May 15, 2019

OUR TWO REPUBLICAN PARTIES:

Did the Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary? (Bill Scher, 5/14/19, Politico)

For a huge swath of political observers, from pundits to Democratic activists, it was obvious that Joe Biden was going to flop. Before the former vice president entered the race, he was written off as a relic. He was too old (a problem for a party pulsating with millennials and Generation Z). He was too undisciplined (a flaw exposed during his short-lived presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2008.) And he was too wedded to a bygone era of bipartisanship--a centrist out of step with rising progressive stars like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

"Biden is opposing where the center of energy is in the Democratic Party," Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid said.

"I think there's going to be a lot less air in the room than it looks like for Biden. The reality is that Biden's time is passed," predicted Democracy for America chairman Charles Chamberlain.

"We're in a new moment. This is not Joe Biden's moment," Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said.

But it was Joe Biden's moment, and it sure still seems to be Joe Biden's moment. He has dominated the polls since he entered the race last month. Before Biden announced, he was at a measly 29 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, only 6 percentage points ahead of progressive favorite Bernie Sanders, who not all that long ago looked like a genuine co-front-runner. Since then, Biden has surged to 40 percent, kicking Sanders down to the mid-teens. In the past week, Biden has posted intimidating double-digit leads in polls from the early-contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. His dominance of the Democratic Party's moderate wing has helped stall the rise of Mayor Pete Buttigieg while also squeezing the ability of candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris from positioning themselves as more viable progressive alternatives to Sanders.

It's not just Biden's rising poll numbers that suggest that the activist left is out of step with most Democrats; it's the ideological makeup of the entire Democratic Party. Fifty-six percent of Democrats self-identify as "moderate" and 9 percent even embrace "conservative," according to an April poll from the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. While leftist activists pine for the end of the legislative filibuster to grease the skids for partisan legislation, a December GW Politics poll found that 66 percent of Democrats said they prefer elected officials who "make compromises with people they disagree with" over those who "stick to their positions." Only 36 percent of Republicans said the same.

The analysis for months has been that there are three pools of voters to appeal to for Democrats--those who want a reassuring hand at the wheel (older voters); women and minorities (particularly black women); and the ideological Left.  No one is running who ticks all three boxes, so one would expect the eventual nominee to be able to get votes from two. Uncle Joe nails pool one and has residual cred in pool two.  In the absence of a governor who has substantial minority constituents, who else can even compete besides Kamala Harris, at least on paper (a black female prosecutor)?  

Posted by at May 15, 2019 4:15 AM

  

« THE ONLY BATTLEGROUNDS ARE RED STATES: | Main | DONALD WHO?: »