The politics of the hard left of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) and the so-called “Squad,” once a dominant theme for many elected Democrats, are turning against the ruling party, top Democrats tell us.
Why is this important: The push to defund the police, rename schools and tear down statues has created a significant hurdle for Democrats to retain control of the House, Senate and overall party image.
“What’s this we’ve been screaming for a year,” said Matt Bennettco-founder of the center-left Third Way, which launched Shield PAC to defend moderate Democrats.
The last sign One of the backlash was the overwhelming (70%+) recall this week of three San Francisco school board members, who were criticized for prioritizing issues such as the renaming of 44 public schools – including those honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – rather than a return to – individual lessons.
- Other factors such as an abrupt change in admissions to a prestigious high school were at stake (all politics are local).
- But the most liberal city in the most liberal state decided that liberal activists had gone too far.
It’s part of a barrage of evidence that the team’s progressive activism has pushed the party’s image well to the left of where most voters are — even most Democratic voters.
- Representative Josh Gottheimer (DN.J.), co-chairman of the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, told Axios: “What I hear at home – and what I focus on – are common sense bipartisan solutions – of the fight against the price of groceries and gas, lowering taxes and fixing our infrastructure, investing in law enforcement and fighting crime.”
- Aids to several squad members declined to comment immediately.
It’s a seismic change from barely a year ago. Signs have steadily accumulated throughout President Biden‘s 13 months in office that squad politics are problematic when you’re in control:
- 30 House Democrats – the most in decades – announced they would retire instead of running in November’s midterm elections. They see little hope of keeping the majority in this environment.
- Democrats lose poll after poll of generic House showdowns, which ask voters whether they would prefer an R or a D if the election were held today.
Decisive Republican sweep statewide offices in Virginia has been fueled in part by Democrats’ failure to appreciate parents’ skepticism about public school mask mandates, transgender rights policies and the approach of breed education.
- Also in November, Liberal Minneapolis voters rejected a proposal to radically constrain the police.
Zoom out: House Democrats’ own polls and focus groups show that many swing voters think the party is too “preachy,” “critical” and “focused on culture wars,” according to documents obtained by Politico.
- A Latino Axios-Ipsos poll found that crime and gun violence are top worries among Hispanics, whose once-reliable support for Democrats has cooled in part because of “fears that Democrats are adopting socialist policies,” The New York Times reported.
- Already in the mid-term races, Turntable Democrats are working to distance themselves from far-left movements to “defund the police” and “abolish ICE,” The Washington Post has found.
Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota says fellow Democrats are hurting themselves by not speaking out more forcefully against liberal positions that alienate rural America.
- Heitkamp – who runs the One Country Project, dedicated to energizing rural voters – told AP: “Now the brand is so toxic that people who are Democrats, those who stay, are not fighting for the party.”