Thomas Phippen, DCNF
The Democratic Party’s national congressional campaign office commissioned internal research advising red district candidates to express a willingness to work with President Donald Trump.
“Candidates should feel comfortable taking on Trump to protect the district but must express a willingness to work with the President when his agenda might help the district,” polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research said in a memo to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Axios obtained.
Politicians, who are willing to work with the president, have credibility when they criticize Trump on other issues, but “blanket opposition to Trump closes the door for many voters in these districts and makes it difficult for a Democrat when they inevitably challenge him,” the memo said.
Since the 2016 election, many Democrats have been eager to pivot messaging toward aiding the middle class. Candidates should to move back to a more classic platform emphasizing economic opportunity and highlighting wealth disparity, the researchers advised. There’s plenty of room for a Democrat to do that successfully, according to the polling.
“Despite controlling Washington, Republicans do not currently get majority credit for the improving economy, and that must remain muddled,” the researchers said. The poll of more than 1,000 people in 52 congressional districts found a 58 percent of voters believe the economy is improving due to “long term trends and the work of American people,” while only 40 percent credit Trump and the Republicans.
One issue Democrats have struggled with on messaging is the tax cuts Congress passed in late 2017. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was criticized for regularly referring to the tax benefits as “crumbs,” but the DCCC’s research found there is still room to frame the tax cuts negatively.
The tax bill is more popular now than when first enacted, while it “is open to definition in a way that can drive down support” — particularly if Democrats can point out the “long-term costs that require cuts to Social Security and Medicare with higher taxes for the middle class down the road” or paint it as a giveaway to Wall Street, pharmaceutical companies and other corporations, CEOs and the wealthy.
Seeking to be part of a “blue wave” to control the House of Representatives this November, some Democratic candidates already absorbed the message of needing to show willingness to work with Republicans.
“I think we are at a point in our country’s history where it is courageous to come forward and break the party mold and reach out across party lines and actually get some things done,” Brendan Kelly, who recently won the Democratic primary for the 12th district of Illinois, told the Southern Illinoisan Monday. Kelly wants to see Pelosi removed as speaker if the Democrats retake the House, he added.
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