The Canadian press

Democrats find support for Biden in the American small town

MANKATO, Minn. – Mary McGaw grew up in a Republican home on the rural prairie in southern Minnesota. But when she moved from her tiny town of Amboy to the nearest town of Mankato to study nursing, so did her politics. McGaw was moved by the plight of the underinsured and worried about the feasibility of security programs. She cast her vote for Democrat Joe Biden in November, and almost three months later, she’s delighted with how hard the new president is fighting for his priorities. “He’s trying to get something done even though there are setbacks from all sides,” said the 37-year-old nurse, who now works in a Mankato branch of the Mayo Clinic. McGaw’s Transformation Powers Democrats’ Hopes What the party thinks is its new frontier: small town America. As small town Democrats continue to lose votes, they have seen significant increases in regional hubs that span parts of rural America. Biden carried around 60 counties that President Donald Trump won in 2016, many of which were places anchored by a medium-sized or small democratic town. These include places like Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wilmington, North Carolina, Dayton, Ohio, and Mankatos Blue Earth County. Their similarities are striking: most include universities or similar Mankato, large medical centers that attract educated and racially diverse newcomers. Their economies are better than average. And in 2020, their voters showed a bipartisan series – they voted for Biden as president and Repu Blicans vote in large numbers. “These voters agree with Biden’s personal brand,” said Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group, a non-partisan demography and public opinion team. But he also makes sure that there is room for moderation in the party. “Biden won Blue Earth County by 4.5 percentage points, about the same percentage as Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. In November, voters in the region left 30-year-old Democratic MP Collin Peterson, arguably the most conservative Democrat in Congress , fall, but were re-elected two democratic state legislatures. Interviews with voters in the vicinity of Mankato help to understand these partisans in a zigzag manner. While Trump remains heavily supported, voters insist that action weighs more than ideological purity. Even devout Democratic activists who want the new $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package – Biden’s most important legislative achievement to date – aren’t frustrated. “Sure, I wish it had included the $ 15 minimum wage,” said Jim Hepworth, the region’s Democratic chairman. Blue Earth County has moved back and forth for a long time in presidential elections. However, the demographic trend is steady in favor of the Democrats. The expansion of the Mayo Clinic from nearby Rochester to Mankato in 1996 increased the supply of healthcare professionals from across the country and around the world. Since 2010, jobs in the health sector in the district have increased by around 70%. About 40% of Mankato’s residents have a college degree – a key indicator of democratic elections – compared to 33% across the country. Racial diversity has accelerated – another boost for the Democrats. Minnesota State University, Mankato, has attracted more international students to its expanded health programs. Manufacturing and food processing operations on the outskirts have attracted immigrants from North Africa and Latin America. The transition has not been without tension, but the area has come a long way since Abdi Sabrie, a Somali-American member of the Mankato School Board, arrived in 2009. Then his two daughters were the only students of North African descent in their area of ​​elementary school. Today 28% of Mankato’s enrollments are color students. The changes are welcome, but Sabrie is frustrated. “Sometimes I want the Democrats to use their control to the max, regardless of the other side,” he said. “But this diversity shows me that we can bring back the politics of cooperation.” Annual household income in Blue Earth rose around $ 20,000 over the past decade to nearly $ 60,000 in February, still below the national average of $ 71,300. Blue Earth housing has also increased from an average home price of around $ 140,000 to $ 226,000. Thanks to health care, unemployment was 3.2% in January, up slightly from 2.6% a year earlier. The state stood at 4.5% in January. Signs of change are easy to find. A decade ago, hijabs were banned for Mayo employees. These days, the colored headgear of some Muslim women is common on campus. The nation’s racist reckoning has resulted in a debate over its name being changed to Sibley Park, whose namesake is a general who ordered the execution of 38 Dakota warriors in 1862, the largest mass execution in US history. From near this solemn location along the Minnesota River, Mankato grew eastward to its wooded cliffs. Along the river there are still the brick hulls of grain exchanges, but now also Karshe, an East African tea shop, and the Arty Fillin ‘Station coffeehouse between used bookstores, spas and brewpubs. Halfway up the slope, Mayo’s Campus is amid the neat, bourgeois houses that made all the difference to Biden. In that district, Biden received 500 votes more than Clinton in 2016, a third of his profit margin in the county. McGaw picked her children up from school and said that she and her husband, a Spanish-speaking medical interpreter, thought Biden was more task-oriented and less “about himself” than Trump. She voted directly, but Peterson had gotten too conservative, McGaw said her family had lived modestly during the COVID-19 pandemic. You are entitled to $ 2,800 home help and $ 2,800 child tax credits. McGaw sees others are needier said. “I’ve never been nervous about my job security. In fact, I was always asked to work more. Do we need the money? To be honest, we can do without it. “McGaw isn’t exactly typical. Nationally, 53% of Democrats say they experienced at least some form of loss of income during the pandemic, a little more than 43% of Republicans, according to a March Associated Press-NORC Center for Research poll Public affairs area. A few blocks away, retired clerk Jaci Lageson said she was pleased with Biden’s compromise with Senate moderators to lower the income threshold for those who receive the checks in the pockets of people who need it to survive. ” said Lageson, a 67-year-old former Republican who has voted Democrat for the past 20 years. Lageson’s 73-year-old husband, Larry, a devoted Trump supporter, called Biden a farmer for Democratic House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi. The number of counties Biden flipped in November is well below the 206 Trump flipped by Barack Obama in 2016 – partisanship has intensified in the US. However, the democratic trend in these smaller, well-trained bags looks sustainable, said researcher Griffin. “It’s not surprising that higher education is turning back to Democrats as education polarization has increased,” he said. While Mankato continues to be one of the smaller cities in this class, it has grown 35% since 2000 to around 44,000. Growth has turned this sleepy rural college island into a microcosm of Democratic America, mixed with a pragmatic sensibility reflected in Elizabeth Van Slyke, “a progressive willingness to compromise.” “I’m not that determined,” said the 57-year-old marketing director. “Some progress in the right direction is better than no progress.” – Emily Swanson, opinion polling director for The Associated Press, contributed from Washington. Thomas Beaumont, The Associated Press