Why Democrats Fail With Rural Voters

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

How can Democrats stop losing ground in rural America? A progressive who served a conservative district weighs in.

Why do the two main political parties do so poorly with some large groups of voters? In this episode we look at how in recent decades Democrats have been losing rural America by growing margins. Next time we will focus on Republicans and their struggles with Gen-Z voters.

In 1996, Bill Clinton carried nearly half of all rural counties. But in 2020 Joe Biden won majorities in fewer than 7% of these counties.

Our guest, Chloe Maxmin, a progressive Democrat from rural Maine, was the youngest woman ever to serve in Maine’s Senate. She was elected in a conservative district in 2020 after unseating a two-term Republican incumbent in a region that twice voted for Donald Trump by large majorities.

She argues that her party has ignored voters in rural America, and that their road to victory begins with respect, empathy, seeking common ground, and listening carefully to rural voters’ concerns. When on the doorstep, Maxmin argues, candidates and volunteers should “take the time to listen to why somebody believes the things they do and why they think the way they do.”

Hear more on the latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

Chloe Maxmin

Hailing from rural Maine, Chloe is the youngest woman ever to serve in the Maine State Senate, at 28 years old. She was elected in 2020 after unseating a two-term Republican incumbent and (former) Senate Minority Leader. In 2018, she served in the Maine House of Representatives after becoming the first Democrat to win a rural conservative district. She also received an honors degree from Harvard College, where she co-founded Divest Harvard. Chloe is the recipient of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and the Brower Youth Award. She was also named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone. She was named the 2020 Legislator of the Year by the Maine Council on Aging. She is also the Co-Founder/Advisor at JustME for JustUS, a Maine-based organization focus on rural youth civic engagement and climate organizing. She is the Co-Founder, alongside Canyon, of Dirtroad Organizing, a new non-profit dedicated to rural organizing.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Why We Misunderstand Independent Voters

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

Is everything we know about independent voters wrong? Two experts share insights on this growing population.

Independent voters make up more than 40 percent of the voting public. But you wouldn’t know that from media coverage, which focuses almost exclusively on red versus blue. Independents are often overlooked or seen as wishy-washy, bending in the wind. Our guests on this episode say that’s a big misconception.

In this show, we look at a group of voters, including many young people, that is making up a growing slice of the US population.

Our guests are Jackie Salit and John Opdycke. Jackie is the author of Independents Rising and president of Independent Voting, an organization dedicated to bringing respect, recognition and reform to independent voters. John Opdycke is president of Open Primaries, which campaigns for primary elections in which every American can vote, not just Republicans or Democrats.

In a wide ranging discussion John and Jackie say that independents are not moderates: They envision a much less divisive political system than the current one, and they want to play a bigger role in American democracy.

Hear more on the latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 76 – Why We Misunderstand Independent Voters

Jackie Salit

Jackie Salit is President of Independent Voting, a national strategy, communications, and organizing center that works to connect independent voters across the U.S. and is a 30-year veteran of the independent and reform movements. She also serves as co-director for the Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy at Arizona State University.

Salit hosts regular national conference calls with hundreds of activist independents nationwide. Her firsthand account of this growing and influential voting bloc, Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America, was published in 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.

An architect of independent presidential runs in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Salit played a central role in the 1988 “Two Roads are Better Than One” campaign of Lenora Fulani, the first African American to achieve 50-state ballot access. Salit was a frontline figure in shaping a coalition with Ross Perot and the Perot movement which led to the founding of the Reform Party in 1997.

In 2008, Salit’s network of independent voters galvanized support for Barack Obama in the open Democratic primaries, key to Obama’s primary win over Hillary Clinton and his general election win over John McCain.

John Opdycke

John Opdycke is the President of Open Primaries. He is an activist and strategist with 25 years of experience working in independent, alternative and reform politics. He is one of the country’s most visible and vocal advocates for primary reform.

