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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Some Trump Voters Bail on Him Due to the Shutdown

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

That would perhaps be a better headline than the Post headline on the web which says: “Trump voters now blame him for the government shutdown“. That sounds like all of them and of course that’s not true. But the fact that outlets like the Post are starting to run stories not about how Trump voters are still rock solid for their man but rather about how some of them are getting fed up is a good thing.

The article while anecdotal is still worth reading, especially since it’s written from Macomb County in Michigan, a storied locus of white working class discontent with the Democrats going back decades. As the article notes, while Trump carried the county by 12 points in 2016, Democratic Senate and governor candidates carried the county in 2018. Perhaps something is going on there and, by extension, in other similar areas in the Midwest.

The article also correctly points out that Democrats would be unwise to simply count on fed up-ness with Trump to close the deal with wavering Trump voters, especially when it comes to the immigration issue.

“The 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest is expected to include a heavy dose of debate over how to balance attempts to win back white working-class voters — those who live here as well as in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which Trump also won — with the energy around ascendant women and minorities.

Those attempts will also draw into question whether Democrats can find a way to articulate an immigration plan in areas like this, where the issue resonates. Trump’s insistence on building a border wall has hardened Democrats, whose most prominent policy now is to stop the wall. They rarely tout their own views on border security, but that issue remains important to many voters in industrial states….

“People do want immigration managed,” said Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who has been studying Macomb County voters since the 1980s. “Trump makes it hard because he’s so outrageous. You don’t want to give him an inch. But immigration is still an important issue, and Democrats will have to speak to it.”

A similar point is made by Francis Wilkinson in a recent Bloomberg piece. You might summarize his article as saying “Democrats won’t always have the Wall to kick around” Wilkinson points out:

“[W]hen the shutdown, and the symbolic skirmish behind it, ends, the immigration debate will not. And it’s unclear how much progress Democrats will have made persuading distracted voters to embrace a realistic and humane alternative to Trump’s fantasy and aggression….

[W]ill Americans who have been encouraged to imagine an impregnable curtain of steel be better able to imagine the legal and topographical fiascos that would ensue from trying to build it? Or the handmade wooden ladder that would be used to vault over it? What about a comprehensive alternative that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented and tighter controls on borders and employment?

There’s no way to make progress on such arguments if the Democratic line is simply that the wall is, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, ‘immoral.'”

Exactly. Time for the Democrats to get to it if they really want to win back wavering Trump voters in 2020.

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