Why Are Registered Democrats Hiding Their Affiliation?
Registered Democrats in rural areas are starting to hide their party affiliation for fear of pushback from neighbors, the Associated Press (AP) recently reported. The Democratic Party’s plummeting popularity, spurred by calls to defund the police, rampant rioting, and the Biden administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many typically Democratic areas to flip and leave the remaining Democrats in the local partisan minority.
Democratic Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee warned that the party could potentially disappear altogether in small towns across America.
“It’s hard to sink lower than we are right now. You’re almost automatically a pariah in rural areas if you have a D after your name,” he told the AP.
“The hatred for Democrats is just unbelievable,” Tim Holohan told the AP. He is an accountant in rural Pennsylvania. “I feel like we’re on the run.”
To help ensure her safety, he encouraged his daughter to remove her pro-Joe Biden bumper sticker. Other rural citizens remove their pro-Democrat yard signs at night to prevent theft and vandalism.
According to data compiled by the AP, Barack Obama won 875 counties nationwide in his 2008 presidential victory. 12 years later, Biden won just 527 counties. Most of his losses took place in rural counties. The worst ones took place in the Midwest, where 21 rural counties in Michigan flipped from Obama in 2008 to Trump in 2020; Democrats lost 28 rural counties in Minnesota, 32 in Wisconsin and 45 in Iowa. Simultaneously, Republican voter registration gains in swing states like Florida and North Carolina were driven largely by rural voters.
Despite many rural areas flipping red, Biden beat Trump in 2020 due to his gains in more populated Democratic counties. But even if Democrats continue to accrue victories driven by city voters, former Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota believes her party will have “unstable majorities” if they can’t stop the loss of rural votes.
“Democrats have the House, they have the Senate, the presidency, but it’s an unstable majority. By that, I mean, the narrowest kind, making it difficult to advance ideas and build coalitions,” Heitkamp told the AP. She now leads the One Country Project, focused on engaging rural voters.
Heitkamp said the Democratic party, which she is affiliated with, is using the wrong tactics to try and woo rural voters. They continually focus on farmers and promise to provide high-speed internet, but that isn’t enough to counteract far-left policies such as defunding the police.
Even though they’re losing ground in a geographical demographic where they arguably held a minority – or a slim majority at best – Democrats by and large don’t seem concerned with campaigning to sway more blue voters in rural areas. They still spend most of their energy, outreach, and resources to reach voters in more populated urban and suburban regions.
Rural America has always felt disadvantaged when it comes to policymaking due to low population numbers and remoteness to centers of government and decision making. But now, it looks like the dominant urban political party recognizes that rural voters are important. The upcoming midterm elections should provide some insight in how successful they have (or have not) been at securing more votes, rural and otherwise.