Hmmm: Winner of first Daily Kos 2020 Democratic primary mega-poll is...

Newsworthy if for no other reason than that it’s probably the first encouraging poll data Elizabeth Warren has had. Lotta clunkers before this.

How reliable is it, though? It’s not a scientific poll, just a straw poll of dKos’s many readers. On the other hand, a lot of readers participated — 35,000. And Dave Weigel is right that Kos’s audience seems to be broader than just the left-most niche of the party. Lots of progressives there, of course, but also plenty of “just win, baby” Democrats who look like they’d tolerate a more centrist nominee if they thought he/she could beat Trump.

Bernie Sanders led Hillary comfortably in all of their 2016 straw polls. He is … less formidable this year.

Elizabeth Warren can now rest easy about her political fortunes, having secured the backing of a group that was all-in before the 2008 cycle on … John Edwards?

Today’s numbers are what Warren hoped would happen by jumping into the race early, I think. She’s worried about splitting voters with Bernie and probably suspects that if he jumped first the excitement over Sanders 2.0 might have overshadowed her own launch. Now she has a leg up. Whether that’s a pure function of her having media coverage to herself lately or if some of those newly won voters will stick around even after Bernie announces (if he announces?), we shall see.

It’s interesting to see O’Rourke outperforming Sanders in a dKos poll too despite all the progressive angst lately about him being too centrist-y to be the nominee. He’s already planning to hit the trail — sort of:

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is asking aides to create an itinerary for him to take a solo road trip outside of Texas where he would “pop into places” such as community college campuses, as he considers whether to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Mr. O’Rourke’s trip would begin from his El Paso home and keep him away from Iowa and other early-voting states. Mr. O’Rourke doesn’t plan to be accompanied by staff or press, though he may document the trip on social media and allow people he meets to do so as well. He doesn’t plan to make a final decision on a presidential bid until at least February.

That’s clever. It reminds me of Scott Brown’s pickup-truck gimmick in 2009 that won him a Senate seat (briefly) in Massachusetts. Every Dem in the field will be angling to prove that they’re the One True Populist, belied by their elaborate, hugely expensive campaign machinery. O’Rourke’s going to do an “unplugged” tour first, just an unassuming man and his car, to try to manufacture grassroots buzz. At the end he’ll say that The People he met demanded that he run, therefore he has no choice. Biden’s performed the best in scientific polls of the national Democratic electorate thus far but O’Rourke has already landed consistently in the top three of those surveys while also performing surprisingly well in activist straw polls like this one. If he’s a flash in the pan, the flash hasn’t faded yet.

In lieu of an exit question, new data on Democrats from Gallup:

Twenty-five years ago, the share of Democrats that called themselves “conservative” equaled the share that called themselves “liberal.” Twenty-five years later, the ratio is four to one in favor of the latter term. When I was younger, during the Reagan revolution, such was the baggage of the word “liberal” that most Democratic politicians with national aspirations would deny being one when accused. Nowadays you still rarely hear Dems describe themselves as “liberal” — but that’s because they’ve adopted “progressive” instead. The people most apt to identify as “liberal” are somewhat more centrist Democrats. (Truly centrist Dems will simply claim that they dislike labels or whatever when asked their ideological affiliation.) Whether the graph above captures a dramatic ideological shift or more of a shift in nomenclature, with “liberal” becoming an anodyne catch-all term meaning “of the left” as it’s lost the potency of its Reagan-era stigma, I don’t know. Gotta be some of both.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023