A.B. in the News

Gov. Steve Bullock Outlines How Democrats Can Win Back Rural America

Today, in a new op-ed from the New York TimesAmerican Bridge 21st Century Co-Chair Gov. Steve Bullock outlined how Democrats can win back rural voters in key swing states by framing, “our policies, not in terms of grand ideological narratives, but around the material concerns of voters.

According to Gov. Bullock, Democrats’ core message has been lost on rural Americans who see the party infighting and have come to the conclusion that “Democrats are not focused on helping them.” Without shifting our message to address these concerns and without showing up and listening to rural voters, our struggle to reach these people “could doom the Party in 2022.”

Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, American Bridge 21st Century knew it was imperative to lose by less in rural counties. We developed a program to reach these voters by using neighbors as messengers to bring them back over to the Democratic Party. 

The paid media program in MichiganWisconsin, and Pennsylvania was incredibly successful, helping Biden receive 750,000 more votes in rural areas in those three states when compared to 2016.

In the 2022 midterm elections, American Bridge is once again targeting voters in rural America as a part of its $100 million paid media campaign. Additionally, it has launched Bridge Together, a new initiative sponsoring grassroots activists who organize year-round engagement efforts in rural parts of the country. 

The New York TimesDemocrats Are in Trouble in Rural America. But There’s a Way Out.

By: Gov. Steve Bullock | December 03, 2021

Key Points:

  • “I take no joy in sounding the alarm, but I do so as a proud Democrat who has won three statewide races in a rural, red state — the Democrats are in trouble in rural America, and their struggles there could doom the party in 2022.”
  • “The core problem is a familiar one — Democrats are out of touch with the needs of the ordinary voter. In 2021, voters watched Congress debate for  months the cost of an infrastructure bill while holding a social spending bill hostage. Both measures contain policies that address the challenges Americans across the country face.”
  • “Yet, to anyone outside the Beltway, the infighting and procedural brinkmanship hasn’t done a lick to meet their needs at a moment of health challenges, inflation and economic struggles. You had Democrats fighting Democrats, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and desperately needed progress was delayed. It’s no wonder rural voters think Democrats are not focused on helping them.”
  • “Get out of the cities and you will learn we have a libertarian streak, with a healthy distrust of government. We listen when folks talk about opportunity and fairness, not entitlements. We expect government to play a role in our having a fair shot at a better life, not solve all our problems.”
  • “We need to frame our policies, not in terms of grand ideological narratives, but around the material concerns of voters. Despite our differences and no matter where we live, we generally all want the same things: a decent job, a safe place to call home, good schools, clean air and water, and the promise of a better life for our kids and grandkids.”
  • “It’s time for Democrats to get uncomfortable and go beyond friendly urban and suburban settings to hear directly from folks in small towns who are trying to run a business, pay the bills, and maintain access to health care. They have stories to tell and ideas to share, and we should listen.”

Read the full op-ed here

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