Jonathan Chait: Democratic candidates have been living in a fantasy world

Jonathan Chait: Democratic candidates have been living in a fantasy world

Earlier today, Allahpundit looked at the NY Times’ latest state-by-state polling which showed that, contrary to national polls which show Trump falling way behind his rivals, the actual race is s tight in places like Michigan and Wisconsin. At present, it looks like a toss-up against Biden and is Trump’s to lose against Warren or Sanders. Writing for New York magazine, Jonathan Chait says this polling shows Democrats have been living in a progressive fantasy world:

Working from the premise that the country largely agrees with them on everything, or that agreeing with the majority of voters on issues is not necessary to win, the campaign has proceeded in blissful unawareness of the extremely high chance that Trump will win again…

The debate has taken shape within a world formed by Twitter, in which the country is poised to leap into a new cultural and economic revolution, and even large chunks of the Democratic Party’s elected officials and voting base have fallen behind the times. As my colleague Ed Kilgore argues, the party’s left-wing intelligentsia have treated any appeals to voters in the center as a sign of being behind the times.

Biden’s paper-thin lead over Trump in the swing states is largely attributable to the perception that he is more moderate than Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Three-quarters of those who would vote for Biden over Trump, but Trump over Warren, say they would prefer a more moderate Democratic nominee to a more liberal one, and a candidate who would find common ground with Republicans over one who would fight for a progressive agenda.

Chait concludes that Warren and Sanders are close enough in the polling that a scandal or a recession could change the dynamic enough to make it possible for them to win, but he ends on this serious note:  “The party should look at its position a year before the election with real fear.”

We have seen some of that fear break into the press. Back in August, there was at the Daily Beast story about concerns among DNC insiders that Trump was “beating us on all fronts.” One of the fronts that of concern was fundraising where the DNC has been lagging behind the RNC for months. Just last week, Politico published a story highlighting the worries of moderate Democrats that Elizabeth Warren’s push for Medicare for All was going to be deadly to them next November.

But those concerns always seem to be overshadowed by the churn of news about impeachment. The Democrats spent two years promising that proof of collusion was just around the corner. It never came and now they are on to something else. The specifics are different but the dynamic is the same. Democrats are still making promises about the Trump takedown to come instead of focusing on the election a year from now.

Agitating Trump’s voters months before an election doesn’t seem terribly smart to me but even Pelosi seems to have bought into it so maybe Dems are seeing something I’m not. It still seems likely to me that this is going to create a predictable backlash that winds up hurting Democrats. And if they have a demi-socialist candidate like Warren running on a free-everything platform at the head of the party, that’s only going to make things worse for her and for the down-ballot moderates who won in purple districts in 2018.

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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023