Opdycke began his career as a fundraiser and researcher for the Rainbow Lobby, which advocated for ballot access and debate reform in the United States and supported the pro-democracy movement in the Congo (Zaire). In 1992, he joined Dr. Lenora Fulani’s independent campaign for president as a regional fundraising director, and in 1994 assisted Dr. Fulani in her campaign against Mario Cuomo in the New York Democratic Party gubernatorial primary. In 1998, he became the director of development of IndependentVoting.org, and between 1999 and 2014 expanded IndependentVoting.org’s fundraising from $50,000 to $1 million annually.

He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, PBS, and NBC, and his written commentary on independent politics and electoral reform has appeared in USA Today, Newsweek, The Hill, and dozens of local publications.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Common Ground Partner Series episode 75

Local Common Ground: Dinner and a Fight Dialogue

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

How can people of all political stripes disagree constructively? Explore a lively grassroots effort.

Want to know one of the most exciting and innovative ways to find common ground? Get people out of their political bunkers and move them beyond rigid polarization in our divided nation. Consider local efforts, such as the one we profile in this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

Journalist Simon Montlake of The Christian Science Monitor tells us about his reporting on a lively grassroots effort in northeast Ohio to help people of all political stripes disagree constructively. Participants meet first over dinner at a community center and then discuss a hot topic. The audience is invited to discuss a controversial proposition, listening to different points of view. It’s called Dinner and a Fight with the word “fight” crossed out and replaced by “dialogue.”

Organizers Ted Wetzel and Tom Hach explain how the evenings work and why they can be part of a broader effort to rebuild civic bonds. Ted is the founder and executive director of Fighting-To-Understand, a nonprofit group that encourages people to be more skilled at healthy disagreement. Former IT program manager and retired Navy Reservist Tom Hach is Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN).

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 75 – Local Common Ground: Dinner and a Fight Dialogue

Simon Montlake

Simon Montlake is a national reporter at the Christian Science Monitor, based in Boston. Democracy and politics are among his beats. He’s a former Monitor correspondent in Jakarta, Bangkok, and Beijing, where he covered political upheavals, civil wars, economic crises, natural disasters, and the Beijing Olympics.

In addition to the Monitor, Simon has worked for The Economist and Forbes. Born in London, he was educated at the University of Manchester, and has a soft spot for Manchester City FC.

Ted Wetzel

Ted Wetzel is founder and executive director of Fighting-To-Understand, a 501(c)3 organized in 2019 for civic education. Ted brings a background of engineering, sales, marketing, business ownership, parenting, organizational development, psychology, and spirituality to bear on the gnawing question: if democracy is rooted in disagreement, then how do We The People become very skilled at healthy disagreement? A first step on this journey can be participation in Dinner and a Fight Dialogue.

Tom Hach

Tom is the State Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN), a group made up of liberty group leaders from across the state.

Tom retired as an IT program manager after many years, and he also retired from the Navy Reserve after a 21 year career, during which he served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Additionally, Tom is in his third term as a school board member.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Common Ground 2022 Year End Special Podcast

The Search for Common Ground: 2022 Year-End Show

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

What did 2022 bring to the search for common ground? We look back at memorable conversations.

2022 was a year of surprises in politics and the world beyond. In our year-end special, the Let’s Find Common Ground podcast puts the spotlight on six interviews that we published during the past twelve months.

We hear former Congressman Will Hurd discuss moderation and extremes in American politics. Author and market researcher Diane Hessan tells us what pollsters often overlook when they speak with voters. Former gun industry executive Ryan Busse reveals the key differences between responsible gun ownership and the reckless use of firearms.

Our end-of-year podcast also features a conversation between a prison reformer and a corrections industry executive. Two members of Congress— one Republican, one Democrat— explain their effort to improve how Congress works. And a leading newspaper editor and reporter discuss how they face-up honestly and creatively to bias and misinformation in the news media.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 74 – The Search for Common Ground: 2022 Year-End Show

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Common Ground at Work: from Disaster to Success

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

Can we learn to love (or at least not hate) teamwork? Tune in for expert tips on finding common ground.

Collaboration is seen as a given in working life. Being part of a team means cooperating with others on all kinds of projects. But the reality is few of us learn how to collaborate. And when a collaboration fails it can leave such bad scars that the people involved never want to work together again.

