Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Tim Meads.
President Joe Biden, for all his daftness, understands something that twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton never learned: The white working-class vote is crucial for winning the Electoral College.
Tuesday night, the president made it known during his State of the Union address that he intends to win back non-college-educated white voters who have either stayed on the sidelines or flipped their support to the GOP thanks to former President Donald J. Trump's 2016 run.
"My economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten,"
Biden said in D.C. during the SOTU. "Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they're invisible."
Undoubtedly, he was speaking to voters in largely white, rust belt states who have watched their jobs be shipped overseas by the millions since the late 1980s.
It's not the first time in recent weeks that Biden has referenced such voters. At the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, Biden lamented, "Those of you who were over 40, did you ever think we'd be in a situation where blue-collar workers would vote Republican?"
The president continued, "Because they think we forgot them. They think we don't care. They're coming back, but they - that's what they thought. When those jobs left, a lot were left out and left behind. A lot of them came to believe we stopped paying attention to working-class the way we used to. A lot of them came to believe that the Democratic Party stopped caring about them."
Indeed, Biden is correct that the demographic feels forgotten by the Democratic Party - and for good reason.
Under President Barack Obama, they were told there was no "magic wand" that would bring back manufacturing jobs. The Democratic Party's 2016 candidate didn't even listen to her own husband's warning that she needed to focus more on white, working-class voters in states like Wisconsin. She didn't even step foot in the badger state, and in turn, Trump swept the rust belt.
But it wasn't just animosity toward Clinton that drove those voters.
Trump's 2016 message focused in large part on bringing back blue-collar jobs and addressing the plight of those in places such as Appalachia and beyond who watched their livelihoods and way of life be decimated due to policies in Washington, D.C.
Trump was rewarded by focusing on the "forgotten man"
and promising to address their needs in D.C. Most politicians had catered their messaging to minorities, the middle class, and corporations. They still do. Trump was the first candidate in quite some time to tailor a specific message to white, non-college-educated voters.
As reported by Pew, "Two-thirds (67%) of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, resulting in a 39-point advantage for Trump among this group."
When focused on white working-class men, the numbers were even worse. Just 23% of that voting bloc supported the Democratic nominee.
While non-college-educated white voters supported Republicans in the past two cycles, Trump's 2016 margins were dominant.
"In 2012 and 2008, non-college whites also preferred the Republican over the Democratic candidate but by less one-sided margins (61%-36% and 58%-40%, respectively),"
Then, it seemed as if Trump took that support for granted in the 2020 election. His campaign and administration instead focused on appealing to minorities and believed that the key to winning was increasing their support amongst minorities. So, he rolled out things such as criminal justice reform, the platinum plan, and commercials in Spanish.
To be clear, reaching into new communities for support isn't necessarily a bad strategy. The particulars of how Trump did so can be debated, but who can fault somebody for wanting to bring more Americans of all stripes into the GOP?
Yet, some critics believe he did so without giving proper attention to his most ardent supporters. Meanwhile, Biden on the 2020 campaign trail made inroads with non-educated white voters, which sliced away support for Trump.
"As soon as he got inaugurated, he forgot the forgotten man,"
Biden said in Pittsburgh in September 2020. That sort of rhetoric was commonplace throughout - but was largely ignored by both mainstream media and conservative critics. The Right criticized Biden as a woke socialist. Legacy media praised him for his diversity and inclusion.
The anecdotal evidence points to the fact that speeches like those were effective. In turn, Biden won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Trump improved with every demographic except for white men. As pointed out by Newsweek, that "reflected an overall loss with not college-educated white voters, down from 67 percent of the vote to 64 percent."
Biden, however, was able to improve on Clinton's anemic support amongst that same section of the population.
"Biden won because he won back Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania,"
a columnist in Havard Business Review observed. "The percentage of white working-class men voting Democratic increased from 23% in 2016 to 28% in 2020, while among white working-class women, support for Democrats increased from 34% to 36%."
Biden's strategy for 2024, it seems, is not to win that group outright - that's a tall task. Rather, it's to chip away just enough of those voters while maintaining his 2020 support.
Per The New York Times, Democrats' support for that strategy has been buoyed by Senator John Fetterman's (D-PA) success in the 2022 election.
Fetterman, too, focused on places and towns overlooked by Washington's elite. Here's a sampling of this sort of commercial his campaign was running throughout The Keystone State, titled "Forgotten Places."
Fetterman outperformed Biden in every single county - including those dominated by the working class.
While Democratic policies won't actually help those Americans, Fetterman and Biden know they still need to be addressed. That's why the president mentioned them in his speech this week.
That means that whoever the 2024 GOP nominee is also has to cater their platform to address those concerns. Winning the margins in the Rust Belt with non-college-educated white voters could guarantee victory for the Republican nominee.
The views expressed in this piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.