GRUNWALD: But was it really just bad targeting? I mean, it’s hard to win a Democratic primary when you’re not a Democrat, and you’re expressing contempt for Democrats.

MCELWEE: It was smart of AOC to identify as a Democrat, because most Democrats do believe the things that progressives believe. And most Democrats have quite intense party loyalty. One of the biggest misunderstandings on the left is the idea that the Democratic brand is bad. In fact, the Democratic Party brand is one of the strongest brands in the country. It’s something millions of Americans trust. That includes the African-American and Latino voters who are sympathetic to progressive ideas, and are voters we need to persuade to support our candidates. Running as an independent outsider would have helped Sanders in a general election, but it was definitely a problem in the primary.

Look, the Democratic party is a coalition party with five partners: African-American groups, Latino groups, women’s groups, unions and progressive groups. If you’re only one of five factions, maybe one fourth of the party, you should only expect to win about one fourth or one fifth of the victories. You need to work with other groups in the coalition to achieve political success. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose, that’s how life works. Ocasio-Cortez has figured that out, but not all progressives have.