With the stresses that have come with the Covid years – including the online workplace – many of us have found our collaboration skills tested to their limits.

In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we speak with professor and collaboration expert Dr. Deb Mashek, author of the forthcoming book Collabor(hate): how to build incredible collaborative relationships at work (even if you’d rather work alone).

Deb found that three-quarters of people have been in at least one collaboration they loathed. But she says if more of us learn some simple skills, these kinds of disasters can be avoided and we’ll be able to find a lot more common ground. An expert on the psychology of human relationships, she gives examples of terrible collaborations that turned into successful ones. She also reveals how her own difficult childhood was the basis for her fascination with human relationships and how to make them work.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 73 – Common Ground at Work: from Disaster to Success

Dr. Deb Mashek

Dr. Deb Mashek, PhD is an experienced business advisor, professor, higher education administrator, and national nonprofit executive. She is the author of the forthcoming book Collabor(h)ate: How to build incredible collaborative relationships at work (even if you’d rather work alone). Named one of the Top 35 Women in Higher Education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, she has been featured in media outlets including MIT Sloan Management Review, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Business Week. She writes regularly for Psychology Today.

Previously Full Professor of Social Psychology at Harvey Mudd College, Deb also served as the inaugural Executive Director of Heterodox Academy, a national nonprofit advancing constructive disagreement on college campuses.

Deb is the founder of Myco Consulting LLC, where she applies relationship science to help people collaborate better and to help business leaders navigate the relationship headwinds that tank timelines, bottom lines, and well-being.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Let's Find Common Ground - Episode 72

Holiday Special: Talking With People You Love, Whose Views You Don’t.

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

Same family, different politics? Hear personal stories and smart tips for minimizing conflict.

The holiday season is here but many people across the country may be dreading sitting down with their nearest and dearest— all because of politics.

In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we discuss political differences with a father and daughter who have different ways of seeing the world. Clare Ashcraft and her dad Brian live in Ohio. He’s an engineer and a conservative. She is a liberal-leaning college student.

We also speak with well-known psychologist Tania Israel, author of Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across The Political Divide. Skills and Strategies That Work. Just in time for Thanksgiving, we share smart tips to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation with parents, family and friends.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 72 – Holiday Special: Talking With People You Love, Whose Views You Don’t.

Brian Ashcraft

Brian Ashcraft lives in Dayton, Ohio and is an engineer for a medical manufacturing company. He’s husband to one fabulous wife and father to two independent, intelligent children.

He and his wife are both runners and have been active in their running community. He has been a race director for numerous events and put on races to support children with special disabilities. He believes we need to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Clare Ashcraft

Clare Ashcraft is an English and philosophy student at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. At Capital, she leads a chapter of BridgeUSA, is involved with student government, Sigma Tau Delta, and ReCap Literary Magazine. She also builds sets in the Cabaret theater. Outside of class, she works as a bridging & bias assistant for AllSides. She enjoys listening to podcasts and cooking in her free time.

Tania Israel

Tania Israel is a Professor in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Her book Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work grew out of a skill-building workshop she developed and delivered to hundreds of participants following the 2016 election.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Let's Find Common Ground - Episode 71

Special Episode: Lessons From The 2022 Midterm Elections

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

What lessons can we learn from the 2022 midterms? Hear from two experienced political strategists.

Why did the widely forecast “red wave” election turn into a ripple? What are the prospects for finding common ground in Congress where both houses will have razor-thin majorities? What will the midterm election results mean for the future of our Republic?

In this special podcast episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, releasing just days after several key races were determined, two of the most experienced political strategists of recent decades share their insights. Democrat Bob Shrum and Republican Mike Murphy serve as co-directors of The Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California. Among other topics, we explore their relationship as good friends who are on opposite sides of the political divide.

