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Tags: white house | rural | voters | wealth | gap | democrats | votes

WH Fact Sheet Lays Out Goals to Address Wealth in Rural US

the red states and blue states of the 2020 presidential electoral college map
The 2020 Electoral College map. (Karen Foley/Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 March 2022 07:41 PM EST

The White House released a fact sheet along with excerpts from President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address Tuesday night.  And the remarks focus on a perceived wealth gap between the rural U.S. and the cities, which Democrats have dominated politically.

"President Biden is committed to ensuring that rural Americans have the opportunity to succeed — and that they can find that opportunity in rural America," the fact sheet read. "This commitment is not just vital for rural Americans, but vital for the country as a whole. For centuries, rural Americans have driven the country's economic growth and provided the country and the world with food and fuel — and they continue to do so today.

"They are small business owners revitalizing Main Streets. They care for our land, ensuring that all Americans have access to nature and recreation."

Democrats have long struggled to win elections and votes in rural areas, with critics assailing their focus on more urban and coastal areas.

A majority of rural voters (65%) view the Democratic Party negatively, including 48% strongly, and just 29% view Democrats favorably, according to the Morning Consult Poll last month.

Barack Obama won just 875 of 3,006 counties nationwide (29%) in his 2008 presidential victory. Twelve years later, Biden won only 527 of 3,006 counties (17.5%). The vast majority of the counties lost — 260 of 348 — were rural counties, according to data compiled by The Associated Press.

"The hatred for Democrats is just unbelievable," said Tim Holohan, an accountant based in rural McKean County, Pennsylvania — Biden's birth state — who recently encouraged his daughter to get rid of a pro-Biden bumper sticker. "I feel like we're on the run."

The worst losses were concentrated in the Midwest: 21 rural counties in Michigan flipped from Obama in 2008 to Trump in 2020; Democrats lost 28 rural counties in Minnesota, 32 in Wisconsin and a whopping 45 in Iowa. At the same time, recent Republican voter registration gains in swing states such as Florida and North Carolina were fueled disproportionately by rural voters.

Now, the White House is launching an initiative, the aim of which is says is to give "federal resources" to those long-overlooked rural areas.

"In the year ahead, the Biden administration will partner with rural America to determine how best to invest these unprecedented federal resources to support local priorities," the fact sheet release read.

Among the bullet points in the initiative:

  • Lowering costs for working families in rural America.
  • Creating jobs in rural America and supporting rural-led economic development.
  • Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities.
  • Improving access to healthcare and lowering healthcare costs for rural communities.
  • Rebuilding rural America's infrastructure with a once-in-a-generation investment.
  • Strengthening the food system and creating market opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters.

Like Pennsylvania, Oregon has shown concern for its rural areas, as the Democrats who control the Oregon Legislature are proposing to give Republicans $100 million to spend essentially as they see fit in their rural districts.

Retiring Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., warns that Democrats are facing extinction in the naton's small towns.

"It's hard to sink lower than we are right now," Cooper told The Associated Press. "You're almost automatically a pariah in rural areas if you have a D after your name."

Even if Democrats continue to eke out victories by piling up urban and suburban votes, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., fears her party will have "unstable majorities" if they cannot stop the bleeding in rural areas.

"Democrats have the House, they have the Senate, the presidency, but it's an unstable majority," Heitkamp, who now heads the One Country Project, which is focused on engaging rural voters, told AP. "By that, I mean, the narrowest kind, making it difficult to advance ideas and build coalitions."

She criticized her party's go-to strategy for reaching rural voters: focusing on farmers and vowing to improve high-speed internet. At the same time, she said Democrats are hurting themselves by not speaking out more forcefully against far-left positions that alienate rural voters, such as the push to "defund the police."

While only a handful of Democrats in Congress support stripping such money from police departments, for example, conservative media popular in rural communities amplifies such positions.

"We're letting Republicans use the language of the far left to define the Democratic Party, and we can't do that," Heitkamp said. "The trend lines in rural America are very, very bad.

"Now, the brand is so toxic that people who are Democrats, the ones left, aren't fighting for the party."

To help win back rural voters, the Democratic National Committee has tapped Kylie Oversen, a former North Dakota state legislator, to work with rural organizers and state party rural caucuses as the chair of the national committee's rural council. The DNC also says it is sharing resources with people in rural areas to help improve training, recruiting and organizing.

Information from AP was used in this report.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The White House released a fact sheet along with excerpts from President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address Tuesday night with the goal of addressing the wealth gap between the rural U.S. and the cities, which Democrats have dominated politically.
white house, rural, voters, wealth, gap, democrats, votes, middle america
Tuesday, 01 March 2022 07:41 PM
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