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.
Progressive Democrats’ disappointment with House coronavirus legislation this week caps a frustrating start to 2020 for the left flank of the party, which has seen its favored presidential candidates exit the race, down-ballot hopefuls meet mixed results and some priorities stall in Congress.
House Democratic leaders left a plan pushed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to guarantee Americans’ paychecks up to $100,000 out of their latest package aimed at combating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
That comes as the group has been unable to get the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on some priorities, such as expanding Medicare and the Green New Deal. And the presidential candidates backed by most progressives, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, lost to former Vice President Joe Biden, a relative moderate.
Despite polls showing popularity for much of their platform, interviews with more than 20 politicians, activists and aides showed the party’s left flank has grown frustrated that it hasn’t made more progress since Democrats took control of the House a year and a half ago.
“Congress is infamous for having to try to catch up to where people are, and they’re doing a pretty crappy job of catching up in this moment,” said Paco Fabian, the director of campaigns at Our Revolution, the progressive electoral group started by Mr. Sanders after his 2016 run for president.
Mr. Sanders, however, said those feeling demoralized need to “take a deep breath.” He said polls that show progressive ideas growing more popular are a sign of success.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in March found that 67% of Democratic primary voters supported a Medicare for All system, while a Pew Research survey in January found that 63% of U.S. adults supported making public college free, both priorities of Mr. Sanders’s during his 2020 presidential run.
Still, exit polls in many states found the share of Democratic primary voters who identified as moderate grew this cycle, while fewer Democrats called themselves liberal.Alex Thompson at Politico:
Three highly-touted liberal House candidates — Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Robert Emmons in Illinois, and Morgan Harper in Ohio — lost their primary races against more moderate members of Congress. They are now playing defense as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the four members of the “squad,” faces a stiff primary challenge in Michigan. And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who’s managed a late-career makeover into a left-wing darling, with endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressive groups, is consistently outpolled by primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).
The movement has also had limited influence on the proposals House Democrats have put forward to address the coronavirus, with leadership rejecting its most ambitious ideas.