Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Update on rural voting patterns, and a bit about the Bustos report on the "heartland"

This overview paragraph is from Dave Weigel's piece in the Washington Post on Democrat Margaret Good's win in the race for Florida's 72d congressional race yesterday, a seat based in Sarasota: 
But for years, Democrats had been spending little, and losing more — nearly 1,000 state legislative seats, many gerrymandered further out of reach after the party was routed in 2010. Starting last year, they’ve seen money and volunteers flood the sort of local races where the party had been wiped out during Barack Obama’s presidency. In many of the races they’ve lost, they’ve erased most of Republicans’ margins, often with the same pattern — strong Democratic turnout in suburbs and a Republican fade in rural voting. In an average of legislative races, Democrats have seen a 11.9 percent swing since 2016 results.
I've not yet posted about the extensive coverage given to Representative Cheri Bustos's (Democrat-IL) report with recommendations on how the Democrats can take back seats in the Midwest.  Read more about that report here (In These Times), here (Politico), and here (NPR).  In These Times coverage by John Collins includes this description of the report:
Hope From the Heartland: How Democrats Can Better Serve the Midwest by Bringing Rural, Working Class Wisdom to Washington compiles interviews with 72 current or former Democratic officials who, in recent years, won over their rural constituents despite the national popularity of the Republican opposition. According to the report, these were candidates who “bucked the trend and succeeded in the rural Midwest, now dominated by Republicans.”
In the interview with Bustos on NPR, she was asked if she was "suggesting that Democrats went too far in their backing on issues like gay marriage or transgender rights" and whether "that has been part of the [Democrats'] problem." She responded: 
Well, I don't think we should ever lose sight of fighting for the people who need us to fight for them, whether it's, you know, the LGBTQ community or whether it's communities of color. You know, we're Democrats, and we fight for people and for better lives for families. 
But what I'm saying is that we need to stay relentlessly and I - you know, just keep our eyes on the ball for economic recovery in areas that have yet to see it. You know, when we say that we're the big-tent party, you know, that doesn't mean that you leave one group outside pounding the stakes and you let other people - you let them in the tent. When we say we're the big-tent party, we've got to be inclusive, and we've got to fight for everybody. And that includes people in the heartland who have gone through some tough times.
This Bustos-led report was also mentioned in a podcast on This American Life.   One striking thing about that episode was Bustos coaching a female candidate for office not to play up her college education given that many voters in the district were not similarly educated.

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