Greenberg: Key actions to raise support with all working class voters and raise Democratic margins

To:        Democratic leaders and progressive allies

From:    Stanley Greenberg

Re:        Key actions to raise support with all working class voters and raise Democratic margins

President Biden no longer has an advantage over former President Trump on who delivers for “forgotten Americans” and Democrats have no advantage on who is better on “jobs and wages,” yet we know this middle class-blue collar message and transformative policy agenda changes all that.

Here are the key actions that deliver those changes:

  • Identify with the working class that predominates both in our base and persuasion targets. They live paycheck-to-paycheck, and they are frustrated that CEOs and big corporations call the shots and pay no taxes. (The working class are voters who do not have a four-year degree.)
  • Fight for the middle class, working families, small businesses, and vulnerable who work hard and check the power of the big corporations who are rigging the game and paying no taxes.
  • Make sure your agenda includes policies to help small businesses, and that you advocate for small businesses as integral to the working class, particularly with the white working class and Hispanics.
  • To get heard, both our base and targets need to hear Democrats want to bring major change on the economy and who has power. Right now, they don’t know Democrats are dissatisfied with the status quo. That means over-correcting.
  • Prioritize policies that help families financially: expanded Medicare, reduced drug prices, lower insurance premiums, and no Medicaid income cap for disabled; the new infrastructure projects; and the child tax credit and its middle class tax cut. But also, policies that shift power in the workplace and with government: require contractors pay $15 minimum wage, help employees get higher wages and enforce labor protections, and make sure big corporations pay a minimum tax. 
  • Do not change the focus on bringing change to the economy and power in our diverse base. While racial equity is important to Black voters, it falls well below getting higher wages, labor protections and lower health care costs. While Hispanics and Asian Americans support a path to citizenship, the racial equities agenda is near the bottom of their priority list. Motivating and consolidating them will focus on health care costs, big corporations paying taxes, labor protections and infrastructure jobs.
  • Remember, both our base (Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Gen Z and millennials, and unmarried women) and our new working class targets (white working class under 50 years of age, white parents, and disabled) think the middle class is endangered, the top 1 percent and CEOs control politicians and want them to pay higher taxes. Our base and white working class targets want a very similar policy agenda from Democrats.
  • The child tax credit received on a monthly basis is changing the 2022 political dynamics will now be central to the campaign contrast. It is embraced by both Black voters and white working class voters under 50 years, as well as white parents, and they become more supportive when it is attacked. The CTC has opened up parts of the white working class to the idea Democrats use government to help them. Whether its repeal raises your taxes or drive millions of kids into poverty have become the top attacks on Republicans.
  • Attack Republicans for trickle-down tax cuts that were supposed to benefit those living paycheck to paycheck but benefited only the rich, and for repealing the biggest tax cut for the middle class, the child tax credit.
  • Democrats will want to pose a choice between the Democrats’ empowering agenda and taxing big corporations and Republicans fighting for the big corporations, raising your health care costs and taxes, and throwing millions of kids into poverty.
  • Voters with disabilities and their families are overrepresented in the working class and white working class, and they need to become integral to your strategy. They are listening to the policy offer. We are currently offering expanded Medicare, lower drug costs and premiums, but it gets more support with all voters when it includes ending Medicaid’s income caps for the disabled.
  • Democrats must advocate visibly for funding and respecting the police, not defunding them, along with reforms and accountability. The gains in this survey are only realized for the ½ sample who hear Democrats prioritize security and crime and want to fund and reform the police. Defunding police is unpopular in the Black, Hispanic, and Asian American communities, and hearing the Democrat opposes defunding the police surprises white working class voters. It neutralizes what is the strongest attack on Democrats.
  • The middle class-blue collar message stated:

“People are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay their bills and taxes. They need government that looks out for the middle class, working families, small businesses, and the vulnerable who work hard. They need a government that jumps whenever the biggest corporations send money and lobbyists. My approach is blue collar. We should bend over backwards for those who work hard so we create jobs in America and grow the middle class.”

  • The message, transformative policies, attacks on Republicans, and reassurance on crime and funding the police produced big new targets. It raised the Democratic vote share and probably turnout with Gen Z and millennials. That was missing in Virginia. And it also produced big Democratic gains with the under 50 white working class, white working class women, and white disability families.

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