In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under way.
Once the mainstream of the Democratic Party’s electorate settled on a candidate to support in this year’s campaign, however flawed Joe Biden may be, Bernie Sanders’s call for a revolution overturning the current American variant of capitalism no longer had a chance.
The fact is that a decisive majority — 60 percent — of the Democratic electorate is made up of men and women loyal to the centrist party establishment, such as it is, and to organizations, from unions to party committees, that are aligned with it.
And there is little or no evidence that the greater part of the American people have the desire, or the stomach, for political revolution.
Earlier this month, Shom Mazumder, a political scientist at Harvard, published a study, “Why The Progressive Left Fits So Uncomfortably Within The Democratic Party,” that analyzed data from a 2019 survey of 2,900 likely Democratic primary voters. “I saw two clear poles emerge within the Democratic Party,” he writes:
The “establishment” and the “progressive left.” A third group also emerged, and while it’s not as clearly defined as the other two, it has some overlap with the establishment and tends to be more fond of Wall Street, so I’m calling that “neoliberals.”
“Establishment” voters, in this scheme, means center-left voters who make up just over 60 percent of the total. They stood out as favorably inclined to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee — in other words, to the Democratic establishment.
“Progressive left” Democrats, at just under 20 percent, were most favorable to labor unions, Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Socialists of America. These Democrats viewed business interests — as exemplified by Wall Street — negatively, and they weren’t happy about Joe Manchin, the centrist senator from West Virginia, either.
The third group, “neoliberal” Democrats, at 20 percent, is as large as the progressive wing. These voters like what the progressives don’t like — Wall Street, Manchin — and dislike pretty much everything progressives favor, including Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Socialists of America.