Public mood is trending more Liberal in the wake of Trumpism


For all you "too far left" naysayers, chew on this:

Democrats worry that they’ll nominate a presidential candidate who’s too liberal to win a general election, but liberal policies are what the majority of Americans want now. That’s the intriguing finding of an analysis by UNC professor emeritus James Stimson, a leading figure in American public opinion research.

In announcing his most recent analysis, Stimson wrote: “The annual estimate for 2018 is the most liberal ever recorded in the 67-year history of Mood, just slightly higher than the previous high point of 1961.”

I'm sure many of the Old Guard (Rob C) would/will tell us this is a predictable swing based on who is in the White House, and that is surely a contributing factor. But I believe it's also a trend that will continue, as Millennials get more politically active and Gen Z hit the voting age. That's why it's critical we focus our GOTV efforts at those younger folks, who are much less prone to fall for the Right's constantly re-hashed "tax cuts spur job creation!" and "government regulation is bad!" mantras. Here's more on the Presidential effect:

Indeed the shift is so strong that Stimson said that if the national election were held today, Democrats would win the presidency and both houses of Congress. However, the positive sentiment for Democrats, he said, could be offset somewhat by the quality of candidates and ingrained voting patterns in red states.

Nonetheless, the Mood measurement has been remarkably accurate in presidential and congressional elections. It indicated the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 as the analytical instrument showed the most conservative mood since public attitudes were first consistently measured in 1952. It revealed a conservative turn in 2016 as voters reacted to eight years of liberal policy under President Obama, though Stimson said he was still surprised by Donald Trump’s victory.

"Victory" is not how I would describe earning 3 million less popular votes than your opponent. A better word would be "Finagle," but that gives Trump too much credit for taking advantage of a hopelessly archaic system.

And as for the "too far left" crowd, I would echo Jared Bernstein on that subject:

It’s true that we can’t know whether the policy positions of the most progressive candidates are electoral winners, either in the primary or the general election. There’s just far too much political uncertainty in the air to make such calls, an uncertainty driven by the rise of economic challenges and market failures that rocked ordinary voters.

But the “too far left” answer is hardly a rigorous, scientific, reliable finding. It’s speculative, chin-stroking punditry, ungrounded impressions, free-floating nervousness and a failure to recognize and/or appreciate the evolving demands of the Democratic base. It should be ignored. The best way forward for the party, the candidates and the country is to shut out the scolds and allow the debate to take us wherever it goes.

I can't remember who it was, but several years ago somebody described the Democratic Primary process as a "Policy Incubator." Not just floating ideas that might attract votes, but actually refining those ideas. Right now, there are over 20 very intelligent people vying for the Democratic nomination. This is (not yet) the time to be asking "who," it is the time to be asking "what." What policies are being discussed, and what will those policies produce if they are enacted? If we answer those questions first, the "who" will likely become much more clear.



One thing I do worry about...

The Democratic field is huge right now, which means exposure is at a premium. If you'll recall, Trump monopolized the GOP debates, and in doing so he elevated himself to the top of the ticket. The fact it was nonsensical easily-debunked gibberish didn't seem to matter.

So moving forward, we should (at least attempt to) evaluate the Dem candidates on policy instead of personality. I know, it's a lot harder than it sounds. but we should try.