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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Selling the Infrastructure Bill

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the impact of economic issues.

Sam Stein, Tina Sfondeles and Alex Thompson at Politico:
Democrats are embarking on an aggressive comms operation in hopes of selling the president’s recent legislative achievements and reverse his plummeting approval ratings.

But what if their approach is calibrated wrong?

That question is top of mind for a slew of party operatives as they watch President JOE BIDEN and his team go out and pitch the infrastructure bill that he signed into law on Monday and the social spending package that passed the House today. In particular, there is concern that a comms strategy that relies on paid TV advertising, earned media from district visits, and local and cable interviews won’t move the dial; that the White House, and Democrats more broadly, need to find ways to penetrate media ecosystems where their critics are defining the debate for them.

“We should bring our message to audiences that don’t already agree with us. Roads and bridges are for everyone,” said Rep. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Maloney, more than any other Democrat, has been pleading with Biden to do more press. And while he acknowledged that attempts to engage conservative media could prove frustratingly fruitless — “you’re assuming Fox’s more caustic hosts would invite us on to have a respectful policy discussion” — he said it’s worth trying. “There are plenty of folks over there who I’d sit down with,” said Maloney.

The debate over how much Democrats should engage Fox News and like-minded conservative press is a perennial in the party. There is a camp, led by liberal media watchdogs, who insist it is folly; that Democrats get slandered and distorted when they go on those airwaves and that the only outcome is the legitimization of that outlet as a respectable news source.

On the other side are operatives who argue that added engagement doesn’t legitimize those outlets, but neutralizes them. They point to the successes of politicians like Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (he did a Fox News town hall in 2020) on these platforms and the losses Democrats have had with rural and white working class voters and ask: How can we win them back if we’re not talking to them? Fox News garners both the largest conservative audience and independent audience too, according to Nielsen/MRI Fusion data.