Sunday, September 10, 2023


On Thursday, David Brooks wrote:
America has had a net gain of 530,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2017. The manufacturing boom has been torrid of late. Since late 2021, investment in the construction of manufacturing facilities has more than doubled.

Much of that boom is happening in the Mountain West, the Upper Midwest and parts of the Southeast. Chips, electric vehicles, renewable energy sources and batteries are being manufactured in places like Michigan, Kentucky, Minnesota and Arizona.

... Since 2011, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, wage growth has “accelerated more for high school graduates than for college graduates.”

... According to the Treasury Department, over 80 percent of the investment made through the Inflation Reduction Act is going to counties with college graduation rates lower than the national average. Nearly 90 percent of investments are being made in counties with below-average weekly wages.
Joe Biden's campaign and his top super PAC are touting the president's pro-blue-collar policies in early ads:
The most-aired of the two new Future Forward USA Action ads that debuted Friday is a spot highlighting Biden’s economic record. “Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Act are keeping jobs in America and bringing jobs back to America,” says a man wearing an IBEW T-shirt and IDed on screen as “James C.”
I can't embed the ad, but here's James C.:

But will people who look like James C. respond to Biden's advertising? I keep thinking about a New York Times story I read in 2016:
ELKHART, Ind. — Seven years ago President Obama came to this northern Indiana city, where unemployment was heading past 20 percent, for his first trip as president. Ed Neufeldt, the jobless man picked to introduce him, afterward donned three green rubber bracelets, each to be removed in turn as joblessness fell to 5 percent in the county, the state and the nation.

It took years — in 2012, Mr. Neufeldt lamented to a local reporter that he might wear his wristbands “to my casket” — but by last year they had all come off. Elkhart’s unemployment rate, at 3.8 percent, is among the country’s lowest, so low that employers here in the self-described R.V. capital of the world are advertising elsewhere for workers, offering sign-up bonuses, even hiring from a local homeless shelter.

... Yet where is Mr. Neufeldt leaning in this presidential election year? ... he is considering Donald J. Trump.

“I like the way he just won’t take nothing off of nobody,” Mr. Neufeldt said....

Few people here are thanking [Obama] for their recovery....

Instead, it is Mr. Trump who is making the impression.... Recently a high school basketball game west of here drew national attention after students hoisted Trump signs and taunted “Build that wall!” at fans from the rival, heavily Latino school.
Obama lost Elkhart County in 2008, but it wasn't a blowout: John McCain got 55% of the vote, while Obama won 44%. Then in 2012 it was Mitt Romney 62%, Obama 36%. In 2016, after that big drop in unemployment under Obama, it was Trump 64%, Hillary Clinton 32%. Biden did better in 2020, but not by much: Trump 63%, Biden 35%.

Early Biden ads have a lot of blue-collar imagery, but the focus isn't always on white male workers. One ad focuses on a female cement mason, another on Hispanic workers, another on the slightly bro-ish owner of a manufacturing firm:

Maybe the first two of those ads will reach a more receptive audience than the ads aimed at blue-collar white guys. Maybe college-educated voters will find the owner relatable. But overall, I question whether this is a worthwhile effort.

I know that Biden's people don't expect to turn predominantly white blue-collar towns blue -- they just want to peel off a few votes here and there, hoping it adds up in swing states. But I think their money would be better spent focusing on the liberal and moderately liberal base. Early Biden ads also focus on abortion, the climate, healthcare costs, and GOP policies favoring the wealthy. That's good. Biden needs to motivate the people who can help him get reelected during the campaign. He needs to inspire Black voters, suburban women, young people, and liberal-leaning retirees. I think he'll get more out of ads aimed at them than he will from ads aimed at white laborers who'll never vote for him.

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