But instead of trying to win over the nearly 200,000 people who stayed home in Wisconsin in 2016 (or whose votes were suppressed), Biden has opted to center his Wisconsin campaign on about 700 people, some of whom may have never voted for a Democrat for president. Instead of focusing on the approximately 50,000 voters who stayed home in Democratic-leaning Michigan counties, Biden is touting the endorsement of Snyder, whose neglect threatened the wellbeing of thousands of Flint residents.

The Democratic party has embraced this message to a bizarre and troubling degree, often platforming Republicans who are barely popular with their own constituents. The Democratic national convention, for example, featured a cameo from former Ohio governor John Kasich. Yet Kasich averaged 18% support from Republican voters in the 2016 race, the lowest of the frontrunners, while Trump garnered 46.5%. There has been a clear shift in the Republican party from conservativism to an embrace of the far right, but Biden is banking on an unknown number of disaffected Republicans to help him into the White House, instead of hundreds of thousands of disaffected Democrats.

This centrist Democratic obsession with “winning back” white conservatives in rural towns and suburbs is more symbolic than strategic. It’s rooted in a longstanding, mistaken archetype that conflates the working class with white workers, a tradition that reaches as far back as the 1800s Reconstruction Era.