Are Democrats Moving Dangerously to the Left?

In the New York Times today, Jonathan Martin and Sydney Ember write:

Bernie Sanders-Style Politics Are Defining 2020 Race, Unnerving Moderates

Two months into the presidential campaign, the leading Democratic contenders have largely broken with consensus-driven politics and embraced leftist ideas on health care, taxes, the environment and Middle East policy that would fundamentally alter the economy, elements of foreign policy and ultimately remake American life.

Dan Pfeiffer isn’t happy:

I get Pfeiffer’s point, but it’s incomplete. If a topic polls at, say, 55 percent support, that doesn’t automatically make it bipartisan or mainstream. Maybe it means that 100 percent of Democrats support it and only 20 percent of Republicans. I think that would probably qualify it as a “leftist” idea.

So how do the four topics mentioned in the Times article poll? This is just a rough guesstimate based on recent polls I could find that broke out partisan affiliation, but it looks something like this:¹

All of these are expressed as net support (i.e., percent support minus percent opposed). Higher taxes on the rich polls as genuinely bipartisan and mainstream. Support for Palestinians vs. Israel is polarized, but remains net negative among both parties. Medicare for All is clearly a leftist policy, as is raising taxes to end fossil fuel use.

Of these four, then, the only one that you could call truly mainstream is raising taxes on the rich. The other three are legitimately leftist. None of this is to say that Democratic presidential candidates should or shouldn’t support them, just that it’s wise to remain clear-eyed about exactly what they mean.

¹Here are the polls I used. Medicare for All: Morning Consult. Fossil fuel use: YouGov. Higher taxes on wealthy: Politico/Morning Consult. Support for Israel: Gallup.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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