The Atlantic magazine has offered a dire warning to Democrats that the lack of an economic message at this year’s national convention could lead to another presidential election defeat in the fall.
“The Democratic Party took a gamble by not delivering a more targeted economic message to working- and middle-class families,” argued Atlantic senior editor Ronald Brownstein, who called it the convention’s “blind spot.”
“Biden projected passion, energy, and solidity in remarks that more closely resembled a grave presidential address from the Oval Office than the typical raucous convention speech … But while it advanced Biden’s goals, the speech, as well as the convention itself, had a conspicuous blind spot,” Brownstein wrote. “The event did not deliver a concise critique of Trump’s economic record or offer a tight explanation of Biden’s plans to improve the economic circumstances of middle-class families.
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“Though Biden ran through an extended list of policy goals on issues including job creation and climate change during his address, he offered vanishingly little detail about how he would achieve them — though, in fact, he’s delivered a series of detailed speeches laying out his agenda.”
Brownstein then recalled the party’s gathering in Philadelphia in 2016, which he said also “emphasized the party’s embrace of diversity, the breadth of her coalition, and Trump’s deficiencies of character without delivering a clearly delineated economic agenda for working families.
“Those choices faced pointed second-guessing after Election Day, when Trump’s huge margins among non-college-educated white [sic] voters allowed him to dislodge the Rust Belt battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from the Democrats’ ‘blue wall’ and claim his narrow victory.”
According to Brownstein, this week’s unprecedented virtual convention focused on four themes: “empathetic and decent” portrayal of Biden, the “celebration of diversity” within the party, President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and the Republicans who are backing the Democratic candidate.
Those messages, Brownstein says a senior Biden adviser told him, “reflect the priorities of the party’s modern base, as the campaign sees it: young people (guns and climate), suburban women (guns and women’s rights), and people of color (racial justice and immigration).”
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“Yet unless Biden can win across a wide range of Sun Belt states, he’s unlikely to reach 270 Electoral College votes without improving at least somewhat among working-class white voters in the key Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” he wrote. “And analysts have long observed that many older Latino and African-American voters in particular are more motivated to turn out to the polls by concrete plans to improve their life than by broad promises of confronting discrimination.”
Brownstein concluded by claiming: “Even most Republicans agree that Trump, by this point, has almost no realistic pathway to winning the popular vote. But even most Democrats agree that he might still squeeze out an Electoral College majority by maximizing margins and turnout among his core group of older, rural, non-college-educated white [sic] voters in a few closely balanced states. If he does, Democrats may again rue the choice not to direct a more targeted economic appeal at the voters Trump is relying on most.”