Third Way Launches $20 Million “New Blue” Campaign to Battle Trumpism; Will Provide Democrats with a “Path out of the Wilderness”

January 17, 2017

Washington, DC: Third Way announced today the launch of a $20 million project to take on Trumpism by helping Democrats reconnect with voters who have abandoned the party. Dubbed the “New Blue” campaign, the effort will offer “a new politics for a new era.”

Third Way President Jonathan Cowan said: “This isn’t about 2016 or the Democratic debates of the past. This is about something bigger. The nation wants their leaders to offer a future-oriented, inclusive, and expansive vision, with an emphasis on providing opportunity, not just fairness. People need to feel that the best days for them, their community, and their country are ahead.”

Cowan continued: “We are not interested in a backwards-looking politics of resentment, with a singular focus on who to blame. While some argue that we should meet Donald Trump’s dangerous right-wing populism with a liberal populism of our own, we have seen how populism can become an uncontrollable prairie fire, driven by anti-government anger. We can’t go back to that, and we must also move on from 1990s-era centrism. We need modern ideas that meet today’s problems. And just as Democrats value America’s diversity, we also need a diversity of paths to lead the party back to power.”

To provide an alternative—what Third Way called a “path out of the wilderness” for Democrats—the New Blue campaign will devise a modern economic narrative, economic agenda, and electoral theory for achieving progressive majorities up and down the ballot.

Economic Narrative

The dawn of the Information Age is as destabilizing economically, socially, and politically as the Industrial Age was at the turn of the last century. The New Blue campaign will develop a compelling economic vision for voters feeling buffeted by changing times.

Third Way will be partnering with stakeholders in Washington as well as reaching far beyond the Beltway, seeking insights from elected officials, entrepreneurs, and other local leaders who understand what has happened in their communities and hearing from voters in much more intensive ways. The narrative elements of New Blue will include:

  • Blue-to-Red Counties: The New Blue team will spend several months traveling to and collaborating with leaders in several counties, ranging from rural to urban, in former ‘blue wall’ states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. We will issue a series of reports on how voters in these areas view the economy and why they moved from blue to red.
  • The Top Swings: Twelve House Democrats won races in districts that Donald Trump also won. The New Blue team will travel to many of these districts to hear from local leaders and hold events with Members of Congress and voters in those split-ticket areas to see what we can learn from the places and people who have survived the red wave.

Economic Agenda

Any real economic narrative must be backed by ideas that are of the scope and scale to address the problems of the information economy. Our policy ideas will be drawn from activities that include:

  • New Blue Economic Strategy Series: Third Way will convene a wide range of policymakers, innovators, entrepreneurs, labor leaders, academics, political thought leaders, and non-profits to begin to piece together the outline of a new and optimistic economic agenda that creates a new bargain with the middle class.
  • Governors: Some of the best thinking on both politics and policy comes from statehouses. New Blue will be working closely with governors to develop and test those ideas.

Electoral Theory

The notion that ‘demography is destiny’—that a ‘rising American electorate’ would provide lasting Democratic majorities—was a myth and contributed to historic electoral erosion at the sub-presidential level even before the ‘blue wall’ collapsed in 2016.

“As egregious as the Comey letter or Russian meddling was, Democrats already were having trouble getting elected outside of a few wealthy states,” Cowan said. “They need a different path to the White House and majorities in Congress and the states.” The New Blue electoral analysis will include:

  • The Next American Majority: With the old models in tatters, Third Way will examine the demographics and voting behaviors of the electorate, with a particular emphasis on areas that switched from supporting Obama to Trump.
  • New Blue Polling Series: Third Way will conduct rigorous qualitative opinion research, followed by a series of polls, to help inform their narrative and analytical research.

Third Way emphasized that “the New Blue campaign is about moving forward.” They are willing to yield none of the social progress this nation has made on things like gun safety, voting rights, and choice. Nor will they stand for any backsliding in opportunity and inclusion for communities of color, LGBT Americans, and immigrants.

Cowan concluded: “Democrats are in their worst shape since the Civil War. This has helped give us the Trump presidency, which could wreak havoc on our security, economy, environment, and social order. Plus, it is unhealthy for democracy to have single-party rule. With a hole this deep, every wing of the party must do a major rethink. A Democratic rebirth will require a truly big tent: liberals and moderates, Democrats and Independents. The answer cannot be either 1990s centrism or 1920s populism. We need a new, aspirational, and bold politics for a new century.”

Press Contacts

Ladan Ahmadi

Senior Media Relations Manager



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