Alex Roarty, McClatchy, July 28, 2017
New internal Democratic data shows the party’s House candidates can win back the white working-class voters who strongly supported President Donald Trump last year.
But they have a lot of work ahead of them.
House Majority PAC, a super PAC allied with House Democrats, this week unveiled new research about the party’s most troublesome voter demographic, part of a years-long study the group has undertaken.
The data, per one party strategist involved in the project, was “sobering”: White voters without a college degree still view Trump relatively favorably, their opinion of Democrats is in the dumps, and they reject some of the party’s favored economic initiatives.
In a generic House ballot of these voters, Republicans lead Democrats by 10 points, 43 percent to 33 percent. (Twenty-four percent of them were undecided).
But Democratic strategists who produced the report say that amid the doom and gloom, they also see reasons for optimism.
The data showed that a significant chunk of the white working class would vote for Democratic candidates if they heard the right economic-focused message. In the poll, the generic ballot flipped — to 45 percent Democrat and 35 percent Republican — after voters heard positive things about Democrats and negative things about Republicans.
The poll that formed the basis for the report included 1,000 interviews of likely 2018 voters in targeted House districts, conducted from June 27 to July 13. The voters were white, older than 24, and the survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
The report comes amid promises from groups such as House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that House Democrats in next year’s midterm elections will compete in battleground districts heavily populated by white working-class voters.
And even as Trump’s approval rating sags overall, a majority — 52 percent — of white working-class voters approve of his job performance.
White working-class voters also favor the GOP over Democrats on nearly every metric, the poll found.
The only area where Democrats come out ahead is on health care — and even then, they best the GOP by just four points despite the deep unpopularity of the congressional Republicans’ health care plan.
Attacks on the GOP health care bill registered among the highest the study tested. Of the subset of voters the study identified as most persuadable, 74 percent said it made them “much less likely” to support a GOP candidate.
The Democrats’ best-testing positive messages included support for giving companies tax credits if they create good-paying jobs in America and investing in infrastructure. The study also argued that Democrats need to focus on something other than a college education, because many white working-class voters doubt the cost-effectiveness of higher education and prefer a blue-collar job anyway.