October 12, 2018


What the Primaries Say About the Future of Democrats: The progressive movement is energized, but there is not much evidence that it is taking over the party. (Elaine Kamarck, Oct. 9, 2018, NY Times)

The first thing we noticed is that there were many more self-identified progressives running in 2018 than in 2014 or 2016. In those earlier two elections, 26 percent and 29 percent of Democratic House candidates called themselves progressive; by 2018, 44 percent did. This is compelling evidence of a lively progressive movement within the party.

But in spite of their large numbers, progressives did not do as well at the polls as the candidates we identified as establishment Democrats. This past primary season, 140 establishment candidates, or 35 percent of the total establishment candidates, won their primaries, in contrast to 101 progressive Democrats, or 27 percent.

Moreover, establishment Democrats tended to win the nomination in districts that are most likely to flip from Democratic to Republican, meaning that the House Democratic Caucus that meets next January will probably be composed of fewer progressives than would be indicated by their numbers on the ballot. In congressional districts that are evenly matched or slightly Republican, there are more establishment challengers than progressive challengers. More solid Republican districts, however, have a relatively large number of progressive nominees. In these districts, it is more difficult for a Democrat to win -- unless the blue wave turns into a blue tsunami.

Our politics is so partisan because identity is all that's left over with our policies having converged.

Posted by at October 12, 2018 3:57 AM