The Atlantic: ARE IOWA’S DEMOCRATIC DAYS GONE FOR GOOD?

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DUBUQUE, Iowa—Megan Simpson was 3 years old when her family strapped her in a stroller and took her door-knocking for the first time. She was in elementary school when she began stuffing mailers for get-out-the-vote campaigns. Every Election Day during the 1990s and 2000s, Megan and her five brothers and sisters stayed home from school as the house was transformed into a staging area for the precinct. Her parents would blast Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business,” and their living room would fill up with volunteers and stacks of walk packets.


In Dubuque County, full of Irish and German Catholics and dotted with manufacturing plants, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by the thousands. These were blue-collar people, most of them white, who voted for politicians allied with unions. The county hadn’t backed a Republican presidential candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. It was the seat of Democratic politics in northeast Iowa, maybe the strongest concentration of Democrats in the entire state. And the Simpsons were its first family.

The Simpsons had a passion for politics, and a family history of state and local political involvement that stretched back decades. The clan was a “political machine,” Greg Simpson, Megan’s father, told me. Led by their parents, or sometimes alone, the kids would trek around town, showing up on people’s porches to talk about health care and register them to vote. They marched and toddled in parades for Iowa candidates such as Tom Harkin, Tom Vilsack, and their own aunt and uncle, the well-known state lawmakers Pam and Tom Jochum. “Whoever the Simpsons were working for was who [people in town] wanted to be behind,” Kelly Simpson, Megan’s mother, told me.

John Kerry doted on Megan’s sister, little Madi Simpson, letting her ride along on his northeast-Iowa bus tour in 2004 when she was 5. A few years later, Michelle Obama told a group of supporters she hoped that Sasha and Malia would turn out as well as the Simpson girls. In 2007, Megan was an organizer on Barack Obama’s Iowa caucus campaign. She spent her days driving through town, and out to the county’s rural areas, trying to persuade thousands of white people to elect the country’s first Black president. When Obama won the caucuses, and later swept the county and the state, the Simpson family was thrilled. But they weren’t surprised: Dubuque County always chose Democrats. That was true, at least, until 2016.


On the evening of November 8, Megan and her siblings gathered at Happy’s Place, the local Democratic bar, to watch the results roll in. When they realized what was about to happen, Megan’s sisters began to cry. At home, Greg poured himself a glass of bourbon. By morning, Donald Trump had become the first Republican presidential nominee to win Dubuque County in Greg’s lifetime. Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton by roughly one percentage point in the county, but the swing away from Democrats was enormous: Obama had won by 15 points just four years before. Dubuque was one of 206 U.S. counties that pivoted hard and fast from Obama to Trump—and one of 31 in Iowa. At Happy’s, Kelly was sick to her stomach. “I felt like I had lost a connection with Dubuque,” she told me. “I felt like, Who are the people living in this town?” Four years later, Trump won Dubuque County again, this time by seven points, even as he lost the election to Joe Biden. The Simpson family faced a devastating reality: A Democrat was headed to the White House, but a Republican had won their home turf by an even bigger margin than before.



The Simpsons remain hopeful. Most of the clan insists that the party can still turn things around, maybe not in this year’s midterm electionsfor which today’s primaries are being heldbut in the next cycle, or the one after that. Megan wonders if Dubuque’s support for Trump was simply a Halley’s Comet that most Americans won’t witness again in their lifetime. Greg sees the GOP’s progress as the natural motion of the country’s political pendulum. “I don’t think [the county] is irretrievably gone. A lot of the people who voted for Trump might come around,” he told me. It makes sense that the Simpson family is optimistic. They’ve spent decades working to keep Democrats in power in Iowa. But Dubuque County has changed, and so has its once-ruling party. The voters who formed this reliable blue bastion on the Mississippi now seem to be sprinting away from it as fast as they can.

People say iowa is flat, but Dubuque County is all lush, rolling fields and open sky. Your ears pop when you drive into the city’s downtown. A rickety funicular makes trips up and down the bluff, offering stunning views of the snaking Mississippi. Growing up three hours downriver, the only thing I knew about Dubuque was that a lot of Catholics lived there, and that’s still true. The county is home to three Catholic colleges, two seminaries, and six religious orders. (Joe Biden, during his various bids for president, used to take ice cream to the nuns.) John Deere employs nearly 3,000 locals at its factory in Dubuque, making backhoes and crawlers. For decades, this was a region full of progressive labor leaders and pro-life Democrats, a place where you could actually find people who identified as “socially conservative but fiscally liberal.” The county’s rural voters were always more conservative, but their votes were usually outweighed by the Democrats in town.


