Lately, the president and his allies have sharpened their rhetoric. Can the party win back blue-collar white voters by bashing Wall Street?
Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren is challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) with an anti-Wall-Street message.
Democrats have been rediscovering their inner populist lately. President Obama is calling on the wealthiest Americans to pay their "fair share" in taxes. Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for the Senate in Massachusetts, has become a rising star by bluntly criticizing the business class. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a petition last month aimed at leveraging the Occupy Wall Street movement against the Republican Party.
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But the clearest test for whether Democrats can sell a message centered on income inequality won't be in the presidential race, where Obama's chances of victory depend heavily on the mood of upscale, white-collar professionals. Rather, the battle for the hearts and minds of the working-class will take place in the House race battlefields, where Democrats can't afford to write off blue-collar voters if they hope to win the 25 seats they need to recapture the majority.
It wasn't long ago that Democrats were highly competitive with that demographic. In 2006 and 2008, their greatest gains came in heavily white districts with relatively small concentrations of college graduates. Former DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel aggressively recruited culturally conservative candidates, recognizing that the party couldn't handicap itself by ceding Middle America to Republicans. The ability to compete across the country is what allowed the party to forge a congressional governing majority for four years.