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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Teixeira: Hispanic and Working Class Voters in the 2022 Election

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

We don’t yet have final results in the 2022 election but it is fair to say Democrats convincingly beat expectations and “fundamentals” (a midterm election, Biden’s low approval, high inflation, voter negativity on the economy and the state of the country) with their performance. Republicans will likely still flip the House but only by a surprisingly thin margin and the Senate could well remain controlled (just barely) by the Democrats, pending final results of the Nevada race and a Georgia runoff.

Putting this uncertainty to the side, the basic reason for the Democrats’ relative success is clear. A combination of the Dobbs decision and Trump’s interventions into nominating contests produced a slew of Republican candidates who could be successfully portrayed as extreme by moderate Democratic candidates, allowing them to escape the drag of the national party’s image and the negative national environment.

A finding from a pre-election survey by Third Way/Impact Research encapsulates this dynamic nicely. The survey found that about equal numbers of voters found the Republican and Democratic parties “too extreme” (54 percent vs. 55 percent), but that the story in this election was quite different when it comes to candidates.

Voters…perceive the current slate of Republican candidates to be more extreme; when asked which party has nominated more extreme candidates, voters choose Republicans by a seven-point margin (44%-37%). Among swing voters, that margin was twenty points (36%-16%). Conversely, when asked which party has nominated the most moderate candidates for Congress this cycle, 34% chose Democrats while 25% chose Republicans.

With this in mind, it’s interesting and important to ask how different voter groups responded to this situation. In particular, did the Democrats’ relative success signal a turnaround in their difficulties with Hispanic and working class voters? I don’t believe so. Here are some data from the AP-NORC VoteCast survey (far superior to the exit polls in my opinion) that cast doubt on the idea that Democrats’ problems with these groups have been solved—or even substantially mitigated.

1. Nationally, Hispanic support for Democratic candidates declined substantially, falling to just a 16 point advantage from 29 points in 2020 and 34 points in 2018. That’s an 18 point decline in Democratic margin across the two cycles. Moreover, the 40 percent of the Hispanic vote that Republican house candidates received in this election is a level of support among this demographic Republicans have not enjoyed since the days of George W. Bush.

2. Education polarization increased strongly across the two cycles. In 2018, Democrats actually carried working class (noncollege) voters as a whole by 4 points, while carrying college voters by 14 points, for a 10 point difference. In 2022, the Democrats lost working class voters by 13 points, while still carrying college voters by 7 points, a 20 point differential.

3. Looking at working class voters by race (white and nonwhite), there is an impressively large decline in the Democrats’ margin among nonwhite working class voters between 2018 and 2022. In 2018, Democrats carried this group by 57 points. By 2022, that margin was down to 34 points, a stunning 23 point decline.

4. This was even larger than the fall among white working class voters where the Democrats’ deficit ballooned from 20 points in 2018 to 35 points in 2022.

5. The demographic where Democratic support held up the best was among white college voters, perhaps not surprising given the campaign they chose to run. Their margin among this group fell a mere 6 points between their very good 2018 election and 2022. This pattern is consistent with the sort of suburban seats where Democrats managed to stave off Republican challenges this year.

All told, these data do not suggest Democrats’ Hispanic and working class voter problems are now in their rear view mirror. Not even close. And consider they are staring down the barrel of a very unfavorable Senate map in 2024, where Democrats will be defending 23 of the 33 seats in play. Holding those Democratic seats will mean winning in a raft of red and purple states like Arizona (again), Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada (again), Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and (gulp) West Virginia. That’s a daunting task and, oh, the Democrats will also probably need to win back the House. More attrition among working class and Hispanic voters could be fatal to these aspirations. Relying on white college voters to somehow insulate Democrats from this weakness would be a slender reed indeed in such circumstances.

And then there’s what we might call the Democrats’ Ron DeSantis problem. There’s no guarantee Trump will be the GOP’s candidate in 2024, despite the Democrats’ evident wish for it to be so. In the wake of Republicans’ underperformance in 2022, much of it attributable to Trump and his influence, voices are growing louder in the party for an alternative. Blake Hounshell of the New York Times reported:

Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush during his presidency, called the outcome “a searing indictment of the Republican Party” that demanded “a really deep introspection look in the mirror.”

When Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, was asked for his reaction to the election results, he said, “I don’t deal in feelings.” But Scott Jennings, one of his former deputies, tweeted what many assume McConnell thinks: “How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024?”….

The National Review’s Jim Geraghty, in a blistering article headlined “The Red Splish-Splash,” called DeSantis “far and away the strongest candidate” and complained that Republican voters had “nominated clowns” in many races.