Mike Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than two dozen successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. Bob Shrum was once described as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party,” by The Atlantic Monthly. He was the strategist in over 25 winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful races for governor, and numerous campaigns for Congress and statewide offices.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 71 – Special Episode: Lessons From The 2022 Midterm Elections

Bob Shrum

Robert Shrum is the Director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife. A legendary political strategist, he was once described as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party,” by The Atlantic Monthly. He was a speechwriter for Senator George McGovern in the 1972 presidential campaign and for Senator Edward Kennedy in the 1980 presidential campaign. He served as the Senator’s Press Secretary in the early 1980s and as a political consultant and strategist in his subsequent Senate campaigns. He was also the strategist in over 25 other winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful campaigns for governor, successful campaigns for mayors in major American cities, and numerous campaigns for Congress and other statewide offices. His clients included Joe Biden, John Glenn, Barbara Mikulski, David Dinkins, and Tom Bradley – and John Kerry and Al Gore in their presidential races. Overseas his clients included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the British Labour Party, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and the Presidents of Colombia and Bolivia.

In 2005 he shifted his attention to the academic world. Professor Shrum teaches several classes at USC on domestic policy, applied politics, and elections. He had previously taught at New York University, was a Silliman Fellow at Yale, and Kennedy Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Shrum’s book, No Excuse: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner was a national bestseller published in June 2007 by Simon and Schuster. As a journalist, Shrum’s work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, and The Huffington Post. He has been a columnist for Slate, The Week, and the Daily Beast. He has written for commercial television, including “The Emmy Awards,” “The American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards,” and the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts,” for which he received a Writers Guild of America award.

He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School. While at Georgetown, Shrum was named top speaker at the 1965 Collegiate National Debate Tournament. An award named after Shrum is now presented annually to the top speaker at the National Speech and Debate Tournament for high school students. Shrum was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania and raised in Culver City, California. He now lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, the writer and activist Marylouise Oates, and their dog Cody.

In 2015 Shrum received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) and was inducted into its Hall of Fame.

Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy is the Co-Director of the Center for the Political Future at USC. Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than 26 successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. His record in helping Republicans win Democratic states is unmatched by any other GOP consultant. Murphy has been called a “media master” by Fortune magazine, the GOP’s “hottest media consultant” by Newsweek, and the leader of a “new breed” of campaign consultants by Congressional Quarterly. He is a widely known political pundit, appearing frequently on NBC, CNN, and NPR. Previously, he served as a regular on the Meet the Press political roundtable and wrote the “Murphy’s Law” column for TIME Magazine.

Murphy served as senior strategist for both John McCain’s first campaign for President in 2000 and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s historic election as Governor of California. Murphy has worked on successful campaigns for many GOP Governors and Senators including Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Terry Branstad, Lamar Alexander, Jeff Sessions, Slade Gorton, Dirk Kempthorne, Tommy Thompson and John Engler. In the 2016 primary season, Murphy served as the chief strategist to the Right to Rise PAC, which supported Jeb Bush’s candidacy. In 2020 Murphy joined former aides to George W. Bush and John McCain to endorse Joe Biden for president. He has advised political leaders in six foreign countries, too. A partner in the Washington, DC based Revolution Agency, Murphy also advises several Fortune 500 corporations and several of America’s largest trade associations.

Murphy has partnered with fellow campaign veteran David Axelrod to discuss American politics twice a week on their podcast, Hacks on Tap. Murphy previously hosted Radio Free GOP where he facilitated insider discussions about political campaigns with campaign veterans from both parties.

He was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1962 and attended the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Murphy also served as a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is on the Board of Advisors for the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. In addition to his consulting practice, Murphy also works as a writer/producer in the entertainment industry. He and his wife Tiffany now live in Los Angeles, California where they have been based since 2003.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Let's Find Common Ground - Episode 70

Broken Media: The Roots of Today’s News Crisis

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

How did the news crisis begin and how can it be solved? Hear from an industry insider.

While many American consumers have given up their daily news habit, millions of others are now addicted to rage media— cable news and social media that push sensationalism, groupthink and partisan tribalism.

This trend of “news bubbles” is relatively recent. Over the past 30 years, the decline of many regional newspapers has given way to a new form of slick, easy, and profitable national opinion journalism that caters to narrow segments of the population across the nation. Local reporting of how our towns, cities and states are run has died out in many parts of the country.


In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we look at the current state of the news industry and ask why the media and news consumers should insist  on better journalism. Our guest is Chris Stirewalt, a columnist, author and former political editor for Fox News. Chris is the author of the new book, “Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back.”