The Simpsons used to live on Prince Street in Dubuque, near Comiskey Park. It was a mostly Catholic neighborhood where many residents were active in unions, such as the local United Auto Workers and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. During Obama’s 2007 caucus campaign, Megan would go door-to-door in the area and talk with her neighbors about the Illinois senator. They’d tell her how much they liked him, and how excited they were to vote. Some of those same people became precinct captains, and reliable Obama volunteers. The Comiskey Park neighborhood went overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008; lines on Election Day at nearby precincts were longer than the Simpsons had ever seen.

By the fall of 2016, Megan had moved away. But during the general election, she traveled home to Dubuque with a few friends to volunteer for Clinton. They drove over to Comiskey Park to start knocking on doors. This time, though, few of her former neighbors seemed excited. Most didn’t answer, and the ones who did told her different versions of the same thing: We don’t like Clinton, and we don’t trust the Democrats anymore. They were deflated. One man’s words are cemented in Megan’s memory: “No one cares; none of them are good,” he told her with a shrug. “I’m over it.”

TKTKTK
The Simpson family sits for a portrait in Dubuque on December 18, 2021. (From left: Gabe, Megan, Hannah, Kelly, Madison, Greg, Allison, and William) (Nick Rohlman for The Atlantic)
 
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On the night of the election, Megan sent a volunteer to Comiskey Park to drop off snacks to voters in line outside the voting precinct at Sacred Heart Church. The volunteer called her cellphone a few minutes later: “There’s no one here,” they told her. Disappointed, Megan drove to a different precinct near the outer ring of Dubuque, where she’d heard there was a long line. She took water and granola bars to the voters there, relieved at the sight of them all, crowding outside the Assemblies of God Church on Pennsylvania Avenue. It wasn’t until later, after the results came in, that it hit her: “Those people were not voting for Hillary.”


During the four years of Trump’s presidency, Megan was advising Democratic candidates in Montana. Allison, the next-oldest Simpson sibling, started a Democratic volunteer group in Dubuque County called Girl Force. Kelly Simpson volunteered almost every month in 2020. But their neighbors’ lack of interest in voting for Democrats endured. Even “after Trump won, people didn’t want to be bothered,” Kelly remembers. She’d visit houses of loyal Democrats—former Obama and Kerry voters—and they’d dismiss her politely. “We’re not interested anymore,” they’d say. Meanwhile, Trump’s support grew. At a rally at the Dubuque airport a few days before the election, people walked for miles to hear him speak, leaving their cars parked along Highway 61. When Biden lost the county in 2020, the Simpsons weren’t surprised, exactly; they were disgusted. Hannah, the third-oldest Simpson, told me she felt betrayed. “I had a lot of hatred for people in Dubuque for a while after that election,” she said. Are we that county that I was raised to believe we were? she’d wondered.

Last fall, 10,000 John Deere workers across the country, including many in Dubuque, went on strike for five weeks while they negotiated a new contract. One of Kelly’s cousins was on the picket line, and she told Kelly about men who went on strike wearing their bright-red trump 24 T-shirts. A decade ago, the thought of a UAW member in Dubuque openly supporting a Republican presidential candidate on the picket line was inconceivable. “Donald Trump wasn’t for you!” Kelly wanted to shout at them. “Not one of them should ever be wearing a Trump ’24 shirt. Because then we have failed them.”


Dubuque UAW members who swung to Trump didn’t do so because of his policy promises, though, Dan White, the former president of the union local, told me. Sure, they liked that he talked about keeping jobs in America, but mostly they really just appreciated the way he talked, and how he sounded like he was on their side. Fox News, talk radio, and social media helped reinforce that impression, Tom Townsend, the business manager of the local IBEW, told me. Many of his members have fully bought into the right’s portrayal of Democrats—that they’re all socialists who want to take their guns. They won’t listen when Townsend tries to tell them otherwise.