“Americans are tired of the circus, the freak show, the in-your-face, all-controversy-is-good, Trump-influenced wannabes,” Geraghty concluded.

Well then. Of course, there’s no guarantee that a groundswell against Trump would succeed in getting rid of him. But for the sake of a healthy democracy, shouldn’t we all be rooting for that—for Trump not to be the nominee? Hoping that he’s the nominee because he’d be relatively easy to beat, as many Democrats secretly (or not so secretly) do, is really rather appalling given the stakes.

Then indeed you might have to beat a candidate like DeSantis. That would not be easy given the Democrats’ current weaknesses. In DeSantis’ crushing victory over Democrat Charlie Crist, he actually carried Hispanics in the state by 13 points and working class voters overall by 27 points (!) A DeSantis ticket, accompanied by saner, more competent Senate and House candidates, would be quite a challenge for today’s Democrats.

That suggests that Democrats should take the task seriously of becoming America’s normie voter party and expanding the ranks of its working class supporters. If not—and Biden, cheered on by the left of the party, has announced he will do “nothing” differently going forward—it could be a very long decade.

Dem Gains in State Legislatures Brighten Party’s Future

From “Democrats make big gains in state legislatures after beating expectations” by Phil McCausland at nbc.com:

National Democrats were fairly happy on Election Day as they dodged a predicted trouncing at the polls, but state Democrats might have even more to celebrate.

As with Congress, the president’s party typically faces a shellacking in state legislatures in the cycle after his election and few expected 2022 to be different, as Democrats prepared to lose ground across the country and fought to keep the few majorities they had.

But Democrats had a much better night on the state level than expected. With votes still being counted across the country, the party has flipped the Michigan state Senate away from Republican control, according to The New York Times, citing AP data. And Democrats appear on track to flip the state House in Michigan, as well as in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the nonpartisan organization that represents legislative chambers.

Democrats are also competitive in races to flip the legislative chambers in Arizona and New Hampshire, the NCSL said.

Republicans, meanwhile, consolidated power by creating supermajorities in both Florida legislative chambers as well as the North Carolina Senate, Wisconsin Senate, Iowa Senate and South Carolina House. They have not flipped any chambers as of yet.

Pennsylvania Democrats were already celebrating their wins in the state assembly, anticipating that they’ll take control for the first time since 2010. If Democrats do flip the Michigan House as well as the Senate, they’ll have full partisan control of the state for the first time in nearly 40 years following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election this week.

McCausland adds, “Changes in legislative control could also have an impact on future elections….Democrats in Pennsylvania were already gearing up to head off similar challenges that they said threatened democracy, while in Michigan, Democrats were pulling together a long list of policy priorities they haven’t addressed in four decades….“This is clearly turning out to be a very, very good election for the Democrats, and it could get even better,” noted Ben Williams, program principal of elections and redistricting for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Political Strategy Notes

From the early days of the feminist awakening of the 1970s on down to Monday, the expression “sisterhood is powerful” seemed more of an unfulfilled ideal than a prophesy realized. No more. Although we don’t have solid data yet showing the impact of women voters on midterms outcomes, a top priority of the women’s rights agenda got a huge boost on Tuesday. As Amelia Thomson-Deveaux writes at FiveThirtyEight: “Results are still pending in some key states like Arizona, but Democrats won many contests that will shape abortion access for the next few years — and in some cases, much longer. Abortion-rights supporters managed to enshrine the right to abortion in three state constitutions, including the crucial state of Michigan, where a near-total ban on abortion from 1931 has been tangled up in court battles for months. And supporters notched another consequential win in Kentucky, where a majority of the state’s voters opposed a ballot measure that would have explicitly clarified that abortion rights was not protected under the state constitution….These are significant victories for Democrats and abortion-rights supporters, particularly as Democrats faced significant headwinds on other topics important to Americans. That success almost certainly means abortion will remain a defining political issue as the 2024 presidential race looms on the horizon. There will be plenty of opportunities for Democrats to push their message: Abortion-rights activists now have momentum to push for ballot measures like the one that passed in Michigan, perhaps in states with active or pending bans like Ohio, Oklahoma and Missouri. And candidates may see this week’s results as evidence they need to talk more about abortion than they may have otherwise.”

