Progressive strategist says Dem candidates need to 'lean into economic populism'

Progressive strategist Adam Green said Tuesday that Democratic candidates must adopt a message of economic populism to appeal to more conservative voters in the future.

"I spent one of the best years of my life in South Dakota right after 9/11 working in a state that President [George W.] Bush had won by 20 points two years before," Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Committee, told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Juanita Tolliver on "Rising." 

"We won that year by 524 votes because culturally conservative farmers and ranchers — pro-gun, pro-life, culturally conservative Republicans were willing to vote for a Democrat when economic populism was front and center," he continued. "That year it was Social Security, protecting little guy family farmers from being taken over by big [agriculture]."

"So our point would be, especially in red and purple states, lean into economic populism, because you know what? Republican grandparents, possibly your grandparents, love their Social Security and Medicare as much as Democratic grandparents," he said. 

Green's comments come after Democratic candidates experienced various breakthroughs in traditionally Republican strongholds, despite losing their races.

"Let's just start with Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats' virtual convention: report O'Rourke on Texas reopening: 'Dangerous, dumb and weak' Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE. I don't think it's a disputable fact that they did better than any Democrat in recent years statewide ... in tough states," Green said, referring to progressive candidates in Florida's gubernatorial race, the race for Georgia governor and the contest for a Senate seat in Texas, respectively. 

Other Democratic candidates, including Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), easily won deep-blue districts with their messages of economic populism. 

Ocasio-Cortez unseated longtime incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in New York's 14th Congressional District's primary earlier this year. 

— Julia Manchester