It’s no surprise the Democratic Party is out of touch with Middle America. Their reliance on winning national elections off the backs of liberals living on the coasts and in big cities (forgoing rural voters) has long been the norm. However, given their shocking loss last November, party leaders may be finally realizing they have a problem.
For reference, here is what the 2016 election looked like, county-by-county.
As you can see, the Democratic Party has a huge issue connecting with “flyover country” voters. This didn’t appear to be a problem for them during the Obama years – but now that the GOP controls all the levers of power in Washington and the vast majority of gubernatorial seats and state legislatures – Democrats are admitting they need to do something if they want a shot at the driver’s seat again.
That is why they have now created a brand new position: Chair of Heartland Engagement. Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos is the premier chairwoman.
In a statement, Bustos was blunt in describing what her party has to do if they want to start winning again. “The heartland is critical to winning back the majority, and we must do a better job listening to the hardworking families from small towns and rural communities if we hope to earn their support.”
Given the makeup of Rep. Bustos’ district, it’s no surprise Democratic leaders have chosen her to make inroads with rural voters. Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, encompassing the northwestern part of the state, voted for Donald Trump in the last election – the first Republican to do so since George W. Bush. Her district is a prime example of the voters Democrats have lost.
“Cheri is a key member of our leadership team, and her efforts to help recruit and mentor candidates and carry our economic message is critical to our strategy this cycle,” stated New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is the current chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Her colleagues are hopeful she can change their demographic woes.
It’s doubtful if the newly created position will actually help Democrats win in red areas. The rural/urban divide has long been a mainstay in American politics, and as much as Republicans struggle to win minority and inner city voters, progressives just can’t seem to relate to the daily problems of Middle America. Gone are the days when Bill Clinton won in places like Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky and other Southern/Mid-Western states. The Democratic Party of today is likely at its lowest point after watching their “blue wall” shattered last election cycle.
Messaging will be hard when attempting to reach these people. Liberal media clearly shows a disdain for the white working-class voters that have left the Democratic Party in droves. Donald Trump, using his amazing ability to connect with the average Joe, has been able to capitalize off their shortcomings.
Rep. Bustos bit off a ton of responsibility with her new position, but it’s unlikely she’ll be able to chew it all.