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The Democratic Party Tent Is Too Big, Too Flabby And Too Amorphous



A NY Times headline yesterday: Democrats Struggle to Energize Their Base as Frustrations Mount. The Democratic establishment usually takes the base for granted, which is why they are struggling and frustrated. Had they raised the minimum wage and lowered the age of Medicare qualification and the cost of drugs, they wouldn't be struggling now. The Democrats spend too much time wooing Republicans in the suburbs and not enough time motivating and turning out actual Democrats in the cities. The party is a dysfunctional wreck because of all those years of:

  1. too big tent politics

  2. the corruption of the corporate money chase

The Times piece-- by Lisa Lerna, Astead Herndon, Nick Corasaniti and Jennifer Medina-- wrote that the party is alarmed "about sinking support among some of their most loyal voters, warning the White House and congressional leadership that they are falling short on campaign promises and leaving their base unsatisfied and unmotivated ahead of next year’s midterm elections... [S]ome Democrats are warning that many of the voters who put them in control of the federal government last year may see little incentive to return to the polls in the midterms-- reigniting a debate over electoral strategy that has been raging within the party since 2016."


Not enough attention has been paid to "expanding voting rights, enacting criminal justice reform, enshrining abortion rights, raising the federal minimum wage to $15, fixing a broken immigration system... Interviews with Democratic lawmakers, activists and officials in Washington and in key battleground states show a party deeply concerned about retaining its own supporters. Even as strategists and vulnerable incumbents from battleground districts worry about swing voters, others argue that the erosion of crucial segments of the party’s coalition could pose more of a threat in midterm elections that are widely believed to be stacked against it... [A] large percentage of frustration is with the Democratic Party itself... [AOC] warned that the party is at risk of 'breaking trust' with vital constituencies, including young people and people of color. 'There’s all this focus on Democrats deliver, Democrats deliver, but are they delivering on the things that people are asking for the most right now?' she said in an interview. 'In communities like mine, the issues that people are loudest and feel most passionately about are the ones that the party is speaking to the least.'"



And it was in communities like hers that gave Biden an 81.2 million to 74.2 million win over Trump last year and gave Democratic House candidates 77,529,619 aggregate votes over the Republicans' 72,760,036. I found this map yesterday on Digby's site. It shows the largest city won by Trump in each state. Look it over; it became clear quickly that Trump lost all the nation's big cities-- and not just in blue states. The only states where he won the biggest city-- defining "city" loosely-- were Wyoming (Cheyenne- pop. 65,035), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City- pop. 669,347), and Montana (Billings- pop. 117,116). Even in blood red states he won with ease, he lost the cities. Take West Virginia, one of the Trumpiest states in the union. He lost the 3 biggest cities and won the 4th biggest:

  • Charleston- 45,264

  • Huntington- 43,814

  • Morgantown- 30,153

  • Parkersburg- 28,612

Same in Alabama and Mississippi. Trump lost the 5 biggest cities in Alabama and won the 6th biggest, Hoover, which you likely never heard of. And he lost Mississippi's 2 biggest cities, Jackson (pop- 154,340) and Gulfport (pop- 71,573) and won the third biggest city, more a town than a city, Southaven (pop.- 57,382).

  • Birmingham- 207,235

  • Huntsville- 205,472

  • Montgomery- 197,777

  • Mobile- 186,542

  • Tuscaloosa- 103,007

  • Hoover- 86,270

Very few cities with over 100,000 people voted for Trump. He lost Boise, Idaho (pop- 229,993) and won the second biggest city, Meridian (129,555). He lost Fargo, North Dakota (125,804) and won Bismarck (74,129) and lost Sioux Falls, South Dakota (190,583) and won Rapid City (80,169), less than half the size. Look at Indiana, one of the most solidly red states in the Midwest-- Trump lost the 11th biggest cities and his win was in the 12th biggest:

  • Indianapolis- 887,232

  • Fort Wayne- 276,286

  • Evansville- 117,817

  • Carmel- 104,918

  • South Bend- 102,136

  • Fishers- 99,116

  • Bloomington- 86,987

  • Hammond- 74,812

  • Gary- 784,217

  • Lafayette- 70,697

  • Muncie- 67,767

  • Noblesville- 67,398

Similar story next door in Ohio, where all the cities anyone ever heard of went to Biden and where Trump wound up taking 7th biggest city, Parma, more a suburb of Cleveland than a city:

  • Columbus- 913,921

  • Cleveland- 376,599

  • Cincinnati- 307,266

  • Toledo- 268,609

  • Akron- 197,023

  • Dayton- 140,343

  • Parma- 77,065

And Pennsylvania was another one where the urban dwellers rejected Trump. Altoona is the 22nd biggest city in the state. Trump lost the 21 biggest and it was population 43,963 Altoona that voted for him.

