Saturday, November 04, 2017


Politico says that Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, isn't doing as well in the rural parts of the state as he'd hoped:
Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ralph Northam looked like the perfect candidate to help Democrats regain traction with rural voters after a disastrous 2016, with his Southern drawl, upbringing in the state’s rural Eastern Shore and military background.

But despite substantial efforts in the far reaches of the commonwealth increasingly ignored by Democrats, Northam appears to be coming up short of a big improvement, according to his own internal polling.

... the predominant issue may be that no Democrat, no matter their rural credentials, appeals to rural voters who have been turning away from the party for years....
It's not clear how poorly Northam's doing in rural Virginia. His polling says he's outperforming Hillary Clinton, though he's still losing badly:
Northam’s own internal polling in October showed Republican Ed Gillespie getting 49 percent to Northam’s 36 percent in the rural Bristol, Roanoke and Harrisonburg television markets — which President Donald Trump won 62 percent to 34 percent in 2016 (while losing Virginia to Hillary Clinton).
While Gillespie wasn’t hitting Trump's heights, a potential warning sign of his own, Northam's rural polling was little better than Clinton's final result in last year's presidential race — and below the levels President Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore reached in the previous four presidential elections, when they lost the region but still squeezed more votes out of it.
Here's the solution: make an ad in which Northam tries to look like a good ol' boy!
The Northam campaign released a television ad earlier this month designed to appeal to rural voters, featuring Northam working to restore a 1953 Oldsmobile and explaining that classic car restoration has been a hobby of his since high school.

“I'm from rural Virginia, and when I'm governor, you won't be forgotten,” Northam says in the 30-second spot.
Shocking, this hasn't turned everything around.

You know what voters don't care about? Candidates being similar to themselves. Please note who won 62 percent of the vote in those rural Virginia counties: Donald Trump. Did he grow up in rural America? Did he serve in the military? Does he restore 1953 Oldsmobiles on weekends?

And who's the most popular politician in America on our side? Bernie Sanders. He serves a rural state, but it's clear he's not a farmboy every time he opens his mouth.

It used to be an article of faith that Democrats couldn't win a presidential election unless the candidate was a white Southerner. Then a mixed-race guy from Chicago via Hawaii and Indonesia won two elections in a row. And before that, the blueblood Kennedys and FDR were widely admired by people, urban and rural, with far less money than they had.

Democrats aren't going to win elections by making demographic matches. In this race, Northam isn't an immigration hard-liner, and that's probably what's killing him in rural counties, because it's the Trump era. When your positions are anathema to one group of voters, you just have to turn out more voters on your own side -- that's all you can do. Your drawl isn't going to help you.

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