Some more moderate Democrats (well, moderate by today’s standards) have been sounding the alarm on this for a while. Their presidential candidates haven’t been listening.
During the 2018 election, the Democrats enjoyed a sizable advantage in favorability among the electorate. We would eventually see that play out as the votes were cast, with a somewhat sizable blue wave sweeping over the country. Democrats retook the House with over 40 seat pickups and Republicans, while gaining seats in the Senate, didn’t get up to the 55 that looked possible earlier in the summer.
Now, that favorability advantage is gone.
A year ago – in the midst of the midterm campaign – Americans viewed the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party. No longer.
— David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) September 9, 2019
As Ed Morrisey over at HotAir writes, this can be almost completely laid at the feet of the leftward lurch the 2020 Democrat presidential candidates have taken.
What happened? Leonhardt reaches back to a July NPR/Marist poll to argue that the party’s progressives are pushing away from populism into straight-out socialism — and that voters won’t buy it. Decriminalizing the border and slavery reparations are now practically de rigueur for presidential hopefuls, but it runs right into a brick wall with the electorate:
The simple answer is that the crazy things the left are pushing, the majority of Americans simply don’t support. Even something like “free public college” can only garner 51%, and that’s before it’s articulated that taxes will have to go up to pay for it.
The support for the “Green New Deal” continues to baffle, but again, when polls ask about it in relation to the government control and cost, public support plummets for it.
It’s still really, really early. Nothing we are seeing now is dispositive of what will happen in 2020. That includes polls that are both good and bad for Republicans. But, what this does show is that the strategy of preaching radical socialism isn’t working for Democrats. Their only real hope is that Biden somehow coasts to the nomination without his eye completely exploding next time.
Here’s the reason this trend extremely important for Trump. The President is never going to garner 50+% favorability. He’s likely to never cross 50% approval outside of Rasmussen’s polling. The way Trump wins is how he won in 2016. He gets his opponent down in the mud and exposes them. If the Democratic party favorability is at parity with Republicans, that’s a huge advantage to Trump because it’s basically giving him a head start.
If the nominee ends up being an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, Trump will immediately have the foil he needs to propel himself to reelection. Neither of them are going to tack to the center, as has been shown necessary in essentially every presidential race in the modern era. Of course, the stakes become much higher if it’s Warren and not Biden though. At that point, we enter Flight 93 election territory.