Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Do progressives care about rural voters?

That's the provocative question animating Jeffrey Bloodworth's essay in today's Washington Post (picked up from UnHerd).  Here's the lede: 

“The Democratic Party doesn’t give a sh-- about what voters have to say.” Eva Posner, a Virginia-based Democratic political consultant, is furious. She fears that the progressive establishment will pay in 2024 for snubbing rural voters.

And here are some key excerpts: 

The trouble is that rural voters are difficult to reach. In the 1990s, liberals all but ceded talk radio to conservatives, an act of foolishness, given the platform is crucial to connecting with a car-loving population. Soon after, the internet transformed the economics of newspapers: Nearly 3,000 American newspapers have folded since 2005. Rural newspapers were hit especially hard. Today, more than half of all U.S. counties have very limited, if any, access to local news. On top of this, nearly a quarter of rural Americans lack broadband internet. How can they keep up with Washington politics while living in a media vacuum?

Despite these obstacles, Democrats can move the electoral needle in rural America. They don’t even need to win a majority of the rural vote — just reduce the margin of defeat. Barron points to Arizona’s 2020 U.S. Senate election: In a race in which Democrat Mark Kelly spent nearly $100 million, compared with Republican Martha McSally’s $72 million, Barron says it was a $20,000 rural radio advertisement that turned the tide. Unlike many Democratic candidates in the past, Kelly took more than 30 percent of the vote in every rural Arizona county, bar one. This turned out to be vital in a race decided by about 78,000 votes.

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