Thomson-Deveaux adds that, “the unpopularity of the Supreme Court’s decision isn’t just registering in polls – it’s also reshaping the country’s political landscape…abortion did make it to the ballot in five states – Michigan, Vermont, California, Kentucky and Montana – and although we don’t have final results everywhere, abortion-rights supporters appear poised to sweep the board.” However, Thomson-Deveaux notes that “turning the general air of displeasure about extreme abortion bans into electoral victories could be tricky for Democrats in red states like Kentucky. Many anti-abortion candidates were also elected in races across the country last night, too — so simply prioritizing abortion doesn’t necessarily translate into support for Democrats.” Yet, “In key purple states, though, abortion rights seem to have lifted Democratic candidates, and although some races are still outstanding, Democrats have already won most of the state-level races that will shape abortion access going forward. In Pennsylvania, where Republican legislators were making noises about stricter abortion bans, Democrat Josh Shapiro won the governor’s race handily, defeating an opponent who was one of the most ardent anti-abortion advocates in the statehouse….We’ll keep looking into how abortion shaped the results of the midterms in the coming days. But for now, it’s clear that the Dobbs decision did turn abortion into one of the most salient issues in the country — which means you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it as the 2024 presidential campaign creaks into gear.”

Nate Silver explains why “Candidate Quality Mattered,” also at FiveThirtyEight: “For one thing, just look at the large difference between Senate and gubernatorial results in states with both types of races on the ballot. In the nine states with battleground1 Senate races in states that also had a gubernatorial race on the ballot, there were significant discrepancies between the performance of the candidates. We could wind up with as many as five of the nine states where one party wins the governorship and the other wins the Senate race. It’s already happened in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. It could happen in Nevada and Arizona depending how the remaining vote comes in. And it will also happen in Georgia if Democrat Raphael Warnock wins the Dec. 6 runoff after Republican Brian Kemp comfortably won the gubernatorial race….And even in states where there weren’t split-ticket winners, there were still big gaps in candidate performance. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, won reelection by nearly 26 percentage points at the same time the GOP Senate candidate, J.D. Vance, won by just 6.2 In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman did well enough in the U.S. Senate race against Mehmet Oz, but Josh Shapiro nonetheless won by a much larger margin against Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial contest….In the 2018 midterms, the results in a number of major Senate races also significantly diverged from the partisan lean of the state. Republicans nominated a series of inexperienced Senate candidates, and such candidates tend to underperform statewide benchmarks.” It appears primary meddling was an effective way for Democratic political campaigns to reduce candidate quality of Republicans in the midterms.

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares his early take on the midterm elections, arguing that “Republicans failed to put forward anything that could be considered a governing agenda….The consensus seemed to be that the GOP had run a very disciplined campaign focused on inflation and crime, with attacks on Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) layered in to fertilize discontent….It didn’t work, partly because Republicans offered nothing in the way of solutions to the problems they were bemoaning. They also fudged what was supposed to be an issue of high principle, fleeing in horror from the abortion question once they realized how much anger a right-wing Supreme Court had inspired by overturning Roe v. Wade….Their evasion didn’t help them. Exit polls showed that three-quarters of voters who cast ballots on abortion backed Democrats. And the GOP’s inability to specify what the party might do with power undercut Republicans on the issues that were supposed to be their salvation….It’s probably too much to hope that Democratic success will tamp down warfare between the party’s progressive and centrist wings. But both sides would do well to acknowledge a core fact of political life: Democrats win only when they can unite the left and the center. Democrats needed the turnout and the 88 percent vote share they won from the slightly more than a quarter of the electorate that described itself as liberal. But they also needed the 54 percent they won among the one-third of voters who said they were moderate….For all the good news for Democrats, the fact remains that the outcome of this election is up in the air. Many House seats and the decisive Senate seats remain undecided. Republicans could yet emerge with very narrow control of the House and possibly the Senate. A Republican Congress would make governing hell over the next two years….But even if it does gain a share of power, the GOP will have to reckon with how its fealty to Trump and trafficking with extremists is lethal, and how voters demand more from their politicians than rage. After six years of bowing, scraping and blustering, you wonder whether Republicans have any capacity for introspection left in them.”

Teixeira: Dems’ Long Goodbye to the Working Class

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

As we move into the endgame of the 2022 election, the Democrats face a familiar problem. America’s historical party of the working class keeps losing working-class support. And not just among white voters. Not only has the emerging Democratic majority I once predicted failed to materialize, but many of the nonwhite voters who were supposed to deliver it are instead voting for Republicans.

This year, Democrats have chosen to run a campaign focused on three things: abortion rights, gun control, and safeguarding democracy—issues with strong appeal to socially liberal, college-educated voters. But these issues have much less appeal to working-class voters. They are instead focused on the economy, inflation, and crime, and they are skeptical of the Democratic Party’s performance in all three realms.