Changing the reputation that Democrats have in northeast Iowa right now will be a tough project. Early last fall, I visited a few of the neighborhoods where Megan had helped Obama win, and which had since swung to Trump. Democrats aren’t speaking to working people anymore, Lori Milledge, a 52-year-old social worker in one such precinct, told me. Even though Trump was “an ass,” Milledge said, “he really was ‘America First.’” Down the street, a retired John Deere employee and UAW member named Ronald told me he’s always voted Democrat, but he hasn’t actually liked a presidential nominee since Obama. The party “turned away from the working-class people, and [went] more to the upper-crust type—the college graduates and people in corporate offices,” he said. He’ll probably keep voting for Democrats, but he knows many others who won’t. His wife, another longtime Democrat, is so fed up with what she sees as the party’s elitism that she told Ronald she’d consider voting for Trump in 2024.


Union involvement was once a reliable way to discern whether someone was a Democrat. Today, education is a better predictor of party affiliation. The Simpsons sit at this complicated intersection of politics and identity. Greg earned his bachelor’s degree in history and, later, a nursing degree from a local community college. He is an educated professional, yet he still views his party’s leadership as elitist and entrenched: “I can’t think of two more stereotypically worse people than Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi,” he told me. Schumer is “a coastal guy who doesn’t know what a loaf of bread costs. He’s got his glasses down on his nose; he’s been in the Senate for a million years. If I just got off my shift and saw his face come on TV, am I gonna say, ‘Hey, this guy gets me’?”

Read: America’s real ‘wokeness’ divide

America’s growing education gap has led to an imbalance, some political analysts argue, in which the highest-educated, most-liberal members of the Democratic Party control its messaging—alienating less educated, less liberal Americans who might otherwise be open to voting blue. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the people we’ve lost are likely to be low-socioeconomic-status people,” the Democratic pollster David Shor, one of the leading proponents of this theory, told Ezra Klein in an interview last year.

Megan, who didn’t graduate from college but has made politics her full-time career, is hyperconscious of the risks of appearing to condescend to her fellow Democrats. When Trump won in 2016, she was living in San Francisco and working at Airbnb. At the Women’s March a few months later, she overheard a group of women talking. “How could anyone vote for Trump? Don’t they have a brain?” one of them asked. Megan was so frustrated by the way people spoke about Trump supporters—her neighbors and her friends—that she quit her job and moved back to Iowa. “I just felt like it was time for me to leave this bubble,” she told me.

The simpsons insist that democrats will start winning federal elections again in Dubuque County if they can convince voters that they’re true allies of the working class. They need to “show up at UAW meetings, to be out on the picket lines,” Kelly said. Voters need to know, Greg said, that “we want to fix bridges, and get the roads paved, and make sure kids are in school.” Yes, Democrats want gender-neutral bathrooms, he added, “but it’s not the only thing we care about.” Some of the same volunteers and organizers that the family worked with a decade ago are still active in Dubuque. That fact gives Megan hope. “It’s a long-term game,” she said. “They’re doing the work.”

Democrats have been trying to send this message through their policies—the American Rescue Plan; the bipartisan infrastructure bill. But changing people’s impressions of a party isn’t as simple as tweaking a platform, because the majority of Americans don’t hold strong policy views. In politics, personality is the product; policies are the fine print that most people don’t have time to read. “Individual people’s politics is so much more about who they think they are in the world as opposed to policy stances,” Kathy Cramer, a political-science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me. “It’s about ‘Am I being heard? Am I being respected?’” To have any hope of clawing back their former terrain, Democrats need to make voters feel like the answer is yes.

Yet even local Democrats who have made powerful cultural appeals are in trouble in Dubuque. Abby Finkenauer, the energetic, folksy-sounding daughter of a local-union pipe fitter, who won the county in 2018, couldn’t make her win stick. In 2020, she lost to a Trump-endorsed Republican who campaigned on stopping the radicals and socialists in Congress. “To the extent that folks in Dubuque or anywhere else are getting messages from the [Democrats], they’re not coming from the messaging machine; they’re coming through various intermediaries, like Fox News and social media,” Lee Drutman, a political scientist and the author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop, told me. Finkenauer is now running for U.S. Senate. If she secures the Democratic nomination in tonight’s primary, she will face longtime Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in the general election. She’s not favored to win.


Read: Democrats are losing the culture wars

Creating a message that can win back Trump voters is tricky. Resentment of elites and economic insecurity clearly helped fuel Trump’s rise, but support for Trump is also linked to racial resentment. Dubuque, which is 85 percent white, has a history of racism and discrimination. To make an effective cultural appeal and hold true to their principles, Democrats will have to figure out how to alleviate the anxiety that these white Americans are feeling while continuing to advocate for marginalized people, Ashley Jardina, a political scientist and the author of the book White Identity Politics, told me.
 
