SPOTLIGHT

Pew’s Deep Dive Reveals More Challenges for Democrats

WASHINGTON - APRIL 25: U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK) talks with the news media after a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at his office on Capitol Hill April 25, 2007 in Washington, DC. Gonzales made no comments to the news media after the meeting but Pryor said that he told the attorney general that it would be best if he resigned as the top law enforcement official. 
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Alex Roarty
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Alex Roarty
June 27, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

Pew’s polit­ic­al ty­po­logy study al­ways of­fers a com­pre­hens­ive look at at­ti­tudes to­ward both parties — and this year is no ex­cep­tion. But while the res­ults of­fer the most clues about the long-term dir­ec­tion of the coun­try’s polit­ics, it also tells us some im­port­ant things about the 2014 midterm elec­tion.

- Demo­crats look­ing for a break from the glut of pess­im­ist­ic news about the up­com­ing elec­tion won’t find it here. The sur­vey finds that out­side of their hardened lib­er­al base, sup­port for the party and Pres­id­ent Obama has dropped pre­cip­it­ously and across-the-board since 2012. The drop-off is most acute among a group Pew calls “Hard-Pressed Skep­tics,” which is older, whiter, and more down­trod­den than the av­er­age Demo­crat. They over­whelm­ingly backed Obama in 2012, 65 per­cent to to 25 per­cent, but now a plur­al­ity of them, 48 per­cent, dis­ap­prove of his per­form­ance.

- This is a vot­ing bloc Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bents in blue-col­lar states like Mark Pry­or, Mary Landrieu and Mark Be­gich must reach to win reelec­tion. They have some reas­on to think they can: Most Hard-Pressed Skep­tics think gov­ern­ment should do more to help the poor, and only one-quarter of them think the GOP cares about the middle class. With the right pop­u­list Demo­crat­ic agenda and a smart out­reach cam­paign, these voters could be per­suaded to re­join the Demo­crats. But do­ing so is still an up­hill fight at a time when Demo­crats already have enough prob­lems. 

- Of course, per­sua­sion is only half the battle. Demo­crats also need to make sure they show up to vote at all. The ty­po­logy study shows Hard-Press Skep­tics make up less than 10 per­cent of people who are polit­ic­ally en­gaged in Amer­ica. It shouldn’t sur­prise that among the three groups Pew iden­ti­fies as the most polit­ic­ally act­ive, two are Re­pub­lic­an while just one is Demo­crat­ic. A lot of Demo­crat­ic voters just aren’t that tuned in to elec­tions, which ex­plains the party’s tra­di­tion­al turnout prob­lems in midterms.

Take a long look at the study — it’s worth your time. Just know if you’re a Demo­crat, you won’t find much reas­on for op­tim­ism.
Alex Roarty

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