Democrats got Joe Biden into the White House but are alarmed at the political power of President Donald Trump’s populist economic platform, admits the pro-Democrat Washington Post.
“Party strategists now speak privately with a sense of gloom and publicly with a tone of concern as the election results become clearer,” said the December 27 print report by political writer Michael Scherer:
They worry about the potential emergence of a mostly male and increasingly interracial working-class coalition for Republicans that will cut into the demographic advantages Democrats had long counted on. They speculate that the tremendous Democratic gains in the suburbs during the Trump years might fade when he leaves office. And they fret that their inability to make inroads in more rural areas could forestall anything but the most narrow Senate majority in the future.
“We just need to acknowledge that Trump’s poison was deeper in the bloodstream of the American electorate than we thought,” said Bradley Beychok, the president of American Bridge, which ran a $62 million ad campaign to hurt Trump among White working-class voters in three northern states that Biden won.
“Poison” is a strong word for Trump’s American-first platform. Still, Scherer is a progressive working for a pro-globalist newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Amazon retail empire. So he cannot easily explain the unpopularity of the establishment’s pro-poverty policies of free trade and cheap immigrant labor.
The Washington Examiner‘s Michael Barone spotlighted that gap in Scherer’s article:
Some large and apparently increasing number [of non-white voters] apparently share Trump’s view that heavy and often illegal low-skill immigration has held down wages of people like them, or they were convinced of that as immigration levels fell and low-credential workers’ wages and incomes increased in 2017, 2018, 2019 and the first two months of 2020.
Progressive Scherer also blames the GOP for the culture war imposed on Americans for decades by Scherer’s fellow progressives, saying, “Democrats also worry about the culture war aspects of the Republican message.”
Yet he also spends several paragraphs warning progressives to stop imposing their “Latinx” identity politics on Americans and instead recognize Trump’s successful pocketbook appeal to non-white Americans.
Much of Scherer’s article includes advice on how Democrats can overcome Trump’s popular populist economic message. But his progressive insistence on a “cultural divide” blinds him to the Democrats’ economic elitism and their vulnerability to GOP economic populist pitch aimed at college graduates.
In 2020, Trump did not pursue a pocketbook strategy with white-collar voters, even though he used it to win more blue-collar voters, including whites, Latinos, and blacks. Trump did make some weak regulatory announcements about white-collar visa programs but barely mentioned the white-collar jobs issue on the campaign trail, even in must-win Pennsylvania. That failure has yet to be explained, but it is likely tied to many GOP investors’ preference for cheap and compliant foreign graduates.
Trump’s failure to offer a pocketbook pitch to American graduates helped Biden gain 5.9 percent in the exurbs, 4.8 percent in college towns, and 2.8 percent in the “middle suburbs,” according to data presented by the Post.
One of Scherer’s Democratic sources hinted at this untapped GOP white-collar opportunity when he admitted the suburbs are a Democratic weak point:
“We won back the House and the White House in the suburbs, but my sense is we are leasing that support — we don’t own it,” said Robby Mook, the manager of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign who led the House Majority PAC this cycle. “With Trump gone, that lease is up for renewal. If we don’t hold on to our gains in the suburbs or replace it by winning back working-class White voters, we will have a problem.”
But that Democratic gain may be difficult, admitted Scherer, the progressive Washington Post writer: “A broad swath of Americans … had an opposite allergic reaction to what Democrats were selling.”
Biden’s pro-migration, cheap-labor policies are very unpopular, including among legal immigrants. Many polls show that the public says it welcomes legal migrants — but also much prefers that new jobs go to Americans first. In April 2020, a Washington Post poll showed that 69 percent of Hispanics said yes when they were asked, “Would you support … temporarily blocking nearly all immigration into the United States during the coronavirus outbreak?” Just 30 percent of Hispanics opposed the border shutdown. The polls also show that the public strongly opposes the white-collar visa worker programs that boost Fortune 500 stock prices by suppressing technological competition and job opportunities for American graduates.
“One of the big questions is whether a Trumpist 2024 candidate can be a little bit milder so as to not alienate the suburbs, yet still inspire the low-propensity Republicans to vote at 2020 levels,” said J.J. Balaban, a Democratic strategist in Pennsylvania,” told the New York Times in November. “If they can pull that off, it’s going to be a very hard environment for Democrats.”
Multiple Democratic strategists admit the electoral power of Trump’s populist coalition.
But that coalition needs reassuring leaders to push back against the billionaires’ army of meritocracy winners & disposable woke & identity activists. https://t.co/1NnnHCnN58
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) November 17, 2020