Is there a word for being really shocked and alarmed—and yet not at all surprised—by a new piece of information? Maybe something from German with, like, 80 letters, seven umlauts, and a couple Klingon-worthy expectorations?
I think sometimes we forget that not everyone in this country hangs on Ted Lieu’s or Adam Schiff’s every word, or regularly tunes in to White House press briefings to watch Jen Psaki devour the viscera (metaphorically, of course) of ill-prepared Fox News red shirts like Peter Doocy.
Millions of people just live their lives, blissfully ignorant of the minutiae that go into spending bills meant to benefit them directly. They got their Biden Bucks, but they don’t necessarily know whom to credit.
To wit: $300 monthly child tax credits will start landing in people’s bank accounts in July, and most people have already gotten their $1,400 stimulus payments. While this much-needed relief is the work of Joe Biden and congressional Democrats (exclusively Democrats, in fact), not everyone in rural America has grokked what the Democratic Party has done for them.
From The Washington Post:
A new poll of rural voters, commissioned by a super PAC that seeks to build support for Democrats in rural areas, underscores the point: It finds that a large percentage of rural voters in battleground states are not ascribing credit for stimulus payments to the Democratic Party.
The poll, which was conducted by YouGov for Rural Objective PAC, finds that only 50 percent of those rural voters associate “providing stimulus checks directly to families and workers” with the Democratic Party.Meanwhile, 32 percent of those rural voters associate this with the GOP, and another 11 percent associate it with neither party. That’s a total of 43 percent who don’t associate it with Democrats.
The poll was conducted in rural areas of nine 2022 Senate battlegrounds: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. And while Trump and Republicans did support stimulus payments last year, at the height of the pandemic-related economic crisis (as did Democrats, proving that our party supports helping people all the time, even when a president from the other party is poised to take credit), they balked when it came to the last round of payments—payments we should really be calling BIDEN BUCKS every chance we get.
“We’re not connecting with these voters, even if we have great policy,” J.D. Scholten, executive director of Rural Objective PAC, told the Post.
The poll also found that 68% of the rural voters surveyed supported the stimulus checks, but they’re not necessarily crediting Democrats.
The messaging problems don’t end there, of course. Despite a consistent push from Democrats to get rural areas outfitted with broadband—an initiative that’s strongly reflected in Biden’s infrastructure proposals—only 42% of rural voters associate broadband investments with Democrats, whereas 25% credit Republicans.
How can this be? Well, there are at least two big reasons for it.
First of all, because they have no shame nor honor, Republicans have been scrambling to take credit for Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which every single one of them voted against.
This has been going on ever since the relief package passed.
There’s this tweet …
… and this one …
There are so many more. Since Republicans are rarely punished by their “traditional values” voters for lying (which, to be fair, is a longstanding Republican tradition), it appears that they’re getting away with it.
Circling back to reasons why rural voters are crediting the GOP for the American Rescue Plan, people tend to underestimate exactly how much government help they actually get.
The problem may be that once people get a benefit, they often convince themselves to forget that government gave it to them, something political scientists have long documented. And so, if you want to change people’s perspective on government, you have to offer them benefits that are widely enjoyed and highly visible. And then you have to keep reminding them of what they got.
We need to keep reminding folks that Democrats are better for their pocketbooks—and that this advantage isn’t limited to stimulus payments and infrastructure proposals. The past several decades prove that Democratic presidents—and policies—are better for the economy than Republican presidents, no matter what measure you look at.
So why do so few people know this?
Of all the things I hated about Donald Trump, his repeated lies about passing VA Choice—which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2014—perhaps rankled me the most. But what else can you expect from a crass carnival barker?
But we have the truth on our side, so we better make some noise. Joe Biden may be doing a better job tooting his own horn than No-Drama Obama did, but it’s clear we’re not winning the messaging war as decisively as we need to. Or at all, really.
That must change if we’re ever going to convince rural voters to return to the Democratic fold. And while flipping red rural states seems like a tall order, well, flipping Georgia once seemed impossible, too. But Stacey Abrams et al. got that done through hard work, planning, and determination.
If we can convince enough rural voters in purple states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona that Democrats are the ones who are actually on their side, maybe we can keep those states in the blue column for the foreseeable future.
Joe Biden’s policies are popular. We just have to make sure everyone knows they’re Democratic policies, or we’ll eventually cede control to a passel of lying scoundrels who want to spend the rest of their lives pissing on the heads of their constituents … while telling them it’s Trump Champagne.
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