The conventional wisdom inside the beltway and on the sets of cable news outlets is that the Democratic Party has grown, perhaps inexorably, more liberal over the course of the Obama era. It is not hard to find liberal Democrats who believe that the Obama presidency failed to meet their expectations. As it happens, though, a new McClatchy-Marist survey found that a plurality of Democrats agree that it is time to move on from the Obama era of Democratic governance.
According to that survey, 47 percent of Democrats agree that “It’s more important to have a Democratic nominee for president who will move in a different direction.” 45 percent would contend, however, that “It’s more important to have a Democratic nominee for president who will continue President Obama’s policies.”
Some might say that this is a virtual tie, and the margin of error for this subgroup of 462 Democratic and Democrat-leaning respondents (4.6 percent) renders this finding easily dismissed. When you dig a bit deeper into this poll’s results, however, this survey becomes a bit more interesting.
President Obama’s fiercest critics on the left are, well, on the left… The far-left. Those who proudly count themselves members of the Elizabeth Warren Wing of the Democratic Party often echo the Massachusetts senator’s criticisms of the president as too close to those in the banking sector of the economy.
“They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes,” Warren said of the Obama administration in an interview with Salon. “Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education. And it happened over and over and over.”
It stands to reason that those in Warren’s camp – urban, coastal, highly educated, and relatively well-off liberals – would be those most predisposed to want to move on from the Obama era. That’s not the case, according to McClatchy-Marist.
According to this survey, those who identify as “strong Democrats” and “very liberal” are most likely to contend that that the next Democratic nominee should be someone committed to preserving the gains of the Obama era and maintaining the course for the nation set by the 44th President of the United States. Similarly, those Democrats who make $50,000 per year or more and who are 45-years-old or older also agree that the next Democratic presidential nominee must be cast in the same mold as Obama.
Democrats ages 18 to 29, surprisingly, tend to disagree that the next Democratic nominee must pledge to continue down the course set by Obama. Those ages 30 to 44 strongly disagree with this assertion. Only 33 percent of Democratic voters in their 30s and early 40s think the next Democratic nominee must be an Obama Democrat. Similarly, voters who make less than $50,000 are not thrilled about a third term for Obama. The views of these groups align more closely with those Democrats who identify as “moderate” or “conservative,” both of which are made up of a majority of respondents who want to see the Democratic Party move on from Obama’s style of governance.
Surely, there is a fair bit of overlap when it comes to Democrats who think Obama has been too cautious in pursuing progressive reforms and those who believe Obama is excessively liberal, but this survey seems to indicate that at least a plurality of those Democrats who want to see their party move on from Obama do not want to see it veer further leftward. That conclusion flies in the face of conventional wisdom that presupposes the Democratic Party is hurtling down an unalterable course toward the fringes of left-wing thought.
It’s only one poll, and its findings are not entirely conclusive, but this is an interesting counterpoint for those who claim that Democrats who are unhappy with Obama are only unhappy because he isn’t liberal enough.