The Democratic Party’s attempt to pivot away from the fading Russia controversy, and move to an economic message as a way to reclaim their lost voters, has so far failed to drum up enthusiasm — even among Democrats.
The Democrats rolled out “A Better Deal” last week —a nod to the “New Deal” of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and also a possible swipe at President Trump’s reputation as a world-class deal-maker.
Striking a populist tone, the Democrats have sought to push their economic plan — which includes infrastructure spending, lowering health care and education costs, and cracking down on what they call “the concentration of economic power” — as a way to reach out to white working class voters that cost Hillary Clinton vital states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania in November.
“Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there,” Schumer admitted in an op-ed for the New York Times.
But while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the plan was still in formation, and they intended to listen to the American people on how best to refine it, they may still have a lot of work to do.
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday found that only 16 percent of respondents had heard of the plan, with 54 percent admitting they hadn’t heard of it. The numbers didn’t get much better with Democrats. While 33 percent were favorable, 59 percent of Democrats hadn’t heard of the much-vaunted rollout by their own party.
It hasn’t even caught on among Democratic lawmakers, with some lawmakers telling Politico that they aren’t impressed with their leadership’s new rollout. Blue Dog Democrats, in particular, have avoided aligning themselves with the national rollout.
“Just as there isn’t one kind of Democrat, there [is] not just one kind of message that works,” said California Rep. Jim Costa, a Blue Dog Coalition co-chair. “One size doesn’t fit all. We have an economically diverse country.”
“We agree on the broader goal of creating economic prosperity for the American people,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told the outlet that while she thinks what the leadership is doing is “really good,” she also said: I’m not focused on national Democratic slogans as much as I am on what’s going on at people’s kitchen tables at home.”
Meanwhile, the rollout looks as if it may upset some of the Democrats’ minority constituencies, who may feel left out by the new focus:
“The platform doesn’t address racism and its role in limiting economic opportunity for people of color who make up 46 percent of the Democratic Party’s base,” Aimee Allison of Democracy in Color wrote in the Hill.
“Some will say that the Democrats’ platform as it stands is a move in a positive direction in clarifying the party’s commitments to working people but although the content of the new platform is necessary, it is not sufficient,” she said.