Senate Democrat: Party's message to rural voters is 'really flawed'

Senate Democrat: Party's message to rural voters is 'really flawed'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters MORE (D-Mont.) warned that Democrats must improve their message to rural voters noting that party members need to give the demographic a reason to vote for them. 

During an interview with The New York Times, Tester called the Democrats' strategy with rural voters “really, really flawed."

“I think showing up is a fundamental rule of politics, and I don’t know that we showed up. Because of Covid, we didn’t show up on the campaign trail,” Tester said in reference to down-ballot 2020 races, including Montana’s Senate race, where Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockDark money group spent 0M on voter turnout in 2020 In Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line 65 former governors, mayors back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D) lost to Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesHillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two Senate Judiciary Committee to debate key antitrust bill Overnight Defense & National Security — No punishments in botched Kabul drone strike MORE (R).

ADVERTISEMENT

“And in a state like Montana, you have to give people a reason to vote for you or they’ll vote Republican — they’ll default to Republican. And I think that hurt us greatly in 2020,” Tester added.

Tester argued the party could strengthen its performance in rural areas by emphasizing its infrastructure policies, particularly in relation to broadband expansion.

“And then I would say one other policy issue is how some Republicans want to basically privatize public education,” he said. "That is very dangerous, and I think it’s a point that people don’t want to see their public schools close down in Montana.”

Tester conceded Trump “has an appeal in rural America,” but added that there are deeper issues with the Democrats’ messaging there.

“[T]he truth is that rural people connect more with a millionaire from New York City than they do with the Democrats that are in national positions,” he said. “So that tells me our message is really, really flawed, because I certainly don’t see it that way.”

The newspaper noted that former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE won some rural areas by more than 20 points in comparison to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE this year. Tester responded by pointing to Obama spending the Fourth of July in 2008 in Butte, Mont.

“He showed up. Now, he didn’t win much in it, but he did a hell of a lot better than people thought he was going to do because he showed up,” Tester said.