Measuring just how hostile the Democratic Party is to Progressives
Let's compare two sets of headlines. One set from September, at the end of the 2022 primaries...
...and one set from mid-November, at the end of the 2022 general election.
How is it possible that progressives could expand their numbers in the general election, while getting smacked around in the primaries?
While liberals often felt deflated during the 2022 primary season, many are now expressing vindication, touting the results as proof that they can be a safe general election bet.
“Leading up to the midterms there was a whole conversation [about] what a liability progressives were for Democrats. The narrative was that moderates were the saviors of the party,” said Michael Starr Hopkins, a liberal Democratic strategist. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
On the surface it shows that the general public is more receptive to the progressive agenda than the Democratic Party. But how can that be when the Democratic voters are more progressive than Republican voters?
If you only now realized that we don't have a functioning democracy, welcome to reality.
For starters, the Democratic Party unifies for the incumbent...unless that incumbent is a progressive. Then they are on their own.
Progressives can only win in open districts (in 2022 the progressive-backed candidate won 14 out of the 25 open-seat primaries), and even then they often have to fight an establishment candidate. The Democratic Party almost never endorses a progressive.
And among more moderate Democrats, progressive losses are seized upon to suggest that the party’s base is still pro-establishment — or at least satisfied with the status quo. For instance, Jeffries, a known critic of the progressives in his party, was asked in August if he thought the progressive movement had stopped gaining ground. He responded, “Politically, the left did have some success in primarying Democratic incumbents in 2018, and 2020 … But a lot of their electoral momentum began to dissipate shortly after Biden was elected … Perhaps the voters are sending us a message.”
This is a good point to note that Hakeem Jeffries, who never passes up on a chance to sh*t on progressives, is a long-time member of the Progressive Caucus. Which just proves that calling yourself a progressive means next to nothing.
This year the progressive primary win rate was down from 2020, but there was always an immense amount of money going against progressives from crypto-millionaires and the United Democracy Project, a pro-Israel super PAC funded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Nevertheless, the 538 article did end with this observation.
But it’s also important to remember that progressives are playing the long game. They may not have won as often as their opponents. Still, many did win their primaries and will join a growing number already on the inside. It may not be a sudden transformation, but progressives are slowly gaining strength within the Democratic Party with every passing election cycle.
But when will they finally show the courage to flex those political muscles?