Democrats skip labels to overcome party divide

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Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes is endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D.S.C.), who represent different wings of their party.

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Why this matters: Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor is one of several Democratic candidates this year not embracing or abandoning labels such as “progressive” or “liberal.” Instead, they are campaigning with one foot in both the world and showcasing a new mold – and potential electoral path – for their embattled party.

  • “I know we can govern at our best when we have all these diverse interests at the table, all these diverse experiences at the table,” Barnes told Nerdshala in an interview.

In Georgia’s gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams “His party has fans on both wings,” The New York Times wrote About her ability to transcend labels in a recent article.

  • And one of the state’s new Democratic senators, John Osoff, also embraces this hybrid-dem mold.
  • While he is more liberal than Abrams and does not lean into liberal policy phrases, he agrees with many of the Wing’s core principles, such as the new republic noted.

In New York, newly inaugurated Mayor Eric Adams by no means a progressive hero, but he did get approval The city’s largest public sector association.

  • District Council 37 chose Adams after seriously considering backing its more progressive challenger, City Controller Scott Stringer.
  • Adams also successfully formed a winning coalition last year that brought unions together with black and Latino voters, focusing less on labels and more on practicality.

big picture: It is not that these candidates are not supporters of liberal issues or progressive platforms – in fact, the opposite is true.

  • The contrast between the 2018 campaign and this era of polarized politics, they are now pushing ideological silos to try to forge a winning coalition.
  • This is especially true in places that are not necessarily democratic areas.
  • Barnes told Nerdshala, “In 2022, we’ll have to do more to make sure we’re not only listening to the debate within the party, but listening to what voters are saying, from real-world experiences.” People are dealing.”
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By numbers: In 2021 Youth Survey According to Harvard Kennedy School’s Politics Institute, 76% of young voters are rejecting partisanship and seeking a “more open mind” in politics.

  • Some Democratic strategists say that a hybrid candidate model is a way of trying to appeal not only to Democratic-base voters, but to prefer independents and softer Republicans who have lost politically – especially in the post-Trump era. .
  • A glimpse of this came in the special election for Ohio’s 11th House District last summer, when progressive Nina Turner did not run front and center with support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
  • Despite being a co-chair of Sanders’ presidential campaign, Turner and his team didn’t want to give his opponents an easy way to debate his relationship with a progressive icon that would pit him against Biden, or make him more Will not be willing to work with liberals. Democrats.

In last fall’s Virginia gubernatorial race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe — who fought for progressive touchstones like Medicaid expansion and increased ballot access in his state — was careful to appear too far in his race against conservative Republican Glenn Youngkin.

  • While McAuliffe invited and campaigned with Abrams—who also sent fundraising appeals on her behalf—he avoided other prominent progressives, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.). told the Times,

What are they saying: Democratic activists and advisers told Nerdshala that his party’s candidates should avoid nationalizing their race, ignore Washington’s drama and focus on ordinary people.

  • “The more complex and costly this issue is, the more you have to find those brief and powerful connection points with the voters you need to persuade,” said Democratic pollster and adviser Joel Benson.
  • Fellow Hillary Clinton campaign alum Jesse Ferguson told Nerdshala: “It’s more important for people to believe in a candidate and see them authentic than to have the right labels on their jackets.”
  • “It’s not ‘progressive’ Democrats or ‘moderate’ Democrats – it’s ‘Democrats-that-deliver,'” Ferguson said.


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