August 17, 2017

How the Democrats lost rural America

Roll Call, November 2016 - Democrats in rural America have a blunt message for the rest of their party: We saw the electoral disaster coming — and it’s your fault.

Strategists and party officials say their warnings about the party’s lackluster outreach to rural voters went unheeded by Democratic leaders for years, culminating in [the] shock defeat to Donald Trump.

.... To these old Democratic political hands — many of whom hail from well outside the cities where most party professionals live — the outcome would have been preventable if the party had developed and sustained an effort to win over these voters. Instead, they say a Democratic Party that focused on only the urban and suburban vote either ignored rural America entirely or badly mishandled the outreach it did undertake.

...More than anything, these strategists say the Democratic Party simply needs to show up. According to some strategists, the party didn’t even bother to organize a voter outreach effort in rural America, they say, much less send candidates to hold rallies there.

...When Democratic officials did show up, Sadler and others said they were ill-equipped for the nuances of a campaign in rural America.

“When they do show up, it’s 22-year-old kids from the Ivy League,” Sadler said. “And they’re telling you what do, as opposed to stopping and listening.”

To these strategists, the Democratic Party has become captive by a set of city-dwelling political professionals who personally don’t understand the important differences of urban versus rural campaigns. It’s a blindness that led them to dismiss the results of successive midterm elections, electoral wipeouts that many Democrats believed was mostly a consequence of the party’s urban base failing to turn out.

“The brilliant ones at top know better,” said Nancy Larson, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. “And they come down and say, ‘This is what you do, this is what you say, this is what you have your candidates do, and don’t stray from this.’”


greg gerritt said...

The Dems also need a program to reinvent rural economies based on ecological healing and justice. Otherwise it is jsut lip service

Anonymous said...

Bernie had no problem turning out the rural voters in his Minnesota primary landslide victory over Clinton. Minnesota has elected DFL senators and governor. But it was the party machine and its hapless presidential nominee that voters rejected in November. Sanders would have rewritten the political map to include rural voters but he lacked the power to alter a party that holds the line against any form of populism that threatens its platinum donors.