To Fox News, or not to Fox News? That is what headlines suggest has transfixed the Democratic presidential field. (I tend to think other concerns rank higher, but it makes for alluring clickbait and cable panel talk.) On one side is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who gets praise from the left for refusing to go on Fox, which would thereby add to its revenue. On the other are candidates such as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who got rave reviews for his Sunday town hall. Buttigieg generated headlines and buttressed his image as a witty intellectual who could slice and dice up Trump. In essence, it was a call to Democratic voters: See how good I am at putting right-wingers back on their heels?

What I do not think going on Fox News accomplishes is “winning over” Fox viewers. If they are hardcore Fox viewers who would not see a candidate on any other channel, chances are they aren’t going to vote for a liberal, gay, pro-immigration Democrat. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who also went on Fox, has a better chance, given Sanders’s lukewarm enthusiasm for immigration, his populism and his past record on gun rights. The notion that there are persuadable white, working-class Fox News viewers out there is part and parcel of the misconception that leads some Democrats to insist they need a white male candidate.

Remember that in 2016 Donald Trump lost the popular vote and narrowly (by less than 80,000 votes) won the electoral college in a race with an opponent who didn’t grasp the public anger toward the political establishment. The groups that peeled off from President Trump and helped Democrats win back the House in 2018 were younger voters, suburbanites and college-educated voters (especially college-educated women). In 2020, Democrats will have to retain all of those voters and turn out their core voters (nonwhites, urbanites) in the large and not-so-large cities of the Upper Midwest. You might find some of those voters among the Fox News audience, but frankly there are better ways of targeting those voters.

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Given post-2016 data showing that cultural and racial issues, not economic hardship, were most critical for Trump voters, Democrats should be wary of concluding that the hardcore anti-immigration white men the media interviewed endlessly during and after the 2016 election are going to be wooed back to vote for a pro-immigration, pro-abortion-rights progressive just because he or she supports a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

The economic bread-and-butter issues that Democrats tout are attractive to groups they have a reasonable chance of winning by significant margins in 2020 — women, nonwhite working-class voters, college-educated whites (disturbed about income inequality and the long-term health of the country plus issues such as climate change) and younger voters. (For the latter, Warren’s offering of student debt relief and universal child care will be attractive.)

In sum, Democrats should go on Fox if they are desperate to stay in the news, if they can create viral moments like Buttigieg or if they want to try convincing progressives that they are electable because they have the secret sauce for winning over white working-class voters. However, if they are doing it out of the mistaken belief that Democrats’ chances of getting rid of Trump lie in winning over Sean Hannity’s viewers, they’d better rethink things.

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