Politics and Elections: ‘Very Red and Very Angry’

Hillary Clinton’s $30 billion plan to help hard-hit coal counties doesn’t undo the feeling of white, blue-collar voters that the nation has abandoned them. And even though the contest in Iowa could be a “crucial test,” the electorate isn’t seeing much of the candidates.

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White working class voters are “fed up” with Democrats and are voting for Republican Donald Trump, write a trio of reporters with the Center for Public Integrity.

The reporters – Emily Mills, Jimmy Miller and Lian Bunny – find that continuing hard times in many blue-collar counties are turning voters to Trump. “The disenfranchised voter who has lost their job as a result of policies affecting the coal industry and other heavy manufacturing jobs are feeling very frustrated with Washington,” said Rex Repass, founder and CEO of Repass, a national public opinion research and strategic consulting firm. “Even though many are historically Democratic counties, they have become very red and very angry.”

The article is chock full of interviews with people in largely rural counties who remind us that the economic recovery has left out large portions of the country.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has promised to spend $30 billion over 10 years in mining counties to help local economies devastated by the decline in the demand for coal. But the New York Times reports that this promise is being met with skepticism.

Reporter Coral Davenport writes that the Clinton plan is being modeled on the tobacco buyout and redevelopment program from the 1990s. A court settlement between the states and tobacco companies set up funds to compensate those with cancer and lung disease and to help farmers and tobacco counties develop a new economy.

That program had decidedly mixed results in tobacco counties, Davenport reports. “We have great broadband, we’ve gotten some call centers. That’s helped us,” said Terry Kilgore, chairman of the Virginia’s Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “But it wasn’t enough to replace tobacco, and it’s not enough to replace coal.”

In coal counties, residents are skeptical that Clinton’s program will help.

The Wall Street Journal’s Reid Epstein writes that Iowa should be quite a contest this fall. It is the only state where President Obama won a majority among working class whites, the group that Trump has based his campaign. (The article is behind a paywall, or try this search to find a free link to the article.)

“Iowa is a bellwether,” Epstein writes. “If (Trump) can’t win in Iowa, it could signal that his populist message isn’t strong enough to win the White House.”

Meanwhile, he continues, “For Mrs. Clinton, failing to maintain Mr. Obama’s hold on white voters without college educations would be the latest sign that the Democratic Party has lost its hold on rural America in one of the few places where it still had appeal.”

It is of note that neither campaign is doing much in Iowa, which polls show at nearly a tie.  Trump has visited Iowa just three times since he won the state’s caucuses February 1. And Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine have come to Iowa just one time each.

“By this point in 2012, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had traversed the state on separate Iowa bus tours, stopping in a series of white working-class towns where they cut into Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s margins on Election Day,” Epstein writes.

Clinton has aired commercial in four Iowa TV markets and Trump hasn’t been on television at all.

Epstein continues: “Brad Anderson, who managed Mr. Obama’s 2012 campaign in Iowa, said Mrs. Clinton should be visiting small rural communities like Oskaloosa and Knoxville to sell herself to the working-class white voters who helped elect the president.”

 

Topics: Economy
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