The Democrats’ Trump Card

Now that the 2020 silly season is gearing up, it looks as if the Democrats’ presidential primary field could be as crowded as the Republicans’ was in 2016. Steven Teles has a piece over at The New Republic that examines how a Democrat might win that party’s nomination using a strategy similar to the one pursued by Donald Trump in 2016—let the broad field of candidates divide the vote of the mainstream while he went after an sizable niche that was larger than anyone else’s share of the divided larger pie.

A recent survey by More in Common, a bipartisan think tank, identified a section of voters it called “progressive activists.” These people account for a disproportionate percentage of voters in Democratic primaries. But they are, More in Common found, just 8 percent of the American electorate as a whole. In other words, many more potential primary voters may be out there who would be open to a different kind of ideological mix than the one offered by the major Democratic candidates. And because no one is fighting for (and splitting) their share of the vote, they could end up deciding the Democratic primary.

In 1995, the writer Michael Lind argued that the center in American politics was divided between a “moderate middle” of people who are fiscally conservative but socially liberal (they’d probably vote for Michael Bloomberg) and what Lind called a “radical center” of people who are economically more left-wing—angry about the powerful moneyed interests who, they believe, have rigged the economy in their favor—but more traditional on questions of social order and skeptical of the nation’s governing elites. New America’s Lee Drutman recently found that these kinds of voters make up 29 percent of the entire American electorate. They are, essentially, the people politicians fight over in the battleground states in the general election every four years. But they are also important in the nominating contests. If a Democratic candidate could convince a sizable portion to participate in the primary, she might win the nomination.

Read the whole thing.

One thing that stands out to me in this theory is that the potential group of Democrats identified is economically radical but socially conservative, meaning that they’re likely put off by the social policies of ¡Ocasio! She Guevara and her ilk.

Things are about to get interesting. I’d better check the popcorn inventory.



3 thoughts on “The Democrats’ Trump Card

  1. Quite often this particular style will lead to the general second choice being on top, as the people will rank the “real competition” near the bottom of their preferences. As their own pick starts washing out, selection bias will keep what is in any other world a reasonable second choice from becoming second, as they’d already rejected him.

    “I already decided that another Bush would be rank 11, thus, Trump ends up being higher than that.”

    The Never Trumpers are probably mainly made up of the subset that initially took Trump as a candidate seriously, and rejected him.

  2. I don’t understand this one.

    Near as I can tell there’s no faction in the Democrat constituency which is ‘socially conservative.’ Closest to that MIGHT be the Black Community. I myself don’t think the Hispanic Community is engaged enough that their social views (GOP has been counting on those, forever-) will make a difference in how they vote.

  3. The GOP pretty consistently gets 30% of the Hispanic vote. The dirty secret of Democratic politics is that they really *need* that 95% of the Black female vote they get. The Black vote in presidential years is about 14% of the total. About 70% of the Black vote is female. Thus the Dems go in counting on 95% of 70% of 14% of the vote. That is very nearly 10% of the total that they absolutely depend on.
    In 2016 female Black voters appear to have “stayed home” in Detroit and probably cost Hillary Michigan. My Black female students told me ahead of time that Black women didn’t like Hillary. Hmmm.
    Trump may have gotten 7-8% of the Black female vote in MI and 20+% of the black male vote. Dems had better figure that out or they will have problems.
    If they do figure it out I think you’ll see a big push for Michelle Obama rather than Kamala Harris. I don’t think that will help all that much.

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