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Progressive Dem Majority Emerges, Warren Rises

Don Rose 19 June 2019 No Comment

As we approach next week’s Democratic debates, recent polling shows that despite Joe Biden’s consistent double-digit lead, a majority of Democratic voters prefers a clear-cut progressive rather than a mainstream, institutional liberal candidate as personified by the former veep.

   Virtually all the national and state polls show that when you add the numbers for the three outspoken progressives–Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris–they top Biden’s leading number. Add in Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s numbers plus Senator Cory Booker’s and it’s overwhelming, even though Pete is running mainly on generational change rather than left-wing programs.


   Said polling also indicates that the movement is toward Warren, who is overtaking Sanders for second place. One respected nationwide poll has Biden 27%, Warren 16%, Sanders 12%.  Statewide polls in Nevada, California, South Carolina and Massachusetts show similar ranking but closer numbers now, whereas until June, Sanders had a firm grip on second place in all national and state polls.

   Two interesting surveys–one from Fox–show Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris and Booker all defeating Trump in 2020, one by margins ranging from 5 to 13 percentage points–the widest gap goes to Biden. Trump does not exceed 42% against any, which is a negative change for him.

   A word of caution: all polling now is obviously only barometric, not predictive, and still affected by name recognition. What we look for professionally, however, are indications of candidate movement and consistency among the polls. The only previous movement we saw was the decline of Beto O’Rourke, who was running on energy and style with little content, and the rise to a stable position by Buttigieg, who  got there on personality and pure intelligence.

   Sanders, who laid out the progressive agenda in 2016, finds himself one among many now favoring “Medicare for all,” free college and the fight against income inequality. He has added little except a powerful vocal defense of democratic socialism–but he’s certainly not out of the game, any more than Biden is..

   Warren, on the other hand, relentlessly proposes new, highly progressive programs that are well into social-democratic territory without labeling herself anything but a Democrat with a great slogan: “I have a plan  for that.”

   The New York Times says “Warren has set herself apart with a series of sweeping proposals that would significantly remake the American economy, covering everything from tax policy to student debt relief and offering a detailed portrait of what her presidency might look like.”

    Add to this the empathy she gets from black and white women alike as she relates her early struggles as a single mother, and you have a double-barreled phenomenon. Plus, with Buttigieg, she appears to be the most intellectual of the 24 candidates.

   She has developed a dynamic stage style that’ s occasionally a bit strident–though excellent in head-to-head conversations–so she is clearly the one to watch . She might consolidate the women’s vote. (I’m not endorsing, just analyzing.)

   All this is just the preseason, of course. The game officially begins June 26-27 and it’s months until the first vote is cast.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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