Democrats say they’re in need of serious course corrections to stay competitive in future electio…

Democrats say theyre in need of serious course corrections to stay competitive in future elections, warning the party may no longer be able to rely on anger at President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against ’60 Minutes’ for interview with KrebsCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has ‘no chance’ of being confirmed as Biden’s OMB pickPa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: reportMORE to drive voters to the polls.
Top liberals interviewed by The Hill expressed concern that the party would drift back to old established ways after using Trump as a boogeyman to raise money and juice turnout for the past two cycles.
Democrats are alarmed after this months election revealed soft spots among non-college-educated and Latino voters and skeptical that theyll consistently be able to rely on turnout from affluent white suburbanites who rejected Trump.
With Trump out of office, some Democrats say the party should fill the void of economic populism hell be leaving behind by aiming their policies and rhetoric at lifting working class Americans who have felt ignored by Washington.
And they feel a renewed urgency to build out a centralized campaign infrastructure. Theyre calling on President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump rages against ’60 Minutes’ for interview with KrebsCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has ‘no chance’ of being confirmed as Biden’s OMB pickFive things to know about Georgia’s Senate runoffsMORE to work on rebuilding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and for party operatives to train their focus on winning state legislative races that Republicans have dominated.
The 2020 election was a referendum on Donald Trump, plain and simple, said Robert Reich, a former Labor secretary under President Clinton and economic adviser to President Obama. Democrats really have not had to worry about their message or having substantive policy proposals over the last four years. But going forward, Democrats cant just rely on being against Trump. The question is, who do Democrats stand for and what do they stand for now in the post-Trump era?
Democrats say that after Biden squashes the coronavirus pandemic and stabilizes the economy, he needs to steer the party in a direction where it can credibly claim to representing working people and not the monied class.
The rural-urban partisan divide has never been greater, and Democrats worry that they risk becoming the party of educated cultural elites when their own base is energized by the economic populism espoused by leftists such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden announces all-female White House communications team The ‘diploma divide’ in American politicsBernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or RussiaMORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shiftThomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequalityThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nationMORE (D-Mass.).
Liberals see the path to winning over the working poor through policies such as raising the minimum wage, expanding the earned income tax credits, raising taxes on the wealthy, investing in infrastructure and jobs programs, expanding the Affordable Care Act and addressing soaring health care deductibles.
I dont think Democrats can sustain themselves as the party of the college educated, Reich said. There arent enough of them, and it leaves a huge void in American politicsBiden could still fill it. He has working class roots and hes connected to labor unions, but both rhetorically and in terms of policy, hes got to show Americans hes on the side of the bottom two-thirds who have all but been forgotten.
Biden has said his first actions as president will be to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, to roll back Trumps executive orders on the environment, and to send financial assistance to states and local government struggling to meet budgetary shortfalls amid the pandemic.
The coalition of voters that turned out to elect Biden in 2020 included wealthy, formerly right-leaning suburban-dwellers. Democrats would be thrilled to keep them as a part of their base going forward, but many view those as fleeting tactical votes against Trump.
Veteran Democratic operative Mark Longabaugh said that if Democrats are to keep their 2020 voters and draw in new ones, it will be because of an obsessive focus on health care and kitchen table economics.
Longabaugh said Democrats are too easily distracted, missing the big picture while getting drawn into complicated rhetorical fights over which party is more committed to protecting pre-existing conditions, for example.
Its absolutely vital that the Democratic Party come with a bread-and-butter kitchen table economic message for the country. Weve many times failed to do that effectively and its cost us, he said.
Without this galvanizing anti-Trump sentiment to drive our vote, we have to be talking about jobs, wages, and better health care. We had two messages this election one that was anti-Trump and one that was health care. The health care message is effective, but the only ads anyone wanted to run were on preexisting conditions. The health care system is broken in 15 different directions and narrow spots on preexisting conditions are not enough, theyre not an agenda. If we dont have an agenda, well suffer losses.
Democrats believe that their failure to appeal to working class voters may have cost them with Latinos, who did not come out as solidly for Biden as many expected.
Liberal strategist Chuck Rocha, a veteran of Sanderss presidential campaign and fierce critic of the partys Latino outreach efforts, said the upper crust of Democratic consultants are largely white intellectuals who have no idea how to speak to working class Latinos.
He said the Trump campaigns targeted advertising efforts and commitment to winning over Latinos worked in many parts of the country.
Democrats, he said, should rip pages out of the Trump playbook, appealing to voters emotions rather than banging them on the head with policy proposals that make for good governing but do nothing to capture the imagination in a win-or-go-home election.
We need to own the narrative and take credit for things that we do. We need to send our Black and brown surrogates out for a victory lap and to spike the football in these communities when we pass legislation that improves their lives, Rocha said.
Its about owning the narrative and being on the offensive. Trump is great at this. Our consultants are brilliant, but if this was a public policy debate, Trump would never have been president. He was smart enough to put a slogan on a hat. Theres no hat big enough for our 15-point plans.
Finally, Democrats stressed the importance of having a strong national party to rival the Republican National Committee.
They said Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClintons top five vice presidential picksGovernment social programs: Triumph of hope over evidenceLabors ‘wasteful spending and mismanagement at Workers CompMORE has made strides as head of the DNC, but there is still a long way to go after it was ignored throughout the Obama years and effectively collapsed during the 2016 election.
Republicans, meanwhile, have prioritized winning state legislatures, which will redraw congressional district boundaries next year.
Democrats are bemoaning the tens of millions of dollars they sent to doomed Senate candidates who ended up losing by double-digits when the money could have been pumped into down-ticket races and local organizing.
Republicans have had a multi-decade plan to focus on state legislatures to redraw congressional lines. Theyve had a methodical and disciplined plan and theyve implemented it to amazing success, said veteran Democratic operative Joe Trippi.
Democrats, weve been primarily focused on federal races and never paid anything but lip service to local legislative races. That cant keep happening. Its time we found religion on this.