This inattentiveness to working-class concerns is not peculiar to the present election. The roots of the Democrats’ struggles go back at least as far as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, and, as important, to the way in which many Democrats chose to interpret her defeat. Those mistakes, compounded over subsequent election cycles and amplified by vocal activists, now threaten to deliver another stinging disappointment for the Democratic Party. But until Democrats are prepared to grapple honestly with the sources of their electoral struggles, that streak is unlikely to end.

From 2012 to 2020, the Democrats not only saw their support among white working-class voters—those without college degrees—crater, they also saw their advantage among nonwhite working-class voters fall by 18 points. And between 2016 and 2020 alone, the Democratic advantage among Hispanic voters declined by 16 points, overwhelmingly driven by the defection of working-class voters. In contrast, Democrats’ advantage among white college-educated voters improved by 16 points from 2012 to 2020, an edge that delivered Joe Biden the White House

Polling points to a continuation of these trends in 2022. Democrats are losing voters without college degrees while running up the score among college-educated voters. In the latest national New York Times/Siena poll, Democrats have a 15-point deficit among working-class voters but a 14-point advantage among college-educated voters. (The American Enterprise Institute’s demographic-group tracker averages poll results and confirms this yawning gap in Democratic support.)

In part, this results from further deterioration of Democratic support among white working-class voters. But nonwhite working-class voters—especially Hispanic voters—may be following suit. Democrats carried Hispanic voters by 35 points in 2018 and 25 points in 2020. Available data and reporting strongly suggest that this further decline is being driven by working-class voters, the overwhelming majority of this demographic.

In a proximate sense, it’s not hard to see how this might be happening, given America’s economic situation and Democrats’ campaigning choices. But these struggles tie back to the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton’s campaign made two fateful decisions that decisively undercut her ability to beat Donald Trump. During the primaries, facing a stiffer-than-expected challenge from Bernie Sanders, Clinton elected to counter his class-oriented populist economics by flanking him to the left on identity-politics issues. This built on the party’s attribution of Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 to mobilizing the “rising American electorate,” which ignored his relatively strong performance among working-class voters in the Midwest. For Clinton, turning to identity politics was a way of making Sanders seem out of touch.

After Sanders unexpectedly came close to tying Clinton in the Iowa caucus, she went on the offensive, seeking to characterize Sanders’s class-oriented pitch as racist and sexist. As NBC News reported at the time:

“Not everything is about an economic theory, right?” Clinton said, kicking off a long, interactive riff with the crowd at a union hall this afternoon.

“If we broke up the big banks tomorrow—and I will if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will—would that end racism?”

“No!” the audience yelled back.

Clinton continued to list scenarios, asking: ​“Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?”

She continued that line of attack until the moment she secured the nomination. And once that was accomplished and her campaign launched in earnest, she made her second fateful decision, choosing to concentrate on Trump’s character and all the ways he was out of step with the rising American electorate. Studies of her campaign-ad spending reveal that the overwhelming majority of these ads had nothing to say about policy or even policy orientation, instead attacking Trump’s character and his many divisive and offensive statements. Her campaign slogan, “Stronger together,” was an implicit rebuke of Trump on these grounds.

Teixeira: Tough Love for Democrats

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

Charlie Sykes wrote up some of our conversation on the Bulwark podcase. Nice job by Charlie.

“To even get in the door with many working class and rural voters and make their pitch,” writes Ruy Teixeira, “Democrats need to convince these voters that they are not looked down on, their concerns are taken seriously, and their views on culturally-freighted issues will not be summarily dismissed as unenlightened. With today’s Democratic party, unfortunately, that is difficult. Resistance is stiff to any compromise that might involve moving to the center on such issues.”

Resistance? You don’t know the half of it.

ICYMI: Ruy, who has spent decades as a progressive analyst, joined me on Wednesday’s podcast to talk about his recent articles about the Democrats’ challenges on crime, culture, immigration, economics, and patriotism.

Democrats Must Move to the Center on Cultural Issues

Democrats Must Promote an Abundance Agenda

It’s great stuff, and it’s very much worth your time. (And also quite timely given today’s headlines: Democrats Worry as G.O.P. Attack Ads Take a Toll in Wisconsin.” And: “In key battlegrounds, GOP onslaught of crime ads tightens Senate races.”)

