I probably should apologize for the cynical, condescending headline of this post. But employing a strategy that separates the moderately dumb from the willfully pigheaded ignoramuses turns out to be key to winning the country back.
A Politico post from 5 AM this morning tells us that Democratic group’s poll shows Trump vulnerable with his base on health care: American Bridge is planning a $50 million advertising campaign targeting small-town Trump supporters and swing voters:
American Bridge polled voters in small towns and rural areas, screening out self-identified liberal Democrats, to find out what they thought of the president. The group gave Trump a positive job approval rating overall, and it backed a generic Republican for Congress by 29 points over a generic Democrat. But the Republican-leaning pool of voters also gave Trump unfavorable ratings on several key issues, highlighting potential avenues of attack for American Bridge: 50 percent rated Trump negatively on “cutting taxes for people like me.”
Several health care questions were worse for the president. Just 25 percent of respondents gave Trump a positive rating for “reducing health care costs,” compared to 67 percent who rated him negatively, while they split against Trump 39-51 on “taking on the drug and pharmaceutical companies.”
The polling is “trying to unpack where Trump’s branding exists and where there might be openings to have a conversation with these voters about Trump in a way that makes them reconsider their loyalty or attachment to him,” said Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster with the firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research who is working on the project.
There is evidence from the 2018 midterms that, while Democrats have struggled mightily with rural voters in recent elections, there is an opening for improvement.
Voter-file analysis recently conducted by Catalist, the Democratic data firm, indicated that the party’s gains in 2018 House races were actually strongest in rural areas, not the suburban ones that got more media coverage, relative to the results of the 2016 presidential election. The gains “weren’t enough to get over 50 percent and win seats in many rural districts,” Catalist’s Yair Ghitza wrote — but winning a bigger share of the rural vote in key swing states in 2020 could put Democrats on a path back to the White House.