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Trump, Republicans Focus on Race and Xenophobia; Democrats Focus on Racial Unity and Economic Fairness: Advantage Democrats

 

The following is a post by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Ron Brownstein, one of the savviest political analysts around, tweeted something yesterday that caught our attention. Commenting on a recent Quinnipiac poll, he wrote:

One key to understanding Democratic opportunities in November: while a striking 49% of US said in a recent @QuinnipiacPoll that Trump is racist, the share in the new poll that say he’s not doing enough to help middle-class is even higher: 58%. That includes 49% of non-col whites.

Here’s how the pollsters characterized these findings:

The Trump Administration is not doing enough to help middle class Americans, voters say 58 – 38 percent. Republicans say 80 – 16 percent that the administration is doing enough, and white men agree 51 – 45 percent. White voters with no college degree are divided as 46 percent say the administration is doing enough and 49 percent say it is not doing enough. Every other listed group says the Trump Administration is not doing enough. Their personal financial situation has gotten better in the last two years, 36 percent of voters say, as 17 percent say it’s worse and 45 percent say their financial situation is the same.

The reason this caught our eye is that it sums up the reason Democrats are on the front foot heading into the midterms: Democrats tend to talk about the need for racial unity and economic fairness, while Republicans tend to talk about racial division in hopes of avoiding discussions of economic fairness.

Too many pundits and operatives still view Democrats as somehow challenged by a binary choice that pits race against class. Some frame this as a “conflict” that pits “identity politics” versus “economic anxiety.” But smart Democrats understand that this is a false choice. They stand up for people of color and decry racially-charged divisiveness; they promise pragmatic governing that addresses kitchen table issues while their opponents practice slash-and-burn politics that point fingers at “the other;” and they preach unity and progress for all, while Republicans opt for zero-sum, divide-and-distract tactics.

President Trump, egged on by his White House Advisor Stephen Miller, is working feverishly to make the midterms all about race, immigration and “us vs. them.” Super PACs aligned with Congressional leaders are spending heavily to do the same. It’s clear why: they want to keep the focus off of the fact that Republicans control all the branches of government and the only things they’ve done is wreck healthcare, defund education and pass a massive tax cut that lines the pockets of their donors while doing nothing to increase the wages of workers.

Let’s imagine a voter that is truly up for grabs in a swing district or state. The Democrat runs ads about guaranteeing health care, increasing wages, funding education, and preserving retirement programs. The Republican runs ads about MS-13, sanctuary cities, and building the wall. In the debate, the Democrat decries the divide-and-distract strategy of the opponent, appeals for racial unity and the bridging of differences, and then pivots to kitchen table issues. The Republican doubles down on the divide-and-distract strategy, claims the Democrat cares more about protecting criminal immigrants than protecting Americans, and then pivots to Nancy Pelosi.

Let’s recall. According to Quinnipiac’s recent polling, nearly half of Americans (49%) think Trump is a racist. But even more (58%) think Trump is not doing enough to help the middle class. Democrats are turning both to their advantage by integrating them into a coherent narrative. Republicans are acting in a way that seemingly reinforces it.

Advantage Democrats.