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How Can Democrats Survive Without Winning the Votes of White Alabama?

Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace is shown in this Oct. 19, 1964 photo speaking in Glen Burnie, Md. at a rally supporting Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater. (AP Photo)

Above: A Democrat the Media Can Love

The endless array of articles claiming Democrats are doomed if they can’t win REAL AMERICANS has reached its apotheosis: bemoaning the fact that southern Democrats have to make the choice whether to appeal to progressives or white rural people.

When Mike Espy, the Democrat challenging Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, faced his opponent at a debate ahead of this Tuesday’s runoff election, he had to make a choice: confront Ms. Hyde-Smith over her comments about attending “a public hanging,” which evoked the state’s racist history, or take a milder approach to avoid alienating the conservative-leaning white voters who will most likely decide the election.

He chose the latter.

“The world knows what she said, the world knows that those comments were harmful and hurtful,” Mr. Espy said afterward, sounding not entirely convinced.

In a state where politics has long been cleaved by race, Mr. Espy was reckoning with a conundrum that Democrats face across the South — from Mississippi and Alabama, which have been hostile to the party for years, to states like Florida and Georgia that are more hospitable in cities but still challenging in many predominantly white areas. Even as they made gains in the 2018 elections in the suburbs that were once Republican pillars, Democrats are seeing their already weak standing in rural America erode even further.

Now, as Democrats mount a last-minute and decidedly against-the-odds campaign to snatch a Senate seat in this most unlikely of states, they are facing the same problem that undermined some of their most-heralded candidates earlier this month.

The campaigns of Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida and Beto O’Rourke in Texas may have electrified black and progressive white voters — just as Ms. Hyde-Smith’s comments may energize Mississippians to support Mr. Espy — but they had an equal and opposite effect as well: in rural county after rural county, this trio of next-generation Democrats performed worse than President Barack Obama did in 2012.

How does this even get published? Problems? It’s pretty clear that the lesson of Beto O’Rourke nearly winning a statewide race in Texas for the first time in 25 years is that Democrats have no choice but to run the desiccated corpse of John Nance Garner. Captain Jack ain’t going to put up with that progressive crap!

And who cares if these candidates lost rural counties? Why are these the only voters that count? Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke may not have won, but Abrams had her race outright stolen by voter suppression (which also contributed to Gillum’s loss) and both way outperformed previous Democrats. Why is it that winning the cities and suburbs isn’t good enough for the media? Why is it that appealing to rural white conservatives is the only appropriate way Democrats can run a campaign? All that matters is one win an election. And while these candidates didn’t quite win, does context not matter at all? Wait, it’s the media, of course it doesn’t. Just keep on interviewing white rural aging Trump voters in cafes about how Democrats are out of touch.

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