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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Dems Still Lack ‘Normie’ Cred

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

“Democrats are congratulating themselves that they are now the “normie voter” party. The logic runs like this.

They have recovered from a deficit in the generic Congressional ballot and no longer appear to be headed for a complete drubbing in the November election. They could plausibly hold the Senate and keep their losses in the House relatively modest (though are still highly likely to lose control of that body).

The Democrats can point to several issues on which Republicans are out of step with the country and have contributed to their recovery. Chief among them is abortion, where the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision reversing Roe v. Wade has allowed them to cast the Republicans as intransigent advocates of abortion bans. The public on the other hand is clearly on the side of moderate abortion rights.

Another helpful development is the increased prominence of Donald Trump in the political dialogue and in various specific races. Republicans have a great deal of trouble dissociating themselves from Trump and his endless relitigation of the 2020 election. Some are true disciples of Trump and some just find it too politically difficult, whatever their personal opinions, to put real distance between themselves and the former President. But the end result is being out of step with the public which sees the 2020 election as settled and generally disapproves of Trump’s role in the January 6th events, his inflammatory rhetoric and his disregard of democratic norms.

Finally, Democrats have succeeded in passing stripped down versions of key leglislative priorities, the CHIPS and Science Act and the cheekily name Inflation Reduction Act, both of which are fairly popular with the public and strengthen the Democrats’ argument that they are delivering on their promises. (Of course, the recent decline in gas prices has little to do with Democrats’ priorities and actions and that decline certainly does more for Democrats’ immediate prospects that these pieces of legislation.)

So Democrats are on the right side of public opinion on these issues and are seeing their fortunes improve as a result. Does that make them the normie voter party now?

Not so fast. It may be fair to say that Republicans, by virtue of being associated with abortion bans and with Trump and Trumpism, are not the normie voter party. But that does not mean that Democrats, by virtue of not being those things, are now the normie voter party. Normie voters want more than that—a lot more than that.

Start with the very issue that is currently doing the Democrats the most good: abortion. Democrats are taking advantage of the Dobbs decision and the intent of many pro-life Republican forces to leverage that decision into draconian state abortion laws. This is not what normie voters want (see: Kansas). But on the other hand, neither do normie voters want completely unrestricted access to abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, the default position of much of the Democratic party.

By about 2:1 the public favors at least some restrictions on abortion. Looked at by trimesters, the framework used in Roe v. Wade, Gallup found that 60 percent think abortion should be generally legal in the first three months of pregnancy. But that falls to 28 percent for the second three months and just 13 percent for the final trimester.

This and other data strongly indicate that the median voter position is that abortion should be available without restrictions for the first trimester and then available only with restrictions, such as for rape, incest and the health of the mother, thereafter. This approximates the legal situation in most Western countries and would cover close to 90 percent of the abortions that currently take place.


7 comments on “Teixeira: Dems Still Lack ‘Normie’ Cred

  1. Watcher on

    My initial comment never showed up, so I shall try responding again.

    It would be fine if Ruy only has said focusing on democracy is not enough (and he would have been correct). However, he had a fit over the very real concern that Biden expressed about the semi-fascist direction of the GOP (given that about half of the American electorate will have an election denier on the ballot this fall is a huge cause for concern). He also freaked out at the beginning of last year because the press started using the term “The Big Lie”, claiming he agreed with “every word” the right wing pundit he was quoting complained about. This was the first big red flag I had that he was going beyond useful party criticism.

    As for neoliberalism, that was the only thing he could say he differed from the GOP (and Manchin and Sinema) since he could never provide concrete economic proposals he thought the Dems should be for. I am sorry but you can’t avoid this when you are trying to convince people to change a party’s direction. The fact that he now works for the American Enterprise Institute also makes me wonder if he really wants to be part of the Democratic coalition.

    Does TeixAEIra offer anything other than cultural jihad against wokism? Given that the GOP has always and will always push divisive issues, this amounts to perpetual wack-a-mole on the part of the Dems. It also seems to have limited success if history is any guide. Bill Clinton was able to win because of this strategy but the GOP was still able to effectively counter him and beat his successor.

  2. Watcher on

    I am beginning to think that Ruy TeixAEIra would welcome a red wave because he believes it would validate all his professional bona fides.

    • Victor on

      We have a big problem in the Democratic party with way too many partisans treating criticism of failing strategies as treason.

      How is this any different from MAGA Republicans?

      The country is at a stalemate. Democrats have no mandate and achieve very little.

      Other than a huge course correction, what do you propose other than shooting the messenger?

      • Watcher on

        TeixAEIra goes beyond just “criticizing failing strategies”. He correctly identifies some problems but seems so animated by professional battles and scoring points against the left that his advice is now becoming ludicrous. Spite is not a winning strategy.

        In case you haven’t noticed, MAGA Republicans are all about tearing down democracy these days. The fact that Ruy gets angry that people point that out speaks volumes.

        It may make you feel good, but waging jihad on people in your own coalition is a strange way to victory. (Then again, Mr. I’m-so-concerned-about-neo-liberalism is now working for the American Enterprise Institute so maybe he really doesn’t want to be part of the coalition.)

        • Victor on

          He has said focusing on democracy and neoliberalism isn’t enough, not that it is not worth it. Your arguments clearly show you don’t get his point. No wonder you don’t have your own answers.


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