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Democrats losing in rural America because ‘we are very bad at messaging,’ says Sen. Jon Tester

In an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press," the Montana Democrat said his party needs to focus messaging “more on the things we’re doing for rural America.”
Jon Tester at the U.S. Capitol Building
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 5.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Sunday that he believes his party’s “very bad” messaging cost Democrats support in rural America in the midterm elections in November.

In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Tester said Democrats need to focus their messaging “more on the things we’re doing for rural America.”

Tester pointed to bills he’s working on that deal with big packers and meat consolidation, which he said would help cow and calf operators make a better living.

He also said he doesn’t believe Democrats talk about their accomplishments in a way that appeals to rural voters “nearly enough,” citing the bipartisan infrastructure law that passed Congress last year.

“It’s going to help rural America big time, when it comes to broadband and electrical distribution and roads and bridges. We didn’t talk about it,” he said. “We didn’t talk about it from a rural perspective.”

In order for Democrats to get the message out to rural America, Tester said, it needs to be a “concentrated effort” because they have been “very bad” at delivering it thus far.

“And "If we’re able to do that and do that effectively, you’ll see those numbers change," he added.

President Joe Biden is still struggling to gain strong support in rural areas almost two years into his presidential term. In a final NBC News poll before the Nov. 8 midterm elections, 44% of registered voters approved of the president's performance. Biden earned his lowest lower numbers among rural voters (29%) and independents (28%).