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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kamarck: Trump May Help Create ‘Large and Sustainable Democratic Majority’

Some observations from “Lessons from the 2022 Primaries – what do they tell us about America’s political parties and the midterm elections?” by Elaine Kamarck at Brookings:

The leftward movement on the Democratic side is far less dramatic than the movement to the right on the Republican side, a trend our colleagues Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein have been writing about for much of the 21stcentury….there are still a large number of Mainstream Democrats running in the Democratic primaries, and they do fairly well. In addition, there are a large number of candidates who call themselves progressives and they too do fairly well. In a finding sure to make Republican ad makers unhappy, there are very few Democratic Socialists running in Democratic primaries and they lose more than half their races. Of the 13 candidates using that label only five won, and all of those races were in very Democratic districts where the Cook Political Report rates them above D+20. The revolution appears to be losing steam.

….Conclusion. In the past decade each major political party has found itself embroiled in factional wars. But the impact on the parties has been very different. On the Republican side candidates have embraced Trump – even when he has not embraced them – and done very well in the primaries because of it.  On the Democratic side, the impact of Bernie Sanders’ revolution has been smaller, more muted, and less successful in primaries. These facts are often overlooked for two reasons. First, the Republican Party works hard to paint all Democrats as socialists who would wreck our economy, defund the police, and open our borders to everyone. Second is the inclination in the press towards what our colleague and distinguished journalist Marvin Kalb has called the “journalistic curse called bothsideism.”[4] The way this has worked in recent years is to assume symmetry – if the Republican Party is being jerked to the far right; the Democratic Party must be being jerked to the far left. As we’ve seen, there’s not much evidence to support that trend among the Democrats but plenty of evidence to support it among the Republicans.”

Some years ago, political scientists Norm Ornstein and Tom Mann popularized the notion of “asymmetric polarization” and argued that it was worse among elites such as lawmakers on the Republican side than it was among lawmakers on the Democratic side.[5] The ongoing work in the Primaries Project offers evidence that polarization is worse on the Republican side than on the Democratic side, and that moving far right is received more enthusiastically among Republican voters than moving far left is among Democratic voters.

The question this poses for the elections of 2022 and beyond is whether the Republican Party’s enthusiastic embrace of Trumpism will, at some point, go so far as to backfire and create a large and sustainable Democratic majority. Early indications are that abortion politics may be the cutting edge of this kind of overreach.

There is reason to hope we are seeing the first stirrings of such a stable congressional Democratic majority, moving into the home stretch of the 2022 midterm campaigns. Experience teaches that personality cults and extremism don’t have a long shelf life. It’s more a matter of when, than “if.”

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