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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Here’s an excerpt from a worthy screed, “Trump’s Kryptonite: How Progressives Can Win Back the Working Class” by The Editors of Jacobin: “In November 2021, together with Jacobin and YouGov, the CWCP [Center for Working-Class Politics] published findings from our first original survey experiment, designed to better understand which kinds of progressive candidates, messages, and policies are most effective in appealing to working-class voters….Among other things, the survey found that voters without college degrees are strongly attracted to candidates who focus on bread-and-butter issues, use economic populist language, and promote a bold progressive policy agenda. Our findings suggested that working-class voters lost to Donald Trump could be won back by following the model set by the populist campaigns of Bernie Sanders, John Fetterman, Matt Cartwright, Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez, and others….we designed a new surveyexperiment in which we presented seven pairs of hypothetical candidates to a representative group of 1,650 voters. We assessed a vast range of candidate types (23,100 distinct candidate profiles in total) to better understand which candidates perform best overall and among different groups of voters….Our aim was to test which elements of economic populism are most effective in persuading working-class voters, how the effects of economic populist messaging change in the face of opposition messaging, and how these effects vary both across classes and within the working class….Overall, we find that progressives can make inroads with working-class voters if they run campaigns that convey a credible commitment to the interests of working people. This means running more working-class candidates, running jobs-focused campaigns, and picking a fight with political and economic elites on behalf of working Americans.”

Jacobin Editors continue, “Running on a jobs platform, including a federal jobs guarantee, can help progressive candidates. Virtually all voter groups prefer candidates who run on a jobs platform. Remarkably, respondents’ positive views toward candidates running on a jobs guarantee were consistent across Democrats, independents, and even Republicans. Candidates who ran on a jobs guarantee were also popular with black respondents, swing voters, low-propensity voters, respondents without a college degree, and rural respondents. Across the thirty-six different combinations of candidate rhetoric and policy positions we surveyed, the single most popular combination was economic populist rhetoric and a jobs guarantee….Populist “us-versus-them” rhetoric appeals to working-class voters, regardless of partisan affiliation. Working-class Democrats, independents, Republicans, women, and rural respondents all prefer candidates who use populist language: that is, sound bites that name economic or political elites as a major cause of the country’s problems and call on working Americans to oppose them….Running more non-elite, working-class candidates can help progressives attract more working-class voters. Blue- and pink-collar Democratic candidates are more popular than professional and/or upper-class candidates, particularly among working-class Democrats and Republicans. Non-elite, working-class candidates are also viewed favorably by women, Latinos, political independents, urban and rural respondents, low-propensity voters, non-college-educated respondents, and swing voters….Candidates who use class-based populist messaging are particularly popular with the blue-collar workers Democrats need to win in many “purple” states. Manual workers, a group that gave majority support to Trump in 2020, favor economic populist candidates more strongly than any other occupational group. Low-propensity voters also have a clear preference for these candidates.” The Jacobin Editors have more to say on this topic, and you can read the full report on which the editorial is based here.

At The New Republic’s ‘The Soapbox,” Alex Thomas explain how “Direct Democracy Is Upending the GOP’s Radical Agenda.” As Thomas writes, “Like the Kansas vote on abortion a year ago, the Ohio vote yielded a much higher voter turnout than Republicans had hoped for. And make no mistake: The defeat of Ohio’s Issue 1 is undoubtedly due to that large turnout. However, there’s little evidence to show that ballot measures drive turnout in general elections. In the upcoming general election—which seems destined for a rematch between Biden and Trump—experts generally agree that ballot measures’ effect on turnout will be difficult to quantify as the top of the ticket offers such a divisive matchup….But that doesn’t negate the importance of ballot issues or their effect on the political landscape. Professor Daniel Smith of the University of Florida told me that ballot measures “have these spillover effects; it could be not only turnout but increasing political knowledge and civic engagement. Increasing political participation more generally because citizens are now being asked to exercise their voice.”….On Tuesday, Ohioans turned out in droves to exercise their voices and to retain their ability to exercise their voices. The early voting figures alone tell a story—at least 578,490 Ohioans turned in early ballots for the Issue 1 vote. Only 288,700 Ohioans voted early in the 2022 election, according to The Columbus Dispatch. But while the effort to limit direct democracy was defeated in Ohio, there’s no indication that Republicans are likely to slow their efforts to silence the will of their constituents….Of course, the political landscape of America is much different than it was at the turn of the century. Voters are more engaged. The 2020 election featured the second-highest percentage of voter participation in American history. And in post-RoeAmerica, there’s no indication that voters are more likely to stay home—even if Republicans in Ohio, and other state legislatures around the country, dearly wish that they would.”

Excerpts from “Democrats Really Need to Win Back Young White Male Voters From the GOP” by Ameshia Cross at The Daily Beast: “It’s commonly known that younger voters lean more liberal, which is a major part of why Democrats make stronger appeals to get young people to the polls when compared with Republicans. But one large group of younger voters currently tilts in the opposite direction—18-year-old white males….Twelfth-grade boys are nearly twice as likely to identify as conservativeversus identifying as liberal, according to a survey by Monitoring the Future….This is a big deal. In the latter term of the George W. Bush presidency and into the early days of Barack Obama’s time in the White House, liberal boys outnumbered conservatives. Those days might be long gone. Conversely, more young women continue to identify as liberal. Teen girls have doubled their support for Democrats in the decade between 2012 and 2022….But why are 18 year-old boys leaning more conservative, and what about the age of Trump appeals to them? Part of the answer is an embrace of toxic masculinity ….Though the Fox News juggernaut—and lesser-watched conservative counterparts like The Blaze, Newsmax, and OAN—are predominately viewed by an older generation of white male conservatives, their talking points are regurgitated on new media that’s more likely to be seen by younger people….With thin margins of victory in races from the presidency to city councils, even slight changes in voter attitudes are worth a second look. Democrats need to find a message to these voters that the toxic masculinity of Trump and the MAGA movement is not the way forward for this country, and that they are not victims of modernity….Democrats cannot simply hope that as the older Fox News-viewing population dies off that their politics will go with them. The newfound growth in conservative identification among young white males shows that the battle for justice, equality, and a sustainable future is far from over.”

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