Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Out Of Touch Democratic Politicians? Oh, God Forbid!


You probably remember that about a week ago a new poll was released by the Washington Post and ABC News showing that, although 62% of voters feel the Republican Party is out of touch with the concerns of most people, 67% felt the same way about Democrats! That's an atypical finding, although it's worth mentioning that while only 30% of Republicans admitted their party is out of touch, fully 44% of Democrats felt the Democratic Party is out of touch.

Yesterday Greg Sargent got his hands on some non-public polling data that helps explain what went wrong-- including why so many Obama 2012 votes pulled the lever for Trump in 2016. For example, in 2012, Obama took Wisconsin with 1,620,985 votes (52.8%) against Romney's 1,407,966 (45.9%)-- even with favorite son Paul Ryan on the ballot. Last November, though, Trump beat Hillary 1,405,284 (47.22%) to 1,382,536 (46.5%). In Pennsylvania it was even worse. Obama took 2,990,274 votes (52.0%) to Romney's 2,680,434 (46.6%). Four years later, Trump won 2,970,733 votes (48.2%) to Hillary's 2,926,441 (47.5%). Same story in Michigan, In 2012 won the states 16 electors with 2,564,569 votes (54.2%) to Romney's 2,115,256 (44.7%). Last year Trump won those electoral votes-- 2,279,543 (47.5%) to 2,268,839 (47.3%). And where Hillary did better than Obama or-- more accurately, Trump greatly underperformed Romney-- like in Orange County, California or in the Texas suburbs, it made no difference at all in terms of electoral votes. "Why," asked Sargent, did so many voters who backed Barack Obama in 2012 switch to Donald Trump" and can Democrats win them back in 2018 and 2020, when there's no Clinton on the ticket?
One finding from the polling stands out: A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy-- twice the percentage that said the same about Trump. I was also permitted to view video of some focus group activity, which showed Obama-Trump voters offering sharp criticism of Democrats on the economy.

Priorities USA, the super PAC that is working to restore Democrats to power, conducted focus groups of Obama-Trump voters in Wisconsin and Michigan-- two states that Trump snatched from Democrats-- in late January and polled some 800 Obama-Trump voters nationally at around the same time. The pollsters also conducted focus groups with so-called drop-off voters-- people who voted for Obama in 2012 but didn’t vote in 2016-- in the same states and polled 800 drop-off voters nationally.

“[Hillary] Clinton and Democrats’ economic message did not break through to drop-off or Obama-Trump voters, even though drop-off voters are decidedly anti-Trump,” Priorities USA concluded in a presentation of its polling data and focus group findings, which has been shown to party officials in recent days.

The poll found that Obama-Trump voters, many of whom are working-class whites and were pivotal to Trump’s victory, are economically losing ground and are skeptical of Democratic solutions to their problems. Among the findings:
50 percent of Obama-Trump voters said their incomes are falling behind the cost of living, and another 31 percent said their incomes are merely keeping pace with the cost of living.

A sizable chunk of Obama-Trump voters-- 30 percent-- said their vote for Trump was more a vote against Clinton than a vote for Trump. Remember, these voters backed Obama four years earlier.

42 percent of Obama-Trump voters said congressional Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy, vs. only 21 percent of them who said the same about Trump. (Forty percent say that about congressional Republicans.) A total of 77 percent of Obama-Trump voters said Trump’s policies will favor some mix of all other classes (middle class, poor, all equally), while a total of 58 percent said that about congressional Democrats.
“If you felt like your life wasn’t getting better over eight years, then you might draw a conclusion that Democrats don’t care about you,” Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, told me in an interview. “Certainly a subset of these voters were responsive to what Trump was selling them on immigration. But you had a lot of consistency with the Obama-Trump voters… in terms of the severe economic anxiety they face.”

A similar dynamic was in place with the drop-off voters. Priorities USA’s polling found that 43 percent of them said their income is falling behind the cost of living, and another 49 percent said incomes were merely keeping pace. “There’s a lot of commonality between these drop-off voters and the Obama-Trump voters,” Cecil said.

Skepticism about the Democratic Party was echoed rather forcefully in the focus groups that I watched. In one, Obama-Trump voters were asked what Democrats stand for today and gave answers such as these:

“The one percent.”

“The status quo.”

“They’re for the party. Themselves and the party.”

One woman, asked whether the Democratic Party is for people like her, flatly declared: “Nope.”

When I asked Cecil whether Clinton and/or her campaign, in addition to stagnating incomes, were to blame for these voters’ conclusions about Democrats on the economy, he answered carefully. He acknowledged Clinton’s “high unfavorable ratings” but added that “some of these problems pre-dated 2016.” When it comes to communicating a message of economic opportunity that wins over both “communities of color” (where some drop-off voters are concentrated) and “struggling exurban families” (the types who went for Trump), Cecil acknowledged that Democrats “clearly have a lot of work to do.”

I also asked Cecil whether, in this context, Clinton’s association with Wall Street was part of the problem and whether Barack Obama’s widely criticized decision to accept $400,000 for a speech sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald also risked feeding it. Do Democrats have a “Wall Street problem”?

Cecil pointed out that Democrats favor far more in the way of Wall Street accountability and oversight than Republicans do. But he acknowledged that Democrats must do more to take on Wall Street and said the party should represent a substantially more ambitious economic agenda:
“The deck is stacked against most Americans in many ways. Pharmaceutical companies that gouge consumers, for-profit prisons that abuse inmates and do nothing to reform them, for-profit colleges that offer false hopes and incredible amounts of debt (my brother went to one). Democrats must take on these systemic problems and we must name names.

“The second part of the argument must include a real, forward-looking economic plan that does more than rehash the same four policy proposals from the last 20 years. How do we deal with automation and huge company mergers? What do we do to address opportunity deserts in rural and urban areas where real investment is almost impossible to find?”
Ultimately, though, Cecil said that all this research and polling suggested to him that Democrats have an opportunity. The polling also shows that, among the Obama-Trump voters, large percentages of the more cautious supporters of Trump are concerned that he will go through with deep cuts to social programs and the repeal of Obamacare.

“To win back cautious Trump supporters, we should tie Trump to GOP policies that put the interests of the wealthy/businesses before the middle class and programs they rely on,” the polling memo concludes.

Cecil noted that winning back Obama-Trump voters would be key in 2018 to defending vulnerable Democratic senators and winning the many gubernatorial contests that are taking place in big swing states currently controlled by Republicans. But he also cautioned against too narrow a focus on those voters. He pointed out that motivating those Obama 2012 voters who sat out 2016-- and keeping Trump’s margin down among the college-educated whites who may be souring on him and are concentrated in many districts of the more vulnerable House Republicans-- will also be imperatives.

“Democrats are going to have to make a historic investment in turnout,” Cecil said. “Democrats are going to have to have a real persuasion campaign that we lacked in 2016.”
And maybe the Democratic Party ought to hang corrupt careerists like Debbie Wasserman Schultz out to dry. Until they do, the party will be forever complicit in stealing the nomination for a much-disliked, completely out of touch candidate who could actual lose to Donald Trump. If the Democratic Party keeps nominating Republican-lite garbage candidates and cock-blocking progressives, they will just keep losing and losing and losing... no matter how horrible the garbage the GOP puts up. As we saw the other day 104 Democrats (now 108) in the House have signed on as co-sponsors to John Conyers' Medicare-For-All legislation. But among the Democrats who haven't is virtually the party's whole congressional leadership and lots of congressmembers running for higher office. Many think that instead of embracing a progressive agenda they can skate by with verbal fisticuffs against Trump's shadow. Not co-sponsoring:
Adam Schiff, who wants to run for Feinstein's Senate seat
Tom Walz, who wants to run for governor of Minnesota
Donald Norcross, who wants to run for Menendez's Senate seat if Menendez goes to prison
Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor of New Mexico
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who still thinks she's going to be Speaker of the House someday
John Delaney, who wants to run for governor of Maryland.

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At 10:13 PM, Blogger Phil Perspective said...

Didn't Guy Cecil used to run the DSCC, or was it the DCCC? Meaning he was the literal guy in charge, right below the figurative one(Congressperson or Senator). Cecil is part of the problem though I doubt it dawned on him.

At 12:50 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

I have to give Justice Democrats & Brand New Congress huge props for rolling the dice & pressuring all the House Dems to support John Conyers's Medicare-For-All legislation keep it up guys.

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

I still have NO sympathy for the fools who switched to Trump and helped to screw over this country. They thought Trump and the Republican Party would be better for them economically than Hillary and the Dems? Really? They disliked Hillary so much that they voted for a completely ignorant, uninformed, inexperienced, pathological liar who is mentally unfit, belligerent, impulsive and extremely dangerous? And...who is actually a lousy businessman with criminal contacts who destroyed everyone around him while he enriched himself? The man who went bankrupt how many times? The man who never reads a book, let alone more than one page? The narcissist who cares only about himself? The man who admires Putin and other authoritarian leaders of his ilk?

As faulty as she was, the Hillary hatred was drummed up way out of proportion. The Republicans and the media did a terrific completely uneven job of destroying her and not Trump. She was a far better candidate than Trump on many fronts. (I reiterate I voted for Bernie and did not like Hillary either, but I did vote for her in the end all the same.)

Yes, the Dems had better get their act together with a progressive agenda. They have ignored the bulk of their constituents for way to long. But in the past, where else could the progressives go? The party thought they would always have the progressives in the bag. The way things are set up with our two party system, it is either Dems or Republicans so the Dems figure they have the progressives without doing anything much for them, since they have no other real choice. Well, they underestimated them and their commitment to their "high moral ground": many either went for Stein or Johnson (very stupid "protest" votes with no reality attached to them) or Trump (even stupider votes).

Let's hope the French do another clothespin vote and keep Le Pen out. Hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. This is critical! It was critical for America and too many voters were too stupid to see it. Chomsky had it right. So now we have Trump and his horrible crew. The French, just maybe, are smarter. We will see.

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

check out the numbers again. Some went T when a lot of Hs stayed home, not because a lot of Ds switched.
In some others, it was a lot of dormants showed up for T instead of H.
There are only a couple where the R voters went up about the same as the D voters went down, and you can guess where these are.

Hint: It's about the stupid and the racism.

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D voters only want their candidate to TELL them how much they care. After they vote for them, they don't bother to pay attention to how their votes hurt them.

D voters are worse than R voters. At least the Rs insist that their assholes do what they promise... or at least try. D voters don't seem to care what their assholes actually do.


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