Chris White, DCNF
Democrats are concerned Sen. Elizabeth Warren might not appeal to independents or blue-collar workers living in the Rust Belt states that voted for President Donald Trump.
Some within the party worry the Massachusetts Democrat will struggle to win back centrists who abandoned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. Warren has tasseled with Trump on immigration over the past few months, but that might not be enough, according to one report from The Hill.
“I just can’t see a blue-collar, Rust Belt guy voting for her,” one Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns told The Hill Tuesday. “I think the party needs to be realistic about that.” The skepticism possibly stems from Democrats fears that Trump has voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan on lock down.
Trump is the first Republican to win both states in a presidential election since 1988 and the first to win Wisconsin since President Reagan in 1984. His broadly populist message resonated with voters in those states in a way they haven’t for Democrats in previous years.
Democrats won’t be able to retake the White House in 2020 if they lose those states. Strategists also believe elements within traditional Democratic circles see her as too liberal to defeat Trump. Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist, said he’s not sure Warren could woo independents.
“Democrats are certainly motivated on issues like [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] separating children and the potential for the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, but are independents that upset?” said Smikle, who worked for Clinton during his time with New York’s Democratic Party.
“They may not like Trump’s tactics, but they may, to some extent, like the ultimate outcome if it helps to stem the tide on undocumented workers,” he added. Recent poll numbers on public opinion related to immigration appear to validate at least some of Smikle’s concerns.
Polls consistently show Democrats and Republicans share broadly the same view about how to move forward on illegal immigration: illegal border-crossers should return to their place of origin.
A Harvard-Harris poll Monday, for instance, showed a substantial majority of voters said illegal border-crossers and the children who accompany them should be returned to their home countries. More than 84 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of independents favored hiring more immigration judges “to process people in custody faster.”
Democrats’ advantage over Republicans in the generic ballot has continued to tumble throughout 2018. Their advantage dipped from a 10-point advantage they had heading into June to just four points in June, according to a June 7 NBC News poll. That poll also showed 50 percent of registered voters wanting a Democratic-controlled Congress.
Gun control has also affected the Democratic advantage since January, The Washington Post noted in an April poll. The gap between support for the two parties in House races narrowed considerably since the gun control debate became a raging issue after the Florida school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February.
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