To take a page from James Carville, “It’s the culture, stupid.” Read between the lines of Greenberg’s report, and it’s clear he recognizes his prescription that Democrats emulate Bernie Sanders on economic issues has limited pull with most Trump supporters. He quotes extensively from voters whose economic interests may align with Democrats, but who also express a panoply of anxieties over a changing American culture. Worries about terrorism, concerns that immigrants aren’t integrating into American society, and complaints about worsening race relations all dominate the focus-group conversations—including among people who backed Obama in the past.
Obamacare is still widely disliked, even among working-class voters who stood to benefit. There’s been a rising chorus of Democrats who believe that President Obama’s health care law is growing in popularity, including among working-class Trump supporters. A Democratic survey (which I cited in my last column) showed a sizable majority of Obama-Trump voters supporting Obamacare. But the reactions from these Trump-backing swing voters should pour some cold water on that belief.
Many participants in the focus group shared some horror story about their health insurance as a consequence of Obama’s health care law, citing concrete examples of how the law was a net negative for them. “Nearly every person in our groups was struggling with how to afford their plans, co-pays, and medications,” Greenberg wrote. He added that these voters don’t have an alternative in mind, but they’re convinced the law needs to be changed—and have enough faith in Trump that he’s up to the task.