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Republicans aren’t going to make their rivals’ task any easier. Voters now see the GOP as “reaching out to the working person without their nose in the air about being a hunter or a gun collector,” Jeff Kaufmann, the chair of the Iowa GOP, told me. Before 2016, Republicans didn’t have much of an advertising budget in Dubuque. Kaufmann used to visit the county annually, but he traveled there four times in 2021 alone. Each of his events has drawn massive crowds and even more money. He credits Trump. “I couldn’t have brought them over. It took a phenomenon, and Donald Trump was that phenomenon.”

Losing Dubuque County is not going to cost Joe Biden the presidential election in 2024. Iowa, with its six Electoral College votes, is not a necessary stepping stone for Democrats on the path to the White House. It’s no longer the purple state it once was. But the Simpsons’ struggle is a glimpse into the future for Democrats in different, more-contested parts of America. The voters abandoning the party here are much like the ones in places like Macomb County, Michigan; Kenosha County, Wisconsin; and Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The question for Democrats is whether the first families of these counties can avoid becoming strangers in their own lands too.

The Simpson family is now scattered across the country. Greg and Kelly are divorced now, and Kelly moved to Wisconsin for a job. Greg still lives in Dubuque, but he’s less active in Democratic politics than he used to be. Hannah and Allison have moved to nearby Jackson County. Megan is in Montana, watching from a distance as her home state continues to move away from Democrats. Sometimes she can’t help but feel defeated. That feeling hits hardest when she’s driving through Dubuque County, remembering all the central-committee meetings, the door-knocking with her sisters, and the excitement of the Obama volunteers. It’s difficult, in those moments, to ignore the sinking feeling that people here aren’t on her side anymore. “It’s possible, right?” she said. “That’s what the trend looks like.”
 

ThorneStockton

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This is pretty good: "But changing people’s impressions of a party isn’t as simple as tweaking a platform, because the majority of Americans don’t hold strong policy views. In politics, personality is the product; policies are the fine print that most people don’t have time to read."

To add on to this: “Individual people’s politics is so much more about who they think they are in the world as opposed to policy stances,” Kathy Cramer, a political-science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me. “It’s about ‘Am I being heard? Am I being respected?’”"

It's also about are we demonizing our enemies? Are we hurting the right people? Have we identified the perpetrators who made us victims?
 

Nole Lou

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It's crazy if you look back at just how recently places like Oklahoma, Indiana, Alabama, etc had Democratic governors. And places like NY and CA had Republican governors. And that seems unthinkable now.

I think it's likely because of the emergence of 24 hour news and all politics becoming national, which became supercharged with social media. Both parties have basically purged anyone who isn't doctrinaire to a certain set of beliefs. The fact is that Iowa Democrats have to basically run on the policies of AOC and Republicans on the policies of Ron Desantis, less they be primaried, or at the very least, denied committee funds.

25 years ago, Iowa voters would have barely known who those people were, let alone given a shit. So candidates could run on a version of the platform that was more local and played for local folks. In a more normal world, Iowa Democrats wouldn't be in a position to defend the Fairfax VA school board, but here we are.
 

GOHOX69

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Iowans are pretty pragmatic. The further left the dems go the less likely they are to win iowa back.

I believe dems will wise to this over the next 6 years or so and Iowa will swing back, as it always has.
No it won't. The demographics of the state have changed. People who want high paying white collar jobs and who are mostly liberal and vote democratic leave the state or don't come here at all anymore for education. That trend shows no sign of reversal.
 

Rifler

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No it won't. The demographics of the state have changed. People who want high paying white collar jobs and who are mostly liberal and vote democratic leave the state or don't come here at all anymore for education. That trend shows no sign of reversal.

The Iowa Democrat base of the past was substantially blue collar,.. Most those people are still here but the party has moved away from them...
 

Hawk_4shur

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Politics has become, "I want them to hate (or fear) my opponent more than they hate me".

People were probably amazed when a movie star was elected the Gov of California and later the POTUS. Now, you have to be a "star" of some kind to get elected. More outspoken, more on the fringe, able to dump a big sack of poop on the opponent. Create fear and you stand a good chance of winning.

People today seem to fear liberals and "socialism" more than they fear anything else - even the loss of our democracy.

Very sad.
 

