What is it that lefty pundits can see that Democratic presidential candidates — with all their highly-paid teams of election experts — can’t?
How to win an election, apparently.
Over on the far left, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes that the latest battleground states poll shows that Democrats are living “in a fantasy world.” Chait starts off praising the Democratic 2018 House contenders for wading “into hostile territory” to flip 40 House districts, using a “formula centered on narrowing their target profile by avoiding controversial positions, and focusing obsessively on Republican weaknesses.” Party affiliation aside, Chait is right — that’s how you flip seats, Dem or Rep. But he worries, where I’d be jubilant, that the “Democratic presidential field has largely abandoned that model.”
Chait goes on:
A new batch of swing state polls from the New York Times ought to deliver a bracing shock to Democrats. The polls find that, in six swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona — Trump is highly competitive. He trails Joe Biden there by the narrowest of margins, and leads Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Normally, it is a mistake to overreact to the findings of a single poll. In general, an outlier result should only marginally nudge our preexisting understanding of where public opinion stands. This case is different.
Indeed. As Chait is forced to conclude, “if you’ve been relying on national polls for your picture of the race, you’re probably living in la-la land.”
Normally this is where I’d advise you to read the whole thing, but we are talking about Chait here. It’s just impossible for him to write an analysis piece about candidates in his own party without throwing in all sorts of anti-Trump talking points. When I want my readers to know what’s going on in the Democratic field, they don’t need to wade through horse hooey about Trump’s “abuses of power” or his “attempts to eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans.”
So my advice is not to click over. You can thank me later.
Meanwhile, a bit less left of Chait, Jay Caruso looked at the same polls and came to a similar conclusion. Writing for the UK’s Independent, Caruso argues that “Democrats are over-correcting for 2020 — and they can’t beat Trump that way.”
ASIDE: Maybe I’m being unfair to Caruso by lumping him in with the left. But the whole NeverTrump movement looks to me, if I may borrow from Barack Obama, like a bunch of dead-enders bitterly clinging to a Washington Generals version of GOP which is dead or dying. And to that I can only say: “Good riddance.”
But back to the subject at hand.
Caruso notes that Obama-to-Trump voters who threw the Rust Belt to Trump in 2016 “may not want to go all in with Sanders’ or Warren’s big spending plans, which include Medicare-for-All.” He adds, “While PA, MI, and WI are no longer the manufacturing powerhouses they were 40 or 50 years ago, they still employ a decent number of union workers who have great healthcare benefits through their employers.”
So, who wants to trade in the generous healthcare package that the UAW worked so hard to get for you, in exchange for higher taxes and worse treatment?
ANOTHER ASIDE: As I got towards the end of Caruso’s article, I found myself shaking my head at this line: “Healthcare remains a critical concern for American voters, and, despite the Affordable Care Act, many want to see improvements.” Despite the ACA? DESPITE? Never mind what I said in my first aside; Jay is apparently now fully on the left side of the aisle. Just because you can’t fall in love with Trump, doesn’t mean you have to fall in love with Obamacare… not if you are or ever were an actual conservative.
Those with concerns about the Democratic field’s far-left drift even include…
Yes, Nancy Pelosi.
Writing for Bloomberg on Sunday, Sahil Kapur echoed Pelosi’s warning that “those liberal ideas that fire up the party’s base are a big loser when it comes to beating President Donald Trump.” Appearing late last week at a Bloomberg roundtable, the two-time Democrat House Speaker told the gathered reporters that “What works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan.” Politically, one must assume, because nothing actually works in San Francisco. Trust me, I lived there. “Remember November,” she said. “You must win the Electoral College.”
And my favorite bit from Kapur’s writeup of the event:
“As a left-wing San Francisco liberal I can say to these people: ‘What are you thinking?’” Pelosi said. “You can ask the left — they’re unhappy with me for not being a socialist.”
She left her bleeding heart in San Francisco, I guess — but Pelosi’s political savvy is always with her.
Not that I’m getting cocky about Trump’s chances next November or anything, but I didn’t need a fancy New York Times poll to tell me that the Dem field had moved too far to the left. All I needed to see was a show of hands.