Poor people aren't voting as much, making it harder for Democrats to win elections.
Alec MacGillis' excellent article Who Turned My Blue State Red explores how and why poor areas of the country are voting against their interests for the Republicans. On the one hand, middle-class people are distancing themselves from the poor and the unemployed by voting Republican (ignoring that their community suffers under those policies). More compellingly, he shows how many poor people just don't vote at all.
This month, Pike County went 55 percent for the Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin. That’s the opposite of how the county voted a dozen years ago. In that election, Kentucky still sent a Republican to the governor’s mansion — but Pike County went for the Democratic candidate. And 30 percent fewer people voted in the county this month than did in 2003 — 11,223 voters in a county of 63,000, far below the county’s tally of food-stamp recipients, which was more than 17,000 in 2012.
The good news is the solution is clear: convince poor people to vote again. They are likely the biggest part of mobilizing 11 million more Democrats to vote in 2016 than did so in 2012 in order to win back the House of Representatives. And currently, most Democratic campaigns don't spend much effort on convincing non-voters to participate, focusing their limited resources instead on convincing likely voters to vote their way. That's understandable, but we need to fill the gap and reach poor voters through other efforts, and not rely on the Democratic candidate campaigns of a particular cycle.
At a minimum, we should mail to the poorest carrier routes every year, asking all residents (not just the registered voters) to spend ten minutes on voting for the Democratic ticket, even if it isn't likely to lead to an immediate change (so we don't oversell to a cynical audience). We also know poor people are less educated and thus less informed on the basic reasons to vote Democratic (they are less aware which party votes for Medicaid expansion and which opposes it). That's why we need to reach them and teach them.