You can listen to our whole conversation here . . . or, if you are a Bulwark+ member, you can listen to the ad-free version here.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is in the mood for this kind of tough love right now. Here’s a comment from one Bulwark+ listener:

We are where we are now – it’s a month til the midterms. So:


2. Make the best of the situation with the candidates we have to defeat the lunatic GOP slate and save our democracy from these racist ass terrorists.

As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I’m afraid there will not be any shutting up anytime soon.

Some clarification also seems to be in order: It’s not our role to be cheerleaders or flacks; others can do that. Our job is to tell you the truth and give our best analysis, especially if we think we might be sailing at flank speed into an iceberg. With all due respect, if you want a safe space, or a rah-rah for our side site, you really ought to look elsewhere.

And here’s the thing about Ruy’s tough love: he’s saying these things because, unlike too many of his fellow Democrats, he actually does think we face an existential crisis . . . and he is trying to explain how not to lose to what our listener calls “these racist ass terrorists.”

That’s what makes Ruy’s warnings so important — and urgent. If you haven’t read his stuff, his latest piece is a good place to start. His advice: “Embrace patriotism and don’t apologize for it.”

That’s the creed of ordinary Americans even if many activist Democrats reject it. Illustrating this, a survey project by the More in Common group was able to separate out a group they termed “progressive activists” who were 8 percent of the population (but punch far above their weight in the Democratic party) and are described as “deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America’s direction today. They tend to be more secular, cosmopolitan, and highly engaged with social media”.

These progressive activists’ attitude toward their own country departs greatly from not just that of average Americans but from pretty much any other group you might care to name, including average nonwhite Americans. Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans, in fact, are highly likely to be proud to be Americans and highly likely to say they would still choose to live in America if they could choose to live anywhere in the world. In contrast, progressive activists are loathe to express these sentiments. For example, just 34 percent of progressive activists say they are “proud to be American” compared to 62 percent of Asians, 70 percent of blacks, and 76 percent of Hispanics.

Here’s some more tough love from Ruy:

Exit take: The tough love will continue until morale improves.

‘A Memo to Democrats’ by Democratic Strategists

Democratic strategists Patrick Gaspard, Sanley B. Greenberg, Celinda Lake and Mike Lux have co-written “A Memo to Democrats,” cross-posted here from The American Prospect:

The four of us have been around politics a long time. We have been a part of some of the Democratic Party’s biggest victories; we have seen some big losses. In the 2022 election, things are as close as we have ever seen them. But we are right on the edge of overcoming historical trends and other factors weighing us down, and winning a decisive victory.

What we have to do, though, is end on a strong economic argument. Democrats need to understand that we have a winning message on the economy and inflation. But rising costs will beat us if we avoid the issue.

Don’t get us wrong: we are all firmly convinced of the power and central importance of abortion. The Dobbs decision changed the trajectory of this election, and it is the most powerful issue we have in turning out Democratic base voters. No Democratic candidate should stop talking about abortion. But going down the stretch, we need to make sure our closing message also talks about the cost of living, inflation and the economy.

Even before the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act, when Joe Biden’s approval ratings were still in the 30s, what was striking in the focus groups we were watching was that people were not blaming Biden for inflation. They certainly wanted him to do something about rising prices and to be in touch with their lives, but their primary ire was directed at big corporations that have moved jobs overseas and created supply chain issues; and at the near-monopoly power these wealthy corporations have over prices, allowing them to price-gouge consumers.

Voters want politicians to solve these problems. Inflation and the cost of living is their number one concern right now, and they are thinking and talking about it all the time in part because they believe it is getting worse with no end in sight. They understand that the problems are complicated and tough to solve, but if they don’t think the Democrats are prioritizing their everyday costs, they will be put off. They want to know you understand what is going on in their lives. They want to know you are helping with their number one problem and have a plan.

They want to know the difference between Democrats and Republicans when they cast their votes.

If voters never hear ads from candidates mentioning rising costs; if the mail they receive never mentions it; if they only hear it touched on in stump speeches; if the answers to the inflation question in debates are mushy; voters are going to decide those Democratic candidates are not prioritizing the issue they are most focused on.

And our research shows that it’s important for voters to know that you are in touch with what they are facing economically, especially Gen Z and millennials, Blacks and Latinos, and blue-collar women, all of whom are the key swing voters in this campaign.

There is not a reason in the world Democrats need to be defensive or mushy about their plan for inflation. The American Rescue Plan included the enhanced Child Tax Credit, tax relief for poor, working and middle-class families. The Inflation Reduction Act will bring prices down for pharmaceutical drugs, health insurance premiums, and energy prices. The House passed an anti-price gouging bill that all Republicans voted against. A populist message on the issue has been tested repeatedly and it works.

