I didn’t see what The New York Times thinks it sees: “Democrats Embrace Liberal Insurgents.” I didn’t find many looking for the local version of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, though I found a lot who asked me, “Alexandria who?” People told me that if someone promises Medicare for all, they need to also hear how she plans to deliver it. Because unlike folks who tweet about it from Brooklyn, they tried—and in many cases, tried and failed—to get health care instead of just insurance out of Obamacare. They remember that not fixing the system was part of the Democratic platform and question changes of heart that coincide with changes in polling.
You don’t have to always understand it but you do have to realize there are truths at work here. Social Security, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and housing assistance are a way of life now. One can accept food stamps but still think handouts are for the lazy. People can feel cheated working for minimum wage at a Walmart full of junk made overseas without being anti-immigrant racists. Trump understands all this better than the Democrats now speaking for their party, and that makes his voters ignore a lot of other things.
So polls asking whether a midterm voter supports Trump, or approves of his performance, may be asking the wrong question. If Democrats insist on November being Trump versus Trump, a referendum on the first half of his term to see if he gets to play out the second half, all without themselves bringing something new and real forward, they may not like the answer that voters give.