MitchLL

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Mississippi North. Becoming "redder" every election.

Educated, college graduates are leaving Iowa in droves.

Left with subsidy loving ag entities and white housewives trying to dictate what schools can teach.
 

Colonoscopy

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Mississippi North. Becoming "redder" every election.

Educated, college graduates are leaving Iowa in droves.

Left with subsidy loving ag entities and white housewives trying to dictate what schools can teach.

Hasn't the educated college grads leaving the state thing been happening for... a long time? Or is there reason to think this has accelerated? I would think our metros are becoming more and more attractive as midwestern hubs, at least.
 

IACub

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Iowans are pretty pragmatic. The further left the dems go the less likely they are to win iowa back.

I believe dems will wise to this over the next 6 years or so and Iowa will swing back, as it always has.
How can you say out of one side of your face without acknowledging how apeshit the GOP has gone? They aren't recognizable as the party with which I once identified (when I was admittedly too young to know any better.) You may not agree with the Democratic party's principals, but at least they have some. I honestly can't even tell you what the GOP stands for anymore other than quashing anything gay, unfettered gun rights, and whining about how being white and Christian is just so dang hard these days.
 

MitchLL

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Hasn't the educated college grads leaving the state thing been happening for... a long time? Or is there reason to think this has accelerated? I would think our metros are becoming more and more attractive as midwestern hubs, at least.
I think so, but from personal experience of knowing this happens, when college grads leave the State, it's an easier decision for parents and relatives to leave as well since no family remains.

Education funding cuts, or inadequate funding, also drives others away.
 

Colonoscopy

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“Forever” is like two years now. That’s how quickly the mood changes.
That's a consideration I always have. What if we're just hyper aware of everything as it happens -- due to the information age -- and therefor constantly freak out over everything. (that we wouldn't have in yesteryear)
 

onlyTheObvious

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That's a consideration I always have. What if we're just hyper aware of everything as it happens -- due to the information age -- and therefor constantly freak out over everything. (that we wouldn't have in yesteryear)
Republicans were supposedly dead forever with Trump. 18 months later Biden and the entire party is on the ropes come November.

24/7 News is such a waste of what little time we all have. Go take a walk or ride a bike or enjoy a beer/coffee with somebody you enjoy.
 

Huey Grey

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Can somebody explain to me how a party controlled by a billionaire from NY which also hates unions, guts unemployment, and generally craps all over working class people is suddenly raking in these voters?
 

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Can somebody explain to me how a party controlled by a billionaire from NY which also hates unions, guts unemployment, and generally craps all over working class people is suddenly raking in these voters?
Dubuque UAW members who swung to Trump didn’t do so because of his policy promises, though, Dan White, the former president of the union local, told me. Sure, they liked that he talked about keeping jobs in America, but mostly they really just appreciated the way he talked, and how he sounded like he was on their side. Fox News, talk radio, and social media helped reinforce that impression, Tom Townsend, the business manager of the local IBEW, told me. Many of his members have fully bought into the right’s portrayal of Democrats—that they’re all socialists who want to take their guns. They won’t listen when Townsend tries to tell them otherwise.
 
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Nole Lou

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How can you say out of one side of your face without acknowledging how apeshit the GOP has gone? They aren't recognizable as the party with which I once identified (when I was admittedly too young to know any better.) You may not agree with the Democratic party's principals, but at least they have some. I honestly can't even tell you what the GOP stands for anymore other than quashing anything gay, unfettered gun rights, and whining about how being white and Christian is just so dang hard these days.

Parties will get competitive in states that have trended away from competitiveness if either one decides to occupy the middle ground that they've both abandoned. Instead, both parties look at it as a license to move more extreme. There's a massive middle ground just waiting to be had.

But not to be facetious about your last statement, but 44% of households have a gun. 70% of adults identify as Christian. Obviously, not everyone in these groups identifies with the Republican party, but it's not like these are fringe segments who should just be dismissed out of hand when it comes to politicians appealing to them.

13% of Americans have student loans. 1% of Americans are trans. There's about a gazillion times more people that are victims of crime than are victims of unjust police violence, is it bizarre that people prioritize the thing that is more common to them?

What are the Democrats talking about for people who have health satisfactory health insurance, like guns, and go to church? What's the Democratic message to the great American middle?

I'm not saying that the Republicans are good or doing a good job, but people just love to dismiss massive swaths of the population's legitimate concerns and issues, because they consider them unworthy.

