The Emerging Democratic Minority?

Even after six months of shambolic Republican governance, Democrats are still viewed as an unacceptable alternative to many persuadable voters in middle America.

Those were the sobering findings of a Democratic survey commissioned by the party-backed House Majority PAC. The poll surveyed working-class white voters in pivotal districts that Democrats are targeting in the midterms. Despite the Trump turmoil in Washington, Republicans held a 10-point lead on the generic ballot (43-33 percent) among these blue-collar voters. Democrats hold a whopping 61 percent disapproval rating among these voters, with only 32 percent approving. Even Trump’s job-approval rating is a respectable 52 percent with the demographic in these swing districts.

Democrats maintain that with robust economic messaging, they can move those numbers in their favor. But the results show how difficult that task will be. By a stunning 35-point margin, blue-collar white voters believe that Republicans will be better at improving the economy and creating jobs than Democrats. Under Trump, the economy has been growing—even in the disadvantaged parts of the country. Between promising job creation and Trump’s own paeans to blue-collar work, it’s hard to see the GOP numbers changing significantly.

The more uncomfortable reality is that these blue-collar voters’ resistance to the Democrats is on cultural grounds, not economic ones—a finding that studies of Obama-Trump voters have repeatedly shown. Democrats are facing a double-whammy: They’re still experiencing resistance among moderate voters in suburban swing districts over tax-and-spend economic policies. Meanwhile, small-town voters are having a tough time voting for their candidates because of a growing cultural disconnect.

One of the few Democratic officials to understand that Democrats can’t simply shun Trump as a way back to power is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As The New York Times reported, Cuomo has gone out of his way to avoid criticizing Trump—despite frequently clashing publicly with the progressive mayor of New York City. The strategy has annoyed many Democrats in the deeply Democratic state, befuddled at the strategy.

(Excerpted from National Journal 7/30/17)