 

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 70 – Broken Media: The Roots of Today’s News Crisis

Chris Stirewalt

Chris Stirewalt is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on American politics, voting trends, public opinion, and the media. He is concurrently a contributing editor and weekly columnist for The Dispatch. Before joining AEI, he was political editor of Fox News Channel, where he helped coordinate political coverage across the network and specialized in on-air analysis of polls and voting trends.

Before joining Fox News Channel, Mr. Stirewalt served as political editor of the Washington Examiner, where he wrote a twice-weekly column and led political coverage for the newspaper. He also served as political editor of the Charleston Daily Mail and West Virginia Media. Mr. Stirewalt began his career at the Wheeling Intelligencer in West Virginia.

A well-known political commentator, Mr. Stirewalt wrote about his personal experience of the 2020 election in the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of “Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back” (Center Street, 2022), a new book on media and politics.

Mr. Stirewalt is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where he studied history.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Broken Media? Restoring Trust in News Coverage

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

Can the media help solve polarization, rather than cause it? Two journalists weigh in.

The United States has one of the highest news avoidance rates in the world. Tens of millions of Americans don’t read, watch or listen to the news each day, and the media is generally held in low regard. So, is there a better way to report and analyze current events that will satisfy readers’ interests?

In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we hear from Mark Sappenfield, Editor of The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, the National Political Correspondent. We’re releasing this podcast less than two weeks before the midterm elections — a time when many news outlets have amped up their coverage, speculated about winners and losers, and put additional emphasis on the nation’s deep partisan divides.

We discuss evolving news values with the Monitor and how reporters and editors are striving to highlight constructive solutions that unite rather than divide. We also hear about election coverage and why the media need to challenge readers, build trust, and report the news truthfully.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 69 – Broken Media? Restoring Trust in News Coverage

Mark Sappenfield

Mark Sappenfield is the Editor for The Christian Science Monitor. He joined the Monitor in 1996 and has since written from Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pentagon, and India. In addition to reporting from Pakistan and Afghanistan during his time in South Asia, Mark has also written on issues of sports and science. He has covered seven Olympic Games and attended events at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, including the landing of the Mars rover Opportunity. After returning to Boston in 2009, Mark served as both deputy national news editor and national news editor.

Story Hinckley

Story Hinckley is a Washington-based National Political Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia where she double majored in Political Science and Environmental Thought and Practice, and a master’s in journalism from Northeastern University.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Bridging Divides on College Campuses

Bridging Divides on College Campuses

Subscribe to the Podcast


Listen on Google PodcastsListen on podcast app Player FM

Can young people find the solution to overcoming the hostility caused by political polarization?

Rigid polarization and political division are among the biggest challenges facing our country. Young people are often taught that tribalism is better than unity and that conversations across political and cultural divides are impossible.

College students Clare Ashcraft, who comes from a conservative background, and Jackson Richter, who calls himself a committed liberal, are active members of BridgeUSA, a national movement of students who are working to emphasize the importance of empathy, understanding and ideological diversity.

In this podcast episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we hear about their personal experiences of cancel culture, the impact of social media on Generation Z students, and why many young people actually feel that free speech can harm them. We also learn about efforts to equip students with skills to find solutions across divides and build bridges with others of different backgrounds and points of view.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 68 – Bridging Divides on College Campuses

Clare Ashcraft

Clare Ashcraft is an English and philosophy student at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. At Capital, she leads a chapter of BridgeUSA, is involved with student government, Sigma Tau Delta, and ReCap Literary Magazine. She also builds sets in the Cabaret theater. Outside of class, she works as a bridging & bias assistant for AllSides. She enjoys listening to podcasts and cooking in her free time.

Jackson Richter

Jackson Richter is completing his master’s degree in public policy at Stanford University, where he recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public policy with a minor in data science. He is the President of Stanford’s BridgeUSA chapter, known on campus as the Stanford Political Union. He is passionate about health care, socially minded entrepreneurship, and equity. Jackson is also a proud New Yorker and an avid supporter of the city’s sports teams.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!