.’ In addition Klain suggests Obama “make his economic case around principles” and use Vice President Biden’s cred with working-class voters. Klain also sees Romney’s front-runner status as an asset for president Obama, since Romney is the most clueless of GOP presidential candidates when it comes to class.
“Good economic news, in and of itself, doesn’t guarantee re-election,” Klain concludes. “The president and his team must keep a sharp eye on values voters, and not let these hard-working men and women slip away if the Republicans recover from their recent fiascos, and launch concerted, sophisticated efforts to win their votes on non- economic issues, as they have in the past.”

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