Person

Anat Shenker-Osorio

Occupation:

Left-Wing Political Strategist

Nationality:

American

Anat Shenker-Osorio is a left-wing political strategist and communications consultant who has been associated with the Open Society Foundations created and funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. Shenker-Osario is known for promoting the “race-class narrative,” which attempts to play upon race and class differences to promote left-of-center policy. [1]

Race-Class Narrative

Much of Shenker-Osorio’s work as a communications consultant focuses on what she describes as the “race-class narrative,” a series of communications approaches that pair traditional left-wing economic populist messages with appeals to racial consciousness and solidarity. [2]

The approach connects themes of racial consciousness to traditional economic issues to draw middle- and lower-class white “persuadable voters” into political alliance with traditionally Democratic racial minority groups. The theory of the race-class narrative is that “centering race” in terms of economic justice “improves the efficacy of economic populism, and reduces support for opposition views.” Shenker-Osario has also claimed that right-of-center emphasis on individualism relies on “right-wing tropes about ‘handouts’ and lack of work ethic” which can be countered by “calling out attacks on Black and brown communities.” [3]

The race-class narrative project is based on focus group testing, both nationally and in states such as Indiana and Minnesota. In a 2018 op-ed in the Guardian, Shenker-Osorio and co-authors Ian Haney Lopez and Tamara Draut argued that Democrats did not need to choose between minority and white middle-class voters but could approach racial and economic topics in a way that bridged the supposed divide between the groups. The key, the authors wrote, was to “make explicit how racism oppresses people of color while serving as a weapon for a greedy few to keep the rest of us from uniting.” In doing so, liberal political advocates could unite them with left-wing minority voters. [4]

Shenker-Osorio led the project in conjunction with a group of Democratic polling groups that includes Lake Research Partners and the liberal political advocacy group Demos. [5]

2020 Presidential Election

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Shenker-Osorio assisted Michael Podhorzer, a senior advisor to the president of the AFL-CIO, with “red-teaming” various potential outcomes to the election. In the lead up to the election, Podhorzer began working with left-wing interest groups to make voting in the 2020 presidential election easier in order to encourage turnout against then-President Trump. Time Magazine reported in February 2021 that Podhorzer began working with groups, including Planned ParenthoodGreenpeace, and MoveOn, to pursue political and legal strategies that would tilt the election towards Democrats. [6]

Working with Podhorzer, Shenker-Osorio “poll-tested messaging guidance” that shaped the approach of the various groups that worked to increase turnout among left-leaning constituencies. She also developed messaging for “Protect the Vote” rallies that were held by labor and other left-wing groups in the immediate week after the election. [7]

Background

Shenker-Osorio holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. She is the principal at ASO Communications, a political polling and strategy group she founded. Shenker-Osorio is the author of Don’t Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy and has advised the AFL-CIO, the Democracy Alliance, the U.S. House Democratic Caucus on Political Strategy and Communications, among other groups. In 20018, she was an Open Society Foundations fellow. [8]

References

  1. “Race-Class: Our Progressive Narrative.” Demos.org. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/Race_Class_Narrative_Handout_C3_June%206.pdf ^
  2. “Race-Class: Our Progressive Narrative.” Demos.org. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/Race_Class_Narrative_Handout_C3_June%206.pdf ^
  3. “Race-Class: Our Progressive Narrative.” Demos.org. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/Race_Class_Narrative_Handout_C3_June%206.pdf ^
  4. Ian Haney López , Anat Shenker-Osorio and Tamara Draut. “Democrats can win by tackling race and class together. Here’s proof.” The Guardian. April 14, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/14/democrats-race-class-divide-2018-midterms ^
  5. “Race-Class: Our Progressive Narrative.” Demos.org. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/Race_Class_Narrative_Handout_C3_June%206.pdf ^
  6. Molly Ball. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” Time. February 4, 2021. Accessed March 7, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  7. Molly Ball. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” Time. February 4, 2021. Accessed March 7, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  8. “Anat Shenker-Osorio.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed April 10, 2021. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/open-society-fellowship?fellow=anat-shenker-osorio&past=1 ^
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