The biggest challenge facing Democrats in 2010 after passing health care is getting the economy right – and this is even more important than health care. While economic growth is better than contraction and stagnation, it poses immense problems for progressives wanting the support of voters – starting with the growing gap between improving macro-level indicators and lagging micro-level ones, like job and wage growth. There is reason to believe – confirmed by this survey – that progressives are losing many blue collar and non-college voters as elites focus on “economic success.”
The second big and growing challenge is the gap between the hopes of the new progressive base voters who created a progressive majority in the country in the last four years – African-Americans and Latinos, young voters and unmarried women – and their own experiences in this economic crisis – loss of employment, wages and health care and cutbacks in state services. These voters are dominantly the “drop-off” voters – those who voted in the 2008 election but are not likely to in 2010. Democrats and progressive groups will have to craft an effective narrative – as the economy unfolds and these gaps potentially widen.