(INDIANAPOLIS) – The campaign manager of Bill Clinton’s presidential victory 30 years ago says Indiana Democrats are making the right moves to rebuild the party.
Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in 10 years, and James Carville acknowledges in some Indiana counties, that’s not about to change. But he argues gerrymandering makes Indiana seem redder than it is, and says divisions among Republicans create an opportunity for Democrats at the state level.
Carville praises the party for hitting the road to counties large and small — Democrats boast they’ve been to more than two-thirds of Indiana’s counties over the last year. Carville says many of those counties still aren’t going to elect Democrats any time soon, but says trimming Republican margins from 80-20 to 70-30 can give Democrats enough breathing space to turn out a winning margin in more urban, bluer counties.
Carville notes Democrats have won red-state governor’s races in Kentucky, Kansas and Louisiana. In all three of those cases, Democrats found an opening when Republicans picked controversial nominees.
Democrats aren’t getting much help from the national party. Carville famously posted a sign at Clinton’s campaign headquarters reminding staffers that “it’s the economy, stupid.” President Biden’s approval rates have dived as prices have soared. But Carville says Democrats can point to some good economic numbers, and argues it’s not just the economy — he says voter concerns about abortion rights, guns and the environment will factor into the campaign.
Carville says voters will give Democrats a hearing if candidates connect with voters on issues they care about, and do it in a respectful way. He says the party has been hampered by some voices who “come across as know-it-all and condescending, and think they’re smarter than everybody else. And that’s a very ineffective way to convince people.”
Carville spoke to WIBC before addressing Indiana Democratic convention delegates on Friday.