Sunday, June 16, 2024

Democrats aren't neglecting rural voters in Wisconsin, and it may be making a difference

The Washington Post reported a few days ago under the headline, "In Wisconsin, Biden tries to hold on to White voters without degrees." As if often the case in reporting and in our national imaginary, the white working class (here, those without college degrees) gets conflated with rurality.  This article discusses both.  Bottom line:  the Wisconsin Democratic Party is not neglecting rural America--and has set up offices in many nonmetropolitan counties, but Joe Biden is still focusing his attention on urban areas.  

Here are the excerpts with the word "rural" in them: 
Wisconsin Democrats attribute part of Biden’s relative strength with White voters without degrees to a rural progressive tradition that has faded but not disappeared — and part of it to tenacious organizing, including in rural areas where many of those voters live.
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Biden’s campaign is relying on an existing base of volunteers who know how to reach voters who might be willing to back him. Local Democrats send out 1,000 to 1,400 handwritten postcards each election to reach voters in rural areas whose doors are hard to knock on, Sandy Rindy said.
* * * *
Biden’s strategy: Out-organize Trump

Biden’s strategy for winning Wisconsin is built around state Democrats’ year-round, volunteer-run door-knocking operation. Most of Biden’s campaign offices are in counties Trump won in 2020 but where Biden outperformed given the underlying demographics.

Biden lost rural Lafayette County, where he has an office in tiny Darlington, by 14 points in 2020. But he ran 19 percent stronger there than one would expect based on the share of its population that is White and does not have a bachelor’s degree, according to a Post analysis.

“When you’ve got a Democratic Party office in a small town, it’s much easier to get people engaged,” said Tanya Bjork, a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign in Wisconsin who has worked on the past four presidential campaigns there. “And getting more people engaged means more doors and more phone calls and more conversations.”

Biden has campaigned in only one county Trump won in Wisconsin, and some Democrats grouse that they would like to see more of him in rural areas.

Tammy Baldwin wins, but she works the state,” said John Waelti, a retired economist who writes a column for the Monroe Times. “She always has hard hats and farmers in her photos. When Biden and [Vice President] Harris come, it’s Milwaukee and Madison.”

Most of Biden’s 11 trips to Wisconsin since taking office have been to Milwaukee or Madison, although he’s traveled twice to Superior, a city of about 26,000 in northern Wisconsin where the infrastructure law he signed is funding the rebuilding of the John A. Blatnik Bridge. 

“It’ll be up to their campaign to bring [accomplishments like the infrastructure law] from the macro level of visionary policy to benefit generations to come to the micro level,” she said. “What did it do in Green County?”
Baldwin said she has encouraged Biden to campaign across the state.

Rural resentment over neglect (perceived or real) was a theme first associated with Wisconsin after the 2016 election.  It was described in Kathy Cramer's book, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker

You'll find lots of related content here on the Legal Ruralism blog under the labels rural politics (446 posts) and rural vote (571 posts).  

Cross-posted to Legal Ruralism.

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