Democratic strategists keep sounding the warning that the Democrats can't win without middle America, and Democrats keep saying "Well fvck those people we don't want them."

The Republicans aren't giving them much...but they're giving those people that they won't take their guns, they're not going to have drag shows at the local library, they're going to keep boys playing boys sports, and they're not going to defund the police, and they're going to keep schools open in the next Covid wave.

You may not agree with those things, but there's no gain for Democrats in pretending its irrational.
 

ThorneStockton

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^^^And then people mock and make fun of them - or they're convinced the elites/Dems are doing these things - for liking those things about Trump and for having fully bought into the right's portrayal of Democrats

Which, according to the story is also a factor.
 

Colonoscopy

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Parties will get competitive in states that have trended away from competitiveness if either one decides to occupy the middle ground that they've both abandoned. Instead, both parties look at it as a license to move more extreme. There's a massive middle ground just waiting to be had.

But not to be facetious about your last statement, but 44% of households have a gun. 70% of adults identify as Christian. Obviously, not everyone in these groups identifies with the Republican party, but it's not like these are fringe segments who should just be dismissed out of hand when it comes to politicians appealing to them.

13% of Americans have student loans. 1% of Americans are trans. There's about a gazillion times more people that are victims of crime than are victims of unjust police violence, is it bizarre that people prioritize the thing that is more common to them?

What are the Democrats talking about for people who have health satisfactory health insurance, like guns, and go to church? What's the Democratic message to the great American middle?

I'm not saying that the Republicans are good or doing a good job, but people just love to dismiss massive swaths of the population's legitimate concerns and issues, because they consider them unworthy.

Democratic strategists keep sounding the warning that the Democrats can't win without middle America, and Democrats keep saying "Well fvck those people we don't want them."

The Republicans aren't giving them much...but they're giving those people that they won't take their guns, they're not going to have drag shows at the local library, they're going to keep boys playing boys sports, and they're not going to defund the police, and they're going to keep schools open in the next Covid wave.

You may not agree with those things, but there's no gain for Democrats in pretending its irrational.

Repubs benefit from a culture war approach to politics and have done a good job controlling the narrative and exploiting this reality. By their nature niche "change" issues on the left are going to be less popular and more controversial. Their task is to somehow take back the narrative a bit and push some of those change issues to the backburner where topical focus is concerned.

Basically, distance themselves from the far/activist left a bit and find some uniting focus politically. Bernie had that... hopefully some others figure it out.
 

ThorneStockton

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Parties will get competitive in states that have trended away from competitiveness if either one decides to occupy the middle ground that they've both abandoned. Instead, both parties look at it as a license to move more extreme. There's a massive middle ground just waiting to be had.

But not to be facetious about your last statement, but 44% of households have a gun. 70% of adults identify as Christian. Obviously, not everyone in these groups identifies with the Republican party, but it's not like these are fringe segments who should just be dismissed out of hand when it comes to politicians appealing to them.

13% of Americans have student loans. 1% of Americans are trans. There's about a gazillion times more people that are victims of crime than are victims of unjust police violence, is it bizarre that people prioritize the thing that is more common to them?

What are the Democrats talking about for people who have health satisfactory health insurance, like guns, and go to church? What's the Democratic message to the great American middle?

I'm not saying that the Republicans are good or doing a good job, but people just love to dismiss massive swaths of the population's legitimate concerns and issues, because they consider them unworthy.

Democratic strategists keep sounding the warning that the Democrats can't win without middle America, and Democrats keep saying "Well fvck those people we don't want them."

The Republicans aren't giving them much...but they're giving those people that they won't take their guns, they're not going to have drag shows at the local library, they're going to keep boys playing boys sports, and they're not going to defund the police, and they're going to keep schools open in the next Covid wave.

You may not agree with those things, but there's no gain for Democrats in pretending its irrational.

I disagree with your characterization that the Republicans aren't giving them much. Republicans have fed their base new and recycled grievances, resentments, conspiracies' and anger. They've given their base people to hate and groups to blame.

That group of 1% of the population that you identified, why not hammer them? They're only 1% and it's a lot easier than trying to actually work on a meaningful issue.

Lose an election? Stolen by illegals who are replacing you, and all sorts of wild theories.

Don't like something in the news? It's fake news. By the lying MSM, that is in the bag for the libs.

