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Democrats see rural gains bolstering fight for White House by 2020

By James Oliphant WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats made dramatic gains in this month's U.S. congressional elections despite getting little love…

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats made dramatic gains in this month’s U.S. congressional elections despite getting little love from white, rural, working-class voters who backed President Donald Trump for two years ago.

But the party is convinced that it made important inroads in rural America – an argument supported by a Reuters analysis of election results .

Democratic sources cite wins in places like upstate New York, Iowa, Maine and Pennsylvania as evidence the party has found a populist platform that connects with those voters and could help it retake the White House by 2020.

The message , geworteld in gezondheidszorg en economische inequaliteit, werd ondersteund door onderzoek uit democratische groepen zoals het Huis Majority PAC en het Centrum voor American Progress, een liberale denk tank. They argued the party could reach working-class voters by focusing on economic opportunity for those without college degrees.

“We took a deep dive into their motivations and concerns to shape democratic messaging and find a way back,” said Jeb Fain, a spokesman for House Majority PAC, who ran television ads for candidates in Maine and New York.

As or Tuesday, Democrats had captured 36 seats in the House of Representatives, building a majority that will enable them to thwart Trump’s agenda and launch investigations into his administration. Republicans retained a majority in the Senate.

Beyond the victories, Democrats increased their share of the vote in dozens of the country’s most rural congressional districts, a Reuters analysis shows.

Compared to 2016 election results, they posted gains in at least 54 districts where the share of households in rural areas was at least 39 percent, or twice the national average, even though they only won a handful of the districts.

That could bode well for Democratic efforts to win the White House and retake the Senate by 2020.

In Beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with their combined 46 electoral votes, by less than 1 percentage point, or by a total of about 80,000 votes. 19659012] Priorities USA, a deep-pocketed Democratic advocacy group, plans to target Trump voters in the Midwest in 2020 who said they voted for a Democrat this year.

“Det er nok nok til å gjøre forskjellen,” sier Guy Cecil, gruppens formand.

Ifølge den gruppens interne forskning, tror det at det kan overtale mellem 15 og 30 procent af dem som vælger at støtte den demokratiske præsidentkandidat. ] Democratic officials were encouraged by the election of Democratic governors Tony Evers in Wisconsin and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Senator Amy Klobuchar’s victory in Minnesota, another state with a large rural population.

Whitmer, who emphasized fixing the state’s roads, won nine counties that went for Trump in 2016. Klobuchar, who may run for president, won more than 40 counties in Minnesota that supported Trump over Clinton.

Still, the road to Democrats’ new house majority ran mostly through cities and suburbs, while Republicans held on to the vast majority of rural districts they were defending.

Democrats lost two tight House races in Minnesota in largely rural districts and the governo r’s race in Iowa, reaffirming Republicans’ edge in those regions.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on John McCain’s presidential campaign, said Trump voters who backed a Democrat in 2018 could easily return to Trump by 2020. [19659019] “People want a check on the president,” O’Connell said. “These voters are very open to flipping back.”


Democrats say they will try to prevent that with new investments and organization in places they had once surrendered as unwinnable.

Officials at the Democratic National Committee say after Democrat Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, the party became preoccupied with defending the so-called battlefields at the expense of the rest of the country , cut it off from huge swaths of voters.

Tom Perez, chairman of the DNC, said the turnaround began last year with the surprise win by Doug Jones in an Alabama Special Senate election – the first time a Democrat had won a Se nate race in Alabama since 1992 – followed by Democrat Conor Lamb’s successful run earlier this year for a House seat in a rural Pennsylvania district long held by Republicans.

These victories spurred greater investment in places such as Maine, where the party focused on the rural congressional district won last week at Jared Golden, and Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams lost but ran a surprisingly competitive governor’s race.

Lamb’s victory provided a playbook for other rural Democrats such as Golden, Anthony Brindisi in upstate New York, and Richard Ojeda, who ran an underdog campaign in deeply rural West Virginia that drew national attention.

Although Ojeda ultimately lost, he generated the biggest pro-democrat swing in the country for a House District from 2016 – boosting the Democrats’ share of the vote by 20 percentage points in one of the nation’s most ardently pro-trump regions.

The candidates encompassed some rights rights to avoid alien ating rural voters, while advocating a working-class populism that argued the booming U.S. Economics were not benefiting their regions.

Like Democrats in congressional races nationwide, they supported coverage for preexisting medical conditions. The opioid epidemic was a prominent issue, dovetailing with voters’ concerns about a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“People of this district have historically elected moderates,” Brindisi told Reuters. “They want someone who will actively listen to their concerns and work with both sides in Congress to get something done.”

Perez also pointed to Betho O’Rourke’s Senate praying in Texas as a model for Democrats running in rural areas. O’Rourke campaigned in every county in the state and lost to Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, at less than 3 percentage points.

There remains a question of whether Democrats can, or will, adapt their rural strategies to the upcoming presidential nomination battle, which is expected to draw more than a dozen candidates.

Much will depend on whether a moderate or liberal candidate emerges from the fight – or whether the party, as it did in several key house races, finds a balance between the two.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Jason Lange; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown)

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