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Michael Swartz / November 23, 2021

The Good News About Biden’s Stumble

Democrats are losing voters, and they’re trying mightily to explain why.

The elections are over; let the navel-gazing begin. Democrats have conducted three studies to explain their stunning losses in Virginia and nearly in New Jersey earlier this month. What went so wrong for them?

The easy and obvious answer is that Joe Biden isn’t exactly popular. But it’s also more complicated than that.

A recent article by Ryan Grim at The Intercept chronicles those three separate studies. It’s a long and fascinating read that details some of the data Democrats are digesting as they spin around in circles trying to figure out just why the soap they were trying to sell had lost its popularity after two successful election cycles in 2018 and 2020. Grim is, of course, sympathetic.

One sample was feedback from a group of Virginia women who had voted for outgoing Democrat Governor Ralph Northam in 2017 and Joe Biden in 2020, but switched to Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin earlier this month. “What [the consultant] found is that while the women agreed with Democrats on policy, they just didn’t connect with them,” Grim explained. “When asked which party had better policy proposals, the group members overwhelmingly said Democrats. But when asked which party had cultural values closer to theirs, they cited Republicans.”

To make a long story short, Democrats learned that their messaging was bad. But whether it was suburban women who have become upset with the educational system, voters who were “cultural traditionalists” and didn’t see a viable alternative in the Democrats, or those who were turned off by “woke messaging” but would be attracted by “populist language,” the issue for Grim wasn’t in policy but in presentation.

The problem with this approach is that we are in the midst of seeing the difference between the policies Democrats support and the populist approach most recently exhibited by President Donald Trump, and every voice chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” or its coarser FJB equivalent is a voice that isn’t satisfied with Democrat policy. And for good reason.

It’s a long list of objections, but education policy, high gas prices, inflation, open borders, and rising crime top the chart of complaints, and thus far the Democrats’ response seems to be either throwing more money at the problem or offering alternatives that no one wants, such as “green” energy or defunding the police. There was a time in recovering from the worst that COVID-19 dished out when we as a nation needed a hand up, but for too many in this country these hands up became handouts that grew to be seen as entitlements. And the Democrats’ “solution”? More government dependency.

An interesting sidebar to the Grim article was its discussion about the so-called infrastructure bill and whether quicker passage would have helped Democrats. When the focus group was asked this, “Ninety-one percent of the suburban women said no, 9 percent said yes, and one woman laughed and said, ‘What does that have to do with anything?’”

Grim continues: “She’s right to laugh. But that 9 percent actually points to something hopeful. In a close race, a 9-point swing like that can matter. If Democrats had passed the reconciliation bill as well and could talk about universal pre-K, the child tax credit, clean energy investments, and subsidies for child care, they might have won even more back. And if Democrats were in touch culturally, though, that swing could be even higher.”

Talking about more indoctrination, handouts, and carveouts? In some ways, that’s the epitome of tone-deaf. Unfortunately, “free” stuff does tend to woo voters.

Our Lewis Morris talked earlier this month about how the Democrats have lost rural America. “Democrats have focused for 20 years on the inroads they made in urban areas among minorities and wealthy, college-educated whites with their patented brand of class warfare and race-baiting,” he noted. “Counting on an increasingly urbanized population, the party turned its back on rural America, figuring it could run the electoral table on urban regions alone. Once it was assumed that Democrats didn’t need rural voters to win national elections, they did more than turn their back on rural America completely. They discarded it.”

Given the survey results for Democrats, they may be well on the way to doing the same with suburban women voters.

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