Biden’s victory holds a huge warning to rural democrats in the United States

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Democrats once ruled Koochiching County in northern Minnesota, in the Blue-Collar Iron Valley. But in this month’s presidential election, President Donald Trump won with 60% of the vote.

That’s not because voters there are suddenly shifting to the right, ”said Tom Bakk, who represents the area in the state senate. This is because, he said, Democrats have consistently moved too far to the left for many rural voters.

“We need to see if we can moderate the Democratic Party and accept the fact that rural Minnesota is not becoming more conservative,” said Bakk, who announced last week that he would become independent after spending 25 years as a Democrat. . . – You guys leave them.

While Democrats carried out the recapture of the White House through cities and suburbs, the party slid backwards in the huge rural troops on the northern battlefields. The party lost its House of Representatives seats in the Midwest, and Democratic challengers in Iowa, Kansas, Montana, and North Carolina Senate races — once considered a serious threat to Republican offices — have fallen, some hard.

Although the Democrats ’rural woes are not new, they are now putting pressure on Biden to begin to reverse the trend. Failure to do so will jeopardize goals such as curbing climate change and winning a majority in the Senate, especially with the GOP Senate in 2022 in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“The pressure on Democrats should be to send an economic message to the Americas,” said Iowa Democrat John Norris, a former prime ministerial candidate. “We have a great broadcast, but we haven’t put enough emphasis on it.”

This has become a defining dynamic in almost every state where Democrats dominate urban areas and have a clear momentum in the suburbs until at least two elections.

While Trump tried to squeeze more out of his mostly white, working base, he spread little space in places he barely won or lost in 2016 and slipped through the industrial and agricultural north in the suburbs. Instead, he has focused on places where he has won big in the past.

Trump lost to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania after winning all three in 2016. But in 126 counties in the three countries, it won at least 60% of the vote – 14 more than in 2016, according to the Associated Press and state elections. Each of these counties was sparsely populated.

Perhaps more eloquently, Trump has increased its winning rate in 90% of County, where it reached the 60% mark in these three states four years ago. This includes all 24 counties where he last won at least 70% of the vote, even when Biden significantly outperformed Trump in advertising.

The rural escape was even greater in Iowa and Ohio, where polls at the end of October gave Biden’s campaign hopes of a close race or a narrow victory to then lose them by the same margin as Clinton.

Trump’s greater dominance in the Ohio countryside surprised even Republican strategists. In Ohio’s 6th Congressional District in 18 counties that span the Pennsylvania border and the Ohio River, Trump improved from 64% of the vote to more than 66%.

“First, I’m saying I doubted President Trump could go beyond what he did in 2016,” said Ryan Steubenrauch, senior adviser to Bill Johnson’s 6th District Republican.

While Biden has accomplished the Democrats ’long-awaited goal of wearing Georgia and Arizona relatively tight, it didn’t because it focused on reaching beyond their subway hubs, said Steve Jarding, a Democratic veteran strategist who has long argued for greater party commitment to the countryside. areas. America.

“Democrats have found a way to win in the country, at least they believe that’s the case, by not concentrating very much on much of the middle of the country,” he said. – That’s a scary suggestion.

Jarding fears that by winning the Arizona, Georgia, and northern swing states without addressing the rural economy, Democrats might believe that the states are now making progress as a result of favorable population and demographic shifts.

“We didn’t win Georgia because we had a big message for rural Georgians,” said Jarding, who helped Mark Warner win the Virginia governorate in 2001 by advising him to campaign aggressively from the thriving Washington DC suburbs. “If the Democrats say, look, we got into Georgia and we won that we didn’t have to talk about rural issues, they’re dead dead. He will turn back.

Insisting on most of them, the House Democrats lost rural places, namely the one that Representative Collin Peterson held in western Minnesota for 30 years. Because of the failures, the moderates have accused the party’s prominent liberals, such as Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, a New York MP, from becoming a foreign party to American agricultural and small manufacturing cities.

“I claim everyone is talking about the big tent. Not as big as it used to be. Said Bakk, Minnesota.

Biden personally campaigned little, even less in the countryside. Trump, on the other hand, sparked enthusiasm for rallies in places like Wausau, Wisconsin, the northern part of the state where he dominated, and Saginaw in Central Michigan, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, surrounded by counties that are over 70% and even 80%.

Democrats also spent little time and money on countering Trump’s attacks.

Trump’s response that Biden and other Democrats are proponents of socialism and the abolition of police departments, no matter how unfounded, has resonated in small towns, according to VoteCast, a survey of American voters by the Associated Press conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

“We actually have to deal with this more aggressively,” said veteran Democrat strategist James Carville, especially Trump claims Democrats are anti-police. – There was a serious headwind.

Democrats must not only defend themselves against attacks, but must recruit more candidates among rural Americans and argue that progressive politics is to their advantage.

“Obviously, we have a brand problem in the Americas,” said former North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp, ​​a Democrat defeated in 2018. “But if you want to be an alternative, you can’t go there empty-handed.”

Heitkamp credits Biden for including particularly rural provisions in his policy plans, such as a transportation component in his health proposal, given that many people in sparsely populated areas have to travel a distance to see a doctor.

For now, the future of Democrats in the Americas largely depends on how they look at Biden there, Heitkamp said.

“A good way to get started would be to talk about the American countryside in your inaugural speech and the state of the union,” he said.