Famed pollster says the left could see an exodus of working-class voters of all races in 2022 and cautions against relying on Obama for campaigns

Famed pollster says the left could see an exodus of working-class voters of all races in 2022 and cautions against relying on Obama for campaigns
President Joe Biden and United Auto Workers President Ray Curry participate in a tour of the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle plant in Detroit on November 17.Evan Vucci/AP
  • Stanley Greenberg warned of the Democratic Party's struggle to appeal to working-class voters of color.
  • He says there's "no room for error" in trying to reverse the erosion of support among these voters.

The Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg delivered a warning to his party on Monday, saying there's a possibility it's at risk of losing working-class voters of color.

"After studying working-class voters for nearly four decades, I believe the trajectory can be shifted or reversed. But there is no room for error. There is no room for fools," Greenberg wrote in the magazine American Prospect.

Greenberg also said Democrats' perceived strength was hurting the party, arguing against using high-profile campaign appearances by former President Barack Obama.

Obama's rallies "helped motivate Republican voters to vote but had disappointing results for Democrats," Greenberg wrote.

As a Yale academic, Greenberg documented the Democratic Party's waning support among white working-class voters in Michigan's Macomb County in the 1980s, coining the term "Reagan Democrats" to describe voters who backed John F. Kennedy in 1960 and then deserted the party, feeling it had abandoned them.


Donald Trump's gains among Latino voters in 2020, especially in South Florida, have deeply worried other Democratic officials. Greenberg argued that Trump's appeal to working-class voters of color was rooted in their distrust of Obama's handling of the financial crisis.

"They believed Obama's principal policy to rescue the economy was the bailout of the Wall Street banks that had 'played with our money,'" Greenberg wrote. "The Obama administration's failure to prosecute the banks' CEOs just confirmed the nexus between Wall Street and Washington."

Democrats are facing rough midterm elections. But Greenberg said the party could help itself if it touted some of President Joe Biden's economic agenda, which he said was popular in the "battleground states and districts" that will be closely watched in November.

"In our survey, respondents read the transformative policies in the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, and Build Back Better," Greenberg wrote. "They heard Democrats concerned about public safety, crime, and funding and reforming the police, not defunding them. And they heard Democrats embracing a blue-collar message and taxing big corporations."

Biden faces an enormously difficult task when it comes to passing his climate and spending plan known as Build Back Better. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told Insider recently that it was "dead," holding out the prospect of talks on smaller pieces of the plan. Manchin has also said the party needs to tackle other priorities like election reform first.