By Jon Dougherty
The Democratic Party establishment is about to experience the same kind of internal warfare the GOP faced in 2010 and beyond with the rise of the so-called “Tea Party” movement, and it’s liable to have a deleterious effect on the party in 2020.
The rising “Democratic Socialist” faction has only just begun to flex its muscle, having won a few seats during the November midterms but clearly looking to capitalize on those gains in 2020 and beyond. Its members are feisty, defiant, fiercely suspicious of the Democratic hierarchy, and champing at the bit to shed the last vestiges of political moderation and take the party full Marxist.
And to that end, several of the party’s declared 2020 presidential contenders are clearly ready to adopt that economic model because their campaigns have stuck gauged the political winds and they are convinced that’s the direction their party is headed, thanks in large part to the popularity of the Democratic Socialist faction.
But the party’s Marxist newbies are going to be upset by who the young Marxist Millennials are choosing: A couple of establishment white guys, at least according to early polling in New Hampshire, an early primary state.
According to Emerson College polling, Sanders has taken the early lead with 27 percent of the Democrat vote, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden with 25 percent. Outside of Washington newbie Sen. Kamala Harris of California, none of the other declared Democratic candidates break single digits. A few — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Texas Rep. Julian Castrol — aren’t polling enough to move off of 0 percent, while Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and a couple others whose names no one has heard of, are polling around 1 percent.
Former NYC Mayor and billionaire financial news founder Michael Bloomberg is polling around 2 percent, while Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Roourke are both at 5 percent.
Granted, it’s early, but remember, Sanders’ Democratic campaign was electric, especially compared to the moribund Hillary Clinton campaign, and it’s very possible he would have gotten the Democratic nod had the fix not already been in for the former first lady.
More on Emerson’s results:
Among voters ages 18-34, Bernie Sanders has a large lead with 44% of the vote. Joe Biden follows at 11%, Elizabeth Warren has 9%, and Kamala Harris is tied with Beto O’Rourke with 8% apiece.
Voters 35-54 years old prefer Biden (30%), then Sanders (26%). Harris takes 14%, Sen. Amy Klobuchar takes 10%, and Warren receives 7% of the vote.
Among voters aged 55-74 years, Joe Biden leads with 30%, followed by Sanders (18%) and Harris (13%), with Warren and Klobuchar tied in fourth with 8% apiece.
Among voters aged 75 and older, Biden leads with 39%, followed by Warren (18%), Klobuchar (11%), Sanders (10%) and Harris with 8%.
Now, the really interesting part is that this insurgent Marxist-Socialism is worrying the party’s establishment wing. As Reuters notes, the fear is that an eventual Democratic nominee who is too far Left will make it even harder to defeat POTUS Donald Trump:
Liberal Democratic presidential contenders’ rush to embrace the left’s most ambitious proposals has some Democrats worried there could be a price to pay when they try to defeat President Donald Trump next year.
Party activists have been energized as Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and other candidates endorsed plans to provide Medicare coverage to every American, some form of tuition-free college, a national $15 minimum wage and the so-called “Green New Deal” advocated by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
But Trump and his allies in the Republican Party have seized on those stances to attack the Democratic 2020 field as outside the American political mainstream — a claim the president plans to make throughout his re-election campaign, according to sources with knowledge of his strategy.
Some Democrats fear the argument has potency. They worry the primary may produce a nominee who will not appeal to centrist working and middle-class voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but whom Democrats believe they can win back.
“The big progressive programs are popular in a caucus or primary electorate, but probably don’t move the needle among voters who want to find someone who will change Washington by tilting the system to favor people in the middle — not the very rich or the very poor,” said Jeff Link, an Iowa Democrat who worked for former President Barack Obama’s campaign.
Specifically, the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates for congressional office will use the socialist ideas being pushed by all the top Democrats to portray them not simply as extreme but as job-and-opportunity killing proposals that are unaffordable and will wreck the country on a scale akin to Venezuela.
What’s more, Democratic presidential contenders and the eventual nominee won’t be able to come off of those unaffordable policy proposes (“Medicare for all” alone will cost north of $32 trillion over a decade) because that’s what the party’s increasingly Left-wing base wants.
Democrats are “afraid to tell their base what is practical” and instead are offering policies that have little-to-no chance of being enacted, according to Bryan Lanza, a former campaign aide to the president and who regularly defends him on cable news, Reuters noted.
Now, throw unelectable policies in with an old, white nominee at a moment in our history when young-ish liberal/socialist Democratic voters have been conditioned to reject “old” and “white,” and it’s very possible the Democratic Party could be in for some cataclysmic times (and years?) that will only bode well for the Grand Ol’ Party.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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