Friday, October 26, 2018

Democrats are on a long haul to win back rural voters

Two major magazines have had recent stories about Democrats trying to stay alive in rural America.

The first, in The Economist, says "The challenge is overcoming decades of toxic decline—an exceedingly tall order." But the first thing is to go to rural places and ask for votes, the magazine heard from people who know some things about rural voters.

Bill Bishop, author of the 2008 book The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart, pointed out that Barack Obama “visited rural locations infrequently while in office. As Deb Kozikowski, a 2016 Democratic superdelegate who heads an advocacy group called Rural Votes, bluntly puts it: 'Democrats need to show up...We don’t have an engagement problem; we just don’t engage.'”

The second story is a long piece in The New Yorker, by Nicholas Lemann, on Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill's effort to win re-election, which is very much in doubt. No longer do folks in rural Missouri think Democrats have their economic interests more at heart than Republicans do, he reports, quoting McCaskill: "No more. Now there's a much brighter dividing line between rural and urban. A lot of people gave up on me. They gave up on us. . . . Donald Trump gave voters a place to put their anger."

Bishop "argues that the fundamental division in American political geography is less between strictly urban and rural regions than between the central cores of cities of more than 1 million people and everywhere else," The Economist reports.

The main lenses for the Economist story are races for Congress in Kansas. It concludes, "The Democratic brand remains toxic in rural America. This year, the Democrats’ road to retaking the House runs through the suburbs, not the countryside. But the Democrats did not lose rural America in one cycle; it will take more than one for them to rebuild."

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