There’s zero question that President Donald Trump has moved the Republican Party to the right — tonally and on things like immigration policy — over the past few years. What is less well-covered is how far Democrats have tacked to the left in recent years, and how there appears to be some level of unhappiness within the American electorate about the liberalness of the opposition party.
New data from a Quinnipiac University poll paints that unrest in stark relief.
Asked whether the “Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, too far to the right, or would you say the Democratic Party hasn’t moved too far in either direction”, nearly half — 47%! — of respondents say that the party has moved too far left. Asked hat same question of the Republican Party and just 37% say it has moved too far right.
Almost 6 in 10 men (57%) say Democrats have moved too far left as do 55% of whites with a college degree. Whites, generally speaking, are much more likely to say the party has moved too far left (53%) as compared to Hispanics (33%) and blacks (17%).
All of which is very interesting — and should be worrisome for a Democratic Party establishment already worried that several of their leading presidential candidates are too liberal for the country at large.
Remember that the positions that one or several Democratic candidates for president had advocated for during the primary season so far include:
* Eliminating all private health insurance in favor of a single, government-run system
* The “Green New Deal,” a massive (and massively expensive) overhaul of the way in which we consume and think about energy in this country
* Mandatory buybacks of AR-15s and AK-47s
These are not views that a majority of the country holds. (Worth noting: Not all Democrats in the race hold any or all of these positions.) In some cases — Medicare for All’s elimination of private insurance, for example — what these Democratic candidates are for are not even supported by a strong majority of Democrats.
With the rise of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic field — and the financial problems being experienced by former Vice President Joe Biden — the concern about choosing a nominee too liberal to beat even Trump has hit a fever pitch.
Names being bandied about as late entrants include Hillary Clinton and John Kerry — trusted voices of the pragmatic politics that the candidacies of Warren and Sanders are openly rejecting.
While such a last-minute candidacy by Clinton, Kerry or anyone else seems unlikely, the very fact that some Democrats are having an open conversation about whether they need someone new speaks to the agita within certain blocs of the party regarding the decidedly liberal positions adopted by many of the candidates.
The origins of this shift are varied and have been happening for years. Some of it is a reaction to Trump, some of it came out of the bitterness of the 2016 Sanders-Clinton primary fight. But it all puts the party at danger of losing moderates (if there are any left).
The last-minute desire for a new candidate is also driven by the fear of what Trump will say and do to someone like Warren or Sanders — deride them as socialists who want to take your guns and your money — in a general election setting. (I’d argue Trump will say that about whoever Democrats nominate, but that’s a different argument.)
All primaries push candidates to the left. And typically the general election is spent tracking back to the middle to court moderate and swing voters. But the Q poll suggests that Democrats need to be very aware that their current positioning is decidedly too far left for a big chunk of America’s liking.