How Democratic primary voters are pushing the party off a left cliff

Ummmm, they’re not.  So much goodness in this latest Thomas Edsall column (I mean, seriously, all he does every week is get some of the smartest political scientists studying American politics to talk about how their research pertains to contemporary politics– so cool!).  And I particularly liked this part:

I asked Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at Tufts who is one of the directors of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, whether Democratic primary voters are pushing presidential candidates to take stands on issues further to the left than the general electorate would accept.

Contrary to the view of many political analysts, Schaffner countered with data suggesting that this is not the case.

“I actually don’t think Democratic primary voters are substantially more liberal than Democrats more broadly,” he wrote, adding that many of the party’s new policy initiatives are, in fact, “favored by a majority of those who voted in 2016.” [emphases mine]

He cited the following results from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study survey.

Who favored granting legal status to immigrants? Democratic primary voters: 79 percent support; Democrats in general: 77 percent support; all voters: 55 percent support.

Who would require minimum amounts of renewable energy? Democratic primary voters: 85 percent support; Democrats in general: 80 percent support; all voters: 61 percent support.

Ban assault rifles? Democratic primary voters: 91 percent support; Democrats in general: 84 percent support; all voters: 64 percent.

Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders? Democratic primary voters: 84 percent support; Democrats in general: 78 percent support; all voters: 67 percent.

How about raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour? Democratic primary voters: 92 percent support; Democrats in general: 90 percent support; all voters: 65 percent.

Along similar lines, four political scientists, John Sides and Christopher Warshaw of George Washington University, and Lynn Vavreck and Chris Tausanovitch of UCLA, write in a March 2018 paper, “On the Representativeness of Primary Electorates” that “primary voters are frequently characterized as an ideologically extreme subset of their party, and thus partially responsible for increasing party polarization in government.” On the contrary, they find “that primary voters are similar to rank and file voters in their party” and thus “the composition of primary electorates does not exert a polarizing effect above what might arise from voters in the party as a whole.”

Jacobson of UCSD strongly agreed, arguing that Democrats’ intense dislike of Trump will make them willing to forgive a candidate who fails to adopt all their favored policies if the candidate looks like a winner:

Most Democrats will have as their prime goal — far more important than positions taken by the candidates — making sure Trump does not have a second term.

Who you gonna believe– a bunch of political scientists using empirical data or all the pundits who just know the Democrats are going way too far left.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to How Democratic primary voters are pushing the party off a left cliff

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Guess who benefits from propaganda about how the far left has taken over the Democratic Party and how everyone knows the far left wants to flood the country by opening borders, to raise everyone’s taxes and to take everyone everything they had when they die.
    Who are you going to believe – the GOP propaganda machine or the fact based political scientists or even your lying eyes and ears?

  2. homeys44 says:

    So “require minimum amounts of renewable energy” turns into 100% renewables in the Green New Deal and “granting legal status to immigrants” (???) means getting rid of ICE. So, don’t worry Democrats, Trump is crazier than you and Krugman has assured us that nobody will vote for a squish like Howard Shultz.

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