That Republicans voted against or stopped many of these measures is a key reason to highlight the difference of what happens when you elect Democrats or Republicans. The GOP has also announced that they would reinstate the Trump tax cuts on the wealthy and wealthy corporations.

Rather than dwelling on Republicans stopping these measures, we should embrace those popular answers as key to the choice in the election.

Democrats defeated special interests— including big oil companies and big pharmaceutical companies—to make these happen. So, here’s the choice in the battle over the cost of living: Democrats fighting special interests to help working people with these high costs, or Republicans simply helping their big corporate donors.

This is time for a powerful close that shows Democrats embracing these messages:

1. Wealthy corporations with monopoly power are jacking up their prices, and their profits are going through the roof. Big oil, food, shipping, health care, and real estate companies have been making record profits over the last two years. I will crack down on price gouging, but to be clear: My opponent takes the opposite position.

2. I will fight hard to bring down health care costs, especially for prescription drugs.  Because we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats took a good first step. Pharma is going to have to negotiate with Medicare on prescription drug prices for the first time. it’s about time, and Medicare premiums as well as drug costs will be going down as a result. I want to do even more to lower costs, but the Republicans want to repeal negotiating prescription drug prices, the price caps on insulin, the lower health insurance premiums, and the cap on seniors’ out of pocket drug costs—all while having no plan of their own. Seniors will be getting the biggest increase in their Social Security payments in 40 years, which will help them cope with inflation, but Republicans are talking about ending Social Security.

3. I will fight for the Child Tax Credit, which will give parents up to $600 a month to help with groceries, gas, and housing. And I’m going to pay for it by taxing wealthy corporations and millionaires who are paying little or nothing in taxes right now. My opponent is against the Child Tax Credit and wants to give structural tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.

These three points make up a compelling, highly persuasive set of policies that help with the cost of living. Here’s what an ad might look like:

“The cost of living is hitting working families and senior citizens hard. They haven’t seen a pay raise in years, and now this obscene rise in global prices.  Elect me because my top priority will be tackling rising prices. We should crack down hard on corporate price gouging and start making things in America again, so that we have fewer supply chain problems. We should also help people cope with rising prices. Under the Biden administration, Social Security’s cost of living increase was the biggest in 40 years, and Medicare premiums went down for the first time in a long time. The Inflation Reduction Act lowers drug prices by forcing Big Pharma to negotiate with Medicare, but we need to build on that to keep health care costs declining. Republicans will undo all that if they regain power. For parents, we should bring back the expanded Child Tax Credit, which gives parents up to $600 a month to help with housing, groceries, and gas prices, paid for by finally making wealthy corporations pay what they owe.

“I will fight for you and your family, not just to survive, but for the freedom of every family to thrive. Because every American deserves a shot at the Dream.”

Yes, Democrats, also keep talking about the fundamental threat to the right to an abortion. That remains a priority we must deliver too. It’s really important in turning out the Democratic vote and persuading swing Independent and Republican women to vote for us.  But your path to victory is to also make sure voters know you will prioritize fighting rising costs and for an economy that works for working families.”

The American Prospect provides an audio version of the article. Author bio notes:

Patrick Gaspard is the president and chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress.

Stanley B. Greenberg, a founding partner of Greenberg Research, Democracy Corps, and Climate Policy & Strategy, and Prospect board member, is a New York Times best-selling author and co-author of It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!

Celinda Lake, the president of Lake Research Partners, is a pollster and political strategist for Democrats and progressives.

Mike Lux, a senior staffer in the Clinton White House and a senior adviser to the DNC chair, has worked on seven presidential campaigns, and authored two books.


Teixeira: Democrats’ Working Class Problem Intensifies

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

These are hard times for America’s historic party of the working class—as in, they keep on bleeding support among these voters. The just-released New York Times/Siena poll provides the latest evidence for this trend. Among likely voters, Democrats’ generic Congressional ballot support among college-educated and working class (noncollege) voters are mirror images of each other. Democrats have a 15 point deficit among working class voters but a 14 point advantage among college voters—almost a 30 point gap. (The AEI demographic group tracker averages poll results and confirms an unusually large working class-college gap.)

The Times/Siena poll also asked a 2024 trial heat question pitting Biden against Trump. This showed the same pattern: college-educated voters favored Biden by 20 points, while working voters preferred Trump by 16 points. Keep in mind that working class voters are likely to far outnumber college voters in that election just as they did in 2020 and as they are likely to do this November.