Urban Florida and Texas were not Trump territories either. Hialeah is the 6th biggest city in Florida, the biggest city Trump won in his adopted home state:

  • Jacksonville- 929,647

  • Miami- 478,251

  • Tampa- 404,636

  • Orlando- 290,520

  • St. Petersburg- 267,121

  • Hialeah- 230,135

And all the big Texas cities went to Biden, It wasn't til Corpus Christi (#8) that Trump could claim a "big" Texas city:

  • Houston- 2,304,580

  • San Antonio- 1,434,625

  • Dallas- 1,304,379

  • Austin- 961,855

  • Ft Worth- 918,915

  • El Paso- 678,815

  • Arlington- 394,266

  • Corpus Christi- 317,863

In blue states it was a wipeout. The biggest city in Hawaii Trump won was Waianae (pop. 13,609), 24th biggest city in the state. All the New England states looked like that too. Trump's biggest city in Massachusetts was Dracut in Middlesex County, the 45th biggest city in the state with just 32,617 people. No one can call Wiliamstown, Vermont-- with 1,017 people-- a city, but it's the 43rd biggest populated space in Vermont and the biggest one that Trump won!


Even in Georgia, city dwellers were not interested in 4 more years of America's most blatant con man. Helost all 20 of the biggest cities and the biggest place he won was Newnan (pop. 45,087). If North Carolina Democrats paid more attention to their base, they'd probably win more victories. Trump lost the dozen biggest cities and his biggest win was Gastonia:

  • Charlotte- 912,096

  • Raleigh- 483,579

  • Greensboro- 301,094

  • Durham- 287,865

  • Winston-Salem- 250,765

  • Fayetteville- 213,475

  • Cary- 174,762

  • Wilmington- 126,000

  • High Point- 114,227

  • Concord- 100,639

  • Greenville- 94,822

  • Asheville- 93,350

  • Gastonia- 78,049

The two biggest cities in Washington are Seattle (737,015) and Spokane (228,989) and Trump lost both of them. The biggest city he won in Washington is a suburb of Spokane flush up against the Nazi region of Idaho, Spokane Valley, population 102,976, the 9th biggest city in the state


He lost the 2 biggest cities in Alaska-- Anchorage (282,958) and Juneau (31,848) and won the third biggest, Fairbanks (29,859)-- and lost the 3 biggest cities in Iowa-- Des Moines (210,723), Cedar Rapids (134,268) and Davenport (100,934) before winning the 4th biggest, Sioux City (83,193).


The divide over how much attention to devote to staunch Democratic constituencies versus moderate swing voters taps into a political debate that’s long roiled the party: Is it more important to energize the base or to persuade swing voters? And can Democrats do both things at once?
White House advisers argue that winning swing voters, particularly the suburban independents who play an outsize role in battleground districts, is what will keep Democrats in power-- or at least curb the scale of their midterm losses. They see the drop among core groups of Democrats as reflective of a challenging political moment-- rising inflation, the continued pandemic, uncertainty about schools-- rather than unhappiness with the administration’s priorities.
“It’s November of 2021, not September of 2022,” John Anzalone, Biden’s pollster, said. “If we pass Build Back Better, we have a great message going into the midterms, when the bell rings on Labor Day, about what we’ve done for people.”
Even pared back from the $3.5 trillion plan that Biden originally sought, the legislation that passed the House earlier this month offers proposals transforming child care, elder care, prescription drugs and financial aid for college, as well as making the largest investment ever to slow climate change. But some of the most popular policies will not be felt by voters until long after the midterm elections, nor will the impact of many of the infrastructure projects.
...[M]any activists say the White House is to blame for failing to aggressively push for the central promises made to their supporters during the campaign. They said they wanted Biden to leverage both his bully pulpit and executive powers to tackle student loans, criminal justice, immigration reform and other issues.
“We’re talking about democracy in such a crisis and here we are with very few legislative days left and the lack of urgency is deafening,” said Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, a minister and civil rights advocate who has helped lead the response from faith leaders on voting rights. “For the president to say he can only do one thing at a time is simply not true.”
Lorella Praeli, the president of Community Change Action, a group advocating immigration reform, offered a terse warning to the administration about keeping Latino support: “There are no participation trophies.”
Already, the national environment looks difficult for Democrats, who may lose seats in redistricting and face the historical trend of a president’s party losing seats during his first term in office.
Tomás Robles, the co-chair of Lucha, a Latino civil rights group based in Phoenix that is widely credited with helping Democrats win the state in 2020, said people were “disillusioned and unmotivated” by what they had seen in the first 10 months of Democratic governance.
“When you’re not passing bold progressive policies, you have to be able to show something,” Robles said. “President Biden gets the most blame because he’s the most visible, but it’s the party as a whole that has failed its voters.”
In Georgia, inaction on voting rights has fueled a steepening decline of enthusiasm for Biden among Black voters. The New Georgia Project, a progressive civil rights group, conducted a study last month of Black voters in Georgia, and found that 66 percent approved of the job Biden was doing, and 51 percent thought that his administration was working to address the concerns of the Black community. In 2020, Mr. Biden won more than 90 percent of Black voters in Georgia.
Representative Cori Bush, a progressive whose district includes large parts of St. Louis, said the social safety net and climate provisions included in the bill that passed the House could not be pared down any further. And, she added, the White House has to follow through on other provisions if Democrats want to excite Black voters-- perhaps the party’s most loyal constituency-- ahead of the midterm elections.
“Do I believe Black community members will be happy to see these investments? Absolutely. Will they feel like this has changed their lives in some ways? Yes,” Bush said. “But will this be enough to excite? When you’re excited, that means that you feel like something else is coming. You have hope that more is happening. So what’s next?”
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