Squad politics backfire as Democrats struggle with party image
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.
The last sign of the backlash was the landslide (70%+) recall this week three members of the San Francisco school board, who have been criticized for prioritizing issues such as the renaming of 44 public schools – including those honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – on a return to in-person classes.
- Other factors such as a sudden change in admission to a prestigious high school were at stake (all politics is 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 progressive activism of the Team pushed the party’s image to the left of where most voters are — even most Democratic voters.
- Representative Josh Gottheimer (DN.J.), co-chair of the Bipartisan Problem-Solvers Caucus, told Axios: “What I hear at home – and what I focus on – are common-sense bipartisan solutions – of tackling grocery prices and gasoline, 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 the most in decades — have announced they will 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 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 was partially powered by democrats inability to appreciate parental skepticism about public school mask mandates, transgender rights policies, and teaching approach to race.
- Also in November, Liberal Minneapolis voters rejected a proposal to radically constrain police.
Zoom out: House Democrats’ own polls and focus groups show many swing voters think the party is too ‘preachy’, ‘critical’ and ‘focused on culture wars’, documents say obtained by Politico.
- A Axios-Ipsos Latino survey found that crime and gun violence are top worries for 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 struggle to distance themselves from far-left movements to ‘defund the police’ and ‘abolish ICE’, The Washington Message 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.