Say something and there are consequences? You're the victim of cancelation by the woke mob of libs.

Kids learn that some white people weren't so perfect with their treatment of black people years ago? CRT!!!!!!!!!! Ban it.

Higher education? Those are liberal indoctrination centers.

Gun violence? I'll give Republicans credit here for the most part, at least they have the decency to offer thoughts and prayers rather than taking Alex Jones style conspiracies to the mainstream.

Read the comments around here and you'd think Joe Biden is simultaneously bed ridden with dementia while also personally seeing to every decision to make their lives, the country and world worse.

Republicans have given people plenty, certainly not much in terms of meaningful legislation, but that's not what everyone is looking for, a lot of people just want someone to blame for things.
 

IACub

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113
Iowa City, IA
Parties will get competitive in states that have trended away from competitiveness if either one decides to occupy the middle ground that they've both abandoned. Instead, both parties look at it as a license to move more extreme. There's a massive middle ground just waiting to be had.

But not to be facetious about your last statement, but 44% of households have a gun. 70% of adults identify as Christian. Obviously, not everyone in these groups identifies with the Republican party, but it's not like these are fringe segments who should just be dismissed out of hand when it comes to politicians appealing to them.

13% of Americans have student loans. 1% of Americans are trans. There's about a gazillion times more people that are victims of crime than are victims of unjust police violence, is it bizarre that people prioritize the thing that is more common to them?

What are the Democrats talking about for people who have health satisfactory health insurance, like guns, and go to church? What's the Democratic message to the great American middle?

I'm not saying that the Republicans are good or doing a good job, but people just love to dismiss massive swaths of the population's legitimate concerns and issues, because they consider them unworthy.

Democratic strategists keep sounding the warning that the Democrats can't win without middle America, and Democrats keep saying "Well fvck those people we don't want them."

The Republicans aren't giving them much...but they're giving those people that they won't take their guns, they're not going to have drag shows at the local library, they're going to keep boys playing boys sports, and they're not going to defund the police, and they're going to keep schools open in the next Covid wave.

You may not agree with those things, but there's no gain for Democrats in pretending its irrational.
Well said.
 

IACub

HR Legend
Sep 25, 2009
22,325
31,680
113
Iowa City, IA
I disagree with your characterization that the Republicans aren't giving them much. Republicans have fed their base new and recycled grievances, resentments, conspiracies' and anger. They've given their base people to hate and groups to blame.

That group of 1% of the population that you identified, why not hammer them? They're only 1% and it's a lot easier than trying to actually work on a meaningful issue.

Lose an election? Stolen by illegals who are replacing you, and all sorts of wild theories.

Don't like something in the news? It's fake news. By the lying MSM, that is in the bag for the libs.

Say something and there are consequences? You're the victim of cancelation by the woke mob of libs.

Kids learn that some white people weren't so perfect with their treatment of black people years ago? CRT!!!!!!!!!! Ban it.

Higher education? Those are liberal indoctrination centers.

Gun violence? I'll give Republicans credit here for the most part, at least they have the decency to offer thoughts and prayers rather than taking Alex Jones style conspiracies to the mainstream.

Read the comments around here and you'd think Joe Biden is simultaneously bed ridden with dementia while also personally seeing to every decision to make their lives, the country and world worse.

Republicans have given people plenty, certainly not much in terms of meaningful legislation, but that's not what everyone is looking for, a lot of people just want someone to blame for things.
Also well said.
 

HawkRCID

HR All-American
Nov 7, 2018
3,797
6,962
113
Yep, this state is long gone….becoming Mississippi North more and more every year.
 

thewop

HR Legend
Gold Member
Jun 27, 2002
17,065
14,080
113
How can you say out of one side of your face without acknowledging how apeshit the GOP has gone? They aren't recognizable as the party with which I once identified (when I was admittedly too young to know any better.) You may not agree with the Democratic party's principals, but at least they have some. I honestly can't even tell you what the GOP stands for anymore other than quashing anything gay, unfettered gun rights, and whining about how being white and Christian is just so dang hard these days.
None of the GOP stances you mention will damage the economy, cause inflation, or bar someone from being employed because they refused to put something in their body.

They're easy to look past when they're mostly just opinions that have little to no consequence or connection to reality. Identity politics makes a nice story on MSNBC but doesn't matter to a voter who prioritizes policy over keeping up appearances. Nor do Identity politics stereotypes play out consistently in real life when you talk to real people.

Also, when it comes to voting in local elections, candidates vary from their party views, so you can't simply say 'well they have an R by their name so they're a homophobe' or 'they have a D by their name so they're in favor of killing babies after they're born.'

My state of VA was exactly the opposite, where nobody thought it would ever be red again. However, while dems continued to beat the Identity politics drum, people didn't like the direction of our education system or the treatment of parents in schools. They were tired of being locked down for Covid and didn't want vaccine and mask mandates. Dems lost on policy, after they'd won for years on Identity politics.
 

Rifler

HR Legend
Jan 26, 2011
23,675
18,351
113
No it hasn’t. The Republicans lie and tell them it has. Republicans are nowhere near pro-worker and haven’t been for 40 years.

It's not about the Democrat position on work.. It's positions that the party extremists have adopted on multiple other topics that the slightly more conservative mid western Democrat doesn't understand, or accept,... Democrats are experiencing their own Tea Party moment.
 

eb05

HR All-State
Feb 5, 2002
962
2,617
93
Texas
admittedly i don’t know much about iowa politics but nationally it seems like much of the working class has been conned into voting based on culture wars that only exist on tv and the internet.
 

Old_wrestling_fan

HR Legend
Mar 2, 2009
10,716
10,393
113
Iowa City
“Forever” is like two years now. That’s how quickly the mood changes.
True. ^^ Things run in cycles and because there are humans involved with both parties...there will always be plenty of screw ups to drive people back over to the other side. :)

I do agree with whomever suggested the impact of 24 hour "news" as being a part of the shifting. People are so much more dialed in to politics these days than say 20+ years ago. It's part of their identity now in many cases.

The extremes of both parties carry much more sway these days than in the past too. I think this is also related to the 24 hour "news" stations and also social media. These entities survive on "clicks"...what better way to get "clicks" than to highlight the extremes and inplame emotions?

Why do we hear about Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert or AOC, Rashida Tlaib so much? On one level, their contributions are marginal...but they do seem to excite the "other side" and as such, depending on the channel, they are strongly featured...because it works.

Can anyone name a middle of the road guy or gal that is in Congress, and not from your state, that is just plugging along and trying to move things forward? Much tougher...because those more normal people just don't get the headlines like the outliers do.
 

Old_wrestling_fan

HR Legend
Mar 2, 2009
10,716
10,393
113
Iowa City
Republicans were supposedly dead forever with Trump. 18 months later Biden and the entire party is on the ropes come November.

24/7 News is such a waste of what little time we all have. Go take a walk or ride a bike or enjoy a beer/coffee with somebody you enjoy.
Even before Trump was on the scene, I remember watching MSN and hearing how the "Republican Party is dead", etc. I think this was after Obama's first POTUS win. Whenever it was...it was quite a while ago.

If you have 24 hours a day to fill...people just jabber about whatever to get you to tune back in again.
 

Old_wrestling_fan

HR Legend
Mar 2, 2009
10,716
10,393
113
Iowa City
Parties will get competitive in states that have trended away from competitiveness if either one decides to occupy the middle ground that they've both abandoned. Instead, both parties look at it as a license to move more extreme. There's a massive middle ground just waiting to be had.

But not to be facetious about your last statement, but 44% of households have a gun. 70% of adults identify as Christian. Obviously, not everyone in these groups identifies with the Republican party, but it's not like these are fringe segments who should just be dismissed out of hand when it comes to politicians appealing to them.

13% of Americans have student loans. 1% of Americans are trans. There's about a gazillion times more people that are victims of crime than are victims of unjust police violence, is it bizarre that people prioritize the thing that is more common to them?

What are the Democrats talking about for people who have health satisfactory health insurance, like guns, and go to church? What's the Democratic message to the great American middle?

I'm not saying that the Republicans are good or doing a good job, but people just love to dismiss massive swaths of the population's legitimate concerns and issues, because they consider them unworthy.

Democratic strategists keep sounding the warning that the Democrats can't win without middle America, and Democrats keep saying "Well fvck those people we don't want them."

The Republicans aren't giving them much...but they're giving those people that they won't take their guns, they're not going to have drag shows at the local library, they're going to keep boys playing boys sports, and they're not going to defund the police, and they're going to keep schools open in the next Covid wave.

You may not agree with those things, but there's no gain for Democrats in pretending its irrational.
KA-BOOM. Truth bomb!
 

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