Fix your strategy, Democrats!


Everyone that knows me, knows I’m a Democrat. I have one thing to say to my party: get your act back together Democrats!

For over 60 years, the Democratic party dominated in manufacturing and farming counties. Union bastions along the Mississippi River were also simultaneously thought of as Democratic strongholds. We used to get up to 62% of the vote in most of these areas. 

We don’t win there much anymore. 

The Numbers:

Take Dubuque County, Iowa. Population: 99,226. This county relies heavily on John-Deere manufacturing and packing. Historically, a very Democratic county. Democrats enjoyed steady and overwhelming support in just about any kind of election you could think of. It hadn’t gone Republican in a Presidential year since 1956.

Then, Donald Trump did the unthinkable. In 2016, he won Dubuque by 1.22 percentage points, or 610 votes. It was believed by many, including myself, that Trump’s victory in Dubuque was only due to third parties. After all, he only received a 47.18 vote share. I believed Biden was in great shape not just to flip the county, but potentially take it by more than 5 points.

Wrong. Trump  didn’t just prevail again, he EXPANDED the margin, winning by 2.89 percentage points and taking 50.47% of the vote. 

In 2016, Trump flipped 32 counties that voted twice for Democratic President Barack Obama. This number includes well over a dozen that hadn’t gone Republican since Ronald Reagan in 1984, as well as two that hadn’t gone Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972. 

What the Politicians Say:

“We used to be able to count on the union vote here. Not anymore.” said former State Senator Jerry Kearns in an interview with AP.  

Kerns believes that the new labor force is younger and doesn’t realize what Democrats have accomplished for organized labor.

Democrats and organized labor have been partners for close to 90 years, but we need to stop taking it for granted. They donate money and vote for us, and we need to offer them more benefits and make it easier for them to unionize. The share of labor union members has collapsed to just 11% of the population.

The Solution:

Many of my fellow Democrats will hate hearing this, but the Electoral College is here to stay. We know that we can win the popular vote by over 7 million votes and nearly lose. A shift of just 124,502 votes in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would’ve been enough for Trump to win the 2020 election.

We can’t keep squeaking out elections like that. Donald Trump was one of the most unpopular Presidents in history. He had no qualifications at all. He presided over a recession, started and then lost a trade war with China, botched the COVID response, sided with dictators, incited insurrection, and got himself impeached. Twice. Yet it was still close.

Donald Trump spoke to these people. He made them feel wanted, needed, important. We need to do that again. No more trade deals, more door knocking, stronger protections for unions. The Democratic Party is, was, and always will be the party of working people. However, no one will believe that if we let Republicans define us.

About Union Voters 

Union voters were a key part of our base, but we’ve neglected them and gotten lost in a heap of identity politics. Issues like immigration, abortion and being politically correct deeply upset these voters. Trump was supposed to lose. We all ridiculed him for MONTHS as he went to factories in these socially conservative areas, ramped up rhetoric on these issues and said “Make America Great Again.” But we laughed at him for going for the base – yet he won! 

The inroads that Trump made into the industrial manufacturing base, previously a Democratic stronghold, are still revertabrating. It will be incredibly difficult to get most of those people back. However, this might take several decades, some might never come home to the Democrats again. 

It is important to note that Hillary Clinton won union households by 8 percentage points, and Biden expanded that advantage to 17 points. Biden won union households in Wisconsin and Michigan by wide margins, sealing those states to flip back. However, Trump narrowly won union households in Pennsylvania and absolutely crushed Biden among those voters in Ohio.

For every one singular soccer mom we flip to our side in an election, we lose about 20 union voters. How is that a good strategy? The Senate favors rural states, the battlegrounds in the house are almost entirely rural, and the states that decide the president: Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, etc. Rural. They have metro areas but the vast majority of them have rural areas that keep the state close. 


The Democratic Party needs to figure this out soon, because so many races in union heavy-states are at stake in the midterms. Senate races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa. Governor’s races in all of those plus Michigan and Minnesota. Dozens of vulnerable House Democrats. 

Start with the economic messages again, and do it NOW. Identity politics are a fickle thing. Most voters don’t want open borders. Most Americans also don’t want to hear about a million new genders, or how all their guns will be taken away. They want to know how we’ll make their lives better, and isn’t that what politics are all about? People that live in industrial areas are watching industry die before their eyes and if neither party will help them economically, they will pick the side that blames others for the problem. 


  1. Well I think we need to look at what has worked. Obama and Bill Clinton both campaigned almost exclusively on economics and it delivered landslide victories for the Dems. I also think that the Republicans are better at messaging. The Democrats do best on the economy, and we have 90 years to show off of us doing better. We let the GOP define us and that’s dangerous. I also think that attacking the Republicans should be well thought out. I truly think that if instead of calling Trump racist, sexist etc. (he is these things) and we had just called him rich and out of touch and dragged him like Obama did to Romney, we would’ve had more success.

  2. I agree with you on almost all of the topics in this article. However, I think if we (referring to Democrats as I’m very liberal) stop talking about abortion, gun control, etc then we also lose a large part of our identity. I think that without talking about the messy and uncomfortable issues, you can never truly solve an issue. I also hate to say this but I think what Republicans and MAGA vocalizers are doing really works and has a strong effect on their followers. From what I’m able to see, it seems as if Republicans target uneducated or miseducated folks, and then try to instill fear in them by talking about all the bad things Democrats will do for this country if they are elected, instead of all the (supposed) positive things Republicans are doing. Take the Budd V Beasley senate race in NC for example. Beasley’s ads talk about all the accomplishments she has been able to accomplish as North Carolina’s Cheif Justice while Budd’s ads are all about fear-mongering and showing all the terrible things Beasley has done in her career. Unfortunately, it seems the Republican strategy really works on quite a few people as they become essentially brainwashed. So I propose that instead of talking more about economics, and less about abortions and gun control, Democrats start pointing out all of the stupidity and morally wrong things that a majority of Republicans in both the house and senate do. Democrats need to stop being afraid of what the media might portray them as and they need to just call it how it is. We shouldn’t have to live a life of fear and hate because of Republicans’ constant lies. I really think if Democrats just pointed this out even a little more, it would have a profound effect on the political community.


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