Putting these results in context is instructive. In the 2012 election, the working class-college gap was a mere 4 points; Obama carried college-educated voters by 6 points, but also carried working class voters by 2 points. By 2020, Democrats were losing working class voters by 4 points and the gap had widened to 22 points. Lest anyone think that declining working class support was solely due to white working class voters moving away from the Democrats, it should be noted that nonwhite working class voters moved away from Democrats by 19 margin points over the time period.

However, it is true that the education gap is exceptionally large among whites. In the Times/Siena data, Democrats are losing white working class voters by 32 points while carrying white college voters by 7 points. And these white working class voters still loom very, very large in most states, including ones with key contests in November’s election. Echelon Insights, which anticipates another high turnout election, has released estimates of the demographic composition of voters this November. They expect that voters nationally will be 41 percent white noncollege and higher still in states like Wisconsin (56 percent), Ohio (53 percent), Pennsylvania (49 percent) and even Nevada (46 percent).

Echelon comments, correctly I think, on the implications of their turnout and voter composition analysis:

Which party will benefit from higher turnout or a more diverse electorate? The answer might surprise you. In the 2020 election, high turnout led to a surprisingly close election with a surge in support for Donald Trump among low-propensity Hispanic voters in particular. Rising turnout is being driven by a working class, non-college electorate that Republicans have been doing better with in recent elections, as well as an aging electorate, creating more high-turnout voters over the age of 65. When it comes to the conventional wisdom about high versus low voter turnout, all bets are off.

It is not hard to see what might be driving the current working class drift toward the Republicans. First, there is the economy. The recent upturn in inflation, still near a 40 year high, is squeezing already-squeezed working class budgets. It cannot be emphasized enough that in the last year real wages for workers have actually gone down because wage increases have not kept pace with inflation.

Not surprisingly, the economy and the cost of living are by far the top issues for working class voters. In the Times/Siena poll, 49 percent cited these issues, compared to 37 percent among college-educated voters. The closest other issue among working class voters was immigration at 7 percent.

But Democrats haven’t run a campaign aimed at these working class concerns. As a recent headline put it in the New York Times, “Democrats Spent $2 Trillion to Save the Economy. They Don’t Want to Talk About It.” Instead, they have elected to run a campaign focused on three things: abortion rights, gun control and safeguarding democracy. This appeared to be a strategy aimed at socially liberal, college-educated voters among whom these issues are highly salient. No doubt this has helped shore up their support among these voters and contributed to Democrats’ maintaining strong margins among the college-educated. But among working class voters, whose concerns are more mundane and economically-driven, these issues are far less salient.

It seems unlikely that the Democrats’ approach will work any better as we get closer to the election. Abortion rights, which has by far been the dominant issue in Democratic ad spending, may have reached the limits of its effectiveness. Many Republican candidates are softening their abortion positions and avoiding association with outright bans, which may help explain the apparent movement of independent womenback toward the GOP.

As for gun control, it is clearly being overshadowed by the crime issue where the Democrats are hugely vulnerable and Republicans have released a barrage of campaign advertising. In the just-released Politico/Morning Consult poll, more voters say crimewill be a major factor in their voting decision than say the same about abortion.

As for safeguarding democracy, which for Democrats means an unrelenting focus on Trump, the “Big Lie” and the January 6th hearings, this just has much less juice than Democrats like to think it does. Indeed when normie voters think about threats to democracy, they are just not thinking about it in the same way that Democrats do. As Nate Cohn notes in his analysis of the recent Times/Siena poll:

While 71 percent of registered voters agreed that democracy was “under threat,” only about 17 percent of voters described the threat in a way that squares with discussion in mainstream media and among experts — with a focus on Republicans, Donald J. Trump, political violence, election denial, authoritarianism, and so on.

Instead, most people described the threat to democracy in terms that would be very unfamiliar to someone concerned about election subversion or the Jan. 6 insurrection… When respondents were asked to volunteer one or two words to summarize the current threat to democracy, government corruption was brought up most often — more than Mr. Trump and Republicans combined….Instead, they point most frequently to a longstanding concern about the basic functioning of a democratic system: whether government works on behalf of the people.

That certainly sums up the overriding priority of working class voters: a government that works on behalf of the people. No amount of talk about abortion, gun control and January 6th is likely to convince them that Democrats are providing that when their “lived experience”, as it were, is quite different.

Kuttner: How Dems Can Talk About Inflation

The following article, “Can Democrats Talk About Inflation? Today on TAP: They’d better learn how. They won’t win the midterms just on reproductive rights” by Robert Kuttner, author of  “Going Big: FDR’s Legacy, Biden’s New Deal, and the Struggle to Save Democracy,” is cross-posted from The American Prospect:

How to talk about the economy when inflation remains stubbornly above 8 percent, and workers’ wages are rising at less than half that? The latest New York Times/Siena poll shows Republicans gaining ground based on increasing voter concerns about the economy, which is now the top issue for 44 percent of voters, up from 36 percent in July.

There is a fascinating and nuanced conversation on this subject among some of the smartest Democratic strategists. Pollster and strategist Stan Greenberg has argued at this site that even though Biden has lots to be proud of, it’s a strategic mistake to brag about how good the economy is at a time when so many voters are not feeling so good. Better to point out all the ways that Republicans and corporate elites have sandbagged ordinary people, and what Democrats could do if they had a working majority.

Celinda Lake, once a partner in Greenberg’s polling firm, contends that there are nonetheless a few things worth bragging about, such as the benefits to ordinary families contained in Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, notably the Child Tax Credit. This is broadly consistent with Greenberg’s view.

Meanwhile, Democratic strategist Mike Lux has circulated an important memo warning that Democrats can’t duck talking about inflation at a time when Republicans are using it as a campaign cudgel. It’s a point Greenberg has also made at the Prospect site when he wrote:

The NBC poll tests the message that Democrats are actually saying, and it starts with their advocacy for working people on the cost of living: “we need to keep delivering for working Americans by lowering costs, including health care and prescription drugs, and ensuring the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.” That message gives the Democrats a 7-point advantage compared to the Republican message.

Lux, urging Democrats to explicitly address inflation, adds that the five most important points for Democrats to make are these:

1. Wealthy corporations with monopoly power are jacking up their prices, and their profits are going through the roof.

2. Drug prices and health insurance premiums are going to go down because of the Inflation Reduction Act … Republicans have no plan of their own.

3. Seniors will be getting the biggest increase in their Social Security payments in 40 years … Republicans are talking about ending Social Security.

4. Manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States … and our infrastructure is being rebuilt. All of this will end our supply chain problems and create millions more good jobs.

5. I will fight for the Child Tax Credit, which will give parents up to $600 a month to help with groceries, gas, and housing. And I’m going to pay for it by taxing wealthy corporations and millionaires who are paying little or nothing in taxes right now. My opponent is against the Child Tax Credit.

Democrats should have plenty to say about inflation, connecting it to broader economic themes. By all means, let’s talk about Republicans’ appalling actions destroying reproductive rights and health—but don’t expect that to win the election alone.

Teixeira: A Three-Point Fix for the Democratic Coalition

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

The Republican Party, according to Democrats, has given rein to some of the darker impulses in the national psyche, has shown flagrant disregard for democratic norms and offers little to the American people in terms of effective policy. There is considerable truth to this indictment and Democrats have not been shy about making their case in uninhibited language (“semi-fascist”, “ultra-MAGA”, etc.)

Yet Democrats cannot decisively beat their opponents as this election seems likely to show once again. The party is uncompetitive among white working class voters and among voters in exurban, small town and rural America. This puts them  at a massive structural disadvantage given an American electoral system that gives disproportionate weight to these voters, especially in Senate and Presidential elections. To add to the problem, Democrats are now hemorrhaging nonwhite working class voters in many areas of country.

The facts must be faced. The Democratic coalition today is not fit for purpose. It cannot beat Republicans consistently in enough areas of the country to achieve dominance and implement its agenda at scale. The Democratic Party may be the party of blue America, especially deep blue metro America, but its bid to be the party of the ordinary American, the common man and woman, is falling short.

There is a simple—and painful—reason for this. The Democrats really are no longer the party of the common man and woman. The priorities and values that dominate the party today are instead those of educated, liberal America which only partially overlap—and sometimes not at all—with those of ordinary Americans.

This has to change. I offer here a three point plan to put the Democrats on a different path where they might reasonably hope to be once again the party of the common man and woman. I won’t pretend that will be easy but I think given political will it can be done. Perhaps the results of the 2022 election will help concentrate the mind as the prospect of the 2024 election looms (President Trump anyone?)

Here are the three parts of the plan, explicated in several of my recent posts and collected here in one convenient package.

1. Democrats Must Move to the Center on Cultural Issues

2. Democrats Must Promote an Abundance Agenda

3. Democrats Must Embrace Patriotism and Liberal Nationalism

Let’s take them each in turn.