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Biden must rally the forgotten to vanquish Trumpism

Biden must rally the forgotten to vanquish Trumpism
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Joe BidenJoe BidenPutin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting How the infrastructure bill can help close the digital divide Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE understands the severity of the economic crisis we’re in. He has a plan to provide immediate relief to working families and small businesses, create millions of new jobs and raise wages. 

In the closing days of the 2020 campaign, he must make sure every working American knows it so that he can win a decisive landslide on November 3 and thoroughly vanquish Trumpism to help our country recover from the last four years of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE’s tenure.

Biden has run a measured and disciplined campaign and appears to be on the verge of victory. He has sustained a modest but consistent polling lead over Trump across key battlegrounds including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Additionally, he is tied or within striking distance of Trump in numerous states Trump carried easily four years ago such as Arizona, Georgia, Iowa and Ohio. 

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Furthermore, he is banking a large Democratic lead in early voting. But Democrats do well to remember that the last presidential election was determined by late deciders: those who decided to vote for Trump and those who decided to stay home.

Many of the voters and non-voters who made Trump’s upset victory possible in 2016 were working class Americans who had become disaffected with the political and economic status quo and no longer closely identified with either political party. Over the past five years, we have surveyed tens of thousands of these voters and spoken with many in small group discussions across the country. Working people of different races and genders, in big cities and small towns, have told us the same thing: the economy is stacked against them while the government doesn’t do anything to improve their lives. Plus, they say politicians don’t care about them and, instead, only care about their wealthy campaign donors. Despite their differences, these voters share many of the same priorities — good jobs, better wages, lower healthcare costs, a secure retirement and a better future for their kids and grandkids — and the same skepticism about politics. 

Running as an outsider in the 2016 election, Trump mixed xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric with populist pledges to revive manufacturing jobs, protect Social Security and Medicare and ensure affordable health care for everyone. He assured voters his tax plan would help the middle class while costing him and billionaires like him “a fortune.” This break with Republican orthodoxy on economics helped propel him to the nomination and then the presidency, as he won a record margin among white voters without a college degree. Addressing the nation for the first time as president in his inaugural address, Trump declared victory for ordinary people over Washington’s elite. He promised that “the forgotten men and women of this country will be forgotten no longer.”

Today, the hollowness of this promise could hardly be more apparent. Trump’s presidency has been defined by seeming corruption and moves to enrich himself and his wealthy friends and campaign donors. He engineered a massive upward transfer of wealth through his tax cuts and has waged a relentless battle to strip health care from 21 million people. He has demonstrated indifference to a pandemic that has killed over 229,000 Americans and inflicted serious economic harm on millions and proven unwilling or unable to make a deal to deliver sustained meaningful economic assistance for those still struggling. 

But while Trump’s inaction on COVID-19 economic relief demonstrates his disinterest in helping the working class, it also exacerbates the deep frustration with politics that helped fuel his rise. Biden must now speak directly to struggling Americans who have once again been let down by Washington — and tell them very clearly and directly exactly what he will do to improve their lives. 

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While over 80 million people have already voted, college-educated white voters make up a disproportionate share of this group and millions of working class voters of all races have not yet cast ballots. They are a large, diverse constituency who will prove decisive not only in key battlegrounds like Pennsylvania but in states Biden needs to turn a narrow win into a crushing landslide. Among them are white women in rural Iowa who reluctantly backed Trump last time, younger Blacks and Black men in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, who stayed home, and newly registered Latinx voters in Laredo, Texas. If Biden can effectively connect with these voters and clearly communicate how his economic plan will improve their day-to-day lives, he can upend the electoral map, bring the U.S. Senate with him and help elect hundreds of down-ballot Democrats in swing states.

The forgotten men and women of this country need a legitimate champion. To win the White House and build a Democratic Party that can sustain Congressional majorities and compete everywhere, Biden must be that champion.

Ben Tulchin is the president of Tulchin Research. Ben Krompak is the vice president of Tulchin Research. Both served as the pollsters for Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives MORE' 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.