Race-Class Narrative Messaging Resources

Both economic and racial justice are core progressive priorities, but too often campaigns discuss them as if they were separate.

The truth is both racial and economic harms are intertwined. Our opponents promote racial fears to turn out white voters, pitting working people against each other and against good government, while economic pain fuels racial resentment and facilitates scapegoating, including attacks on immigrants and Muslims.

A narrative that integrates both race and class can energize and persuade a truly multi-racial cohort to support progressive policies and vote for progressive candidates. The key for cross-racial solidarity, voter engagement, and policy victories is mobilizing around the connections between racial divisions and economic hardship. Here, for the first time, is empirical data that supports this unifying race-forward message, while showing the benefits of calling out dog-whistle racism for what it is: a divide-and-conquer strategy that creates distrust and undermines belief in government.

The central question explored in this research - done in partnership between Demos Action, with Anat Shenker-Osorio (ASO Communications), and Ian Haney López (author of Dog Whistle Politics) - is how to engage simultaneously around race and class in ways that strengthen social solidarity, reduce division and scapegoating, and create a viable foundation for progressive policy victories. The research resoundingly shows that candidates can run on a unifying message of race and class while both mobilizing the base and increasing appeal to persuadable voters. 

National Dial Survey Report

Lake Research Partners, in collaboration with ASO Communications and Brilliant Corners Research and Strategy, designed and implemented this survey in March 2018. Key findings include:

  • It helps to evoke race and when articulating and agenda to make life better for working people.

  • Calling out divide-and-conquer tactics is more effective than staying silent, especially when connecting that divisive rhetoric to wider socioeconomic division.

  • Calling out intentional division is not enough alone, it must be paired with a positive call to action that recognizes that "we are stronger when we work together"

Race-Class Toolkit

All the content and resources you need to bring the messaging research out into the world. The toolkit includes:

  • Sample social media messaging and draft mailers

  • General talking points

  • A deep dive into the methodology and results of the study

  • An explainer delving into why these messages work and who they mobilize and persuade

  • Video examples of Race-Class messaging usage

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State Findings

Demos and partners were able to test the Race-Class Narrative in four targeted states.

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Among persuadable Democrats, an explicit mention of race significantly improves the call to reject divide and conquer tactics. Even among persuadable Republicans, explicitly mentioning race improves the effectiveness of the message.

Persuadable adults across party lines say they are more likely to vote for candidates when they speak out against those who divide us along racial and ethnic lines.


A memo from Demos Action with guidance on responding to the dog-whistle racism of the right in the final days of the 2018 midterms. Effective counters explicitly call out the tactic for what it is: an effort to divide the working class, preventing us from achieving an America that works for all people, not just the wealthy few. Read More

Race-Class In Action


Watch as Amber uses an integrated race-class narrative in advocating for a new generation of leaders to address the problems that many young people are facing
© Midwest Culture Lab, a project of Alliance for Youth Organizing
Produced by Notice Pictures 


Learn More

Demos Action is available to help people incorporate this Race-Class Narrative (RCN) research into campaigns, base-building efforts and communications with the public. Examples include:

  • Integrate the RCN findings and best practices into an already-established training.

  • Work with us to tailor the narrative to your issue campaigns and strategic messaging to support the adaptation of the narrative into all forms of campaign communications, from door-knocking scripts to commercials.

  • Host a presentation or half-day workshop on RCN findings and best practices.

  • Partner with us to run a field experiment to further test our most resonant messages.

  • Contact us for technical assistance on your strategic messaging plans and material development.