Democrats, where are you at? It’s debatable :: WRAL.com

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Gary Pearce was a reporter and editor at The News & Observer, political consultant and advisor to former Governor Jim Hunt. He blogs about politics and public policy at New day for NC.


The title evoked the dreaded c-word which deeply divides the Democrats – centrists: “Jackson projects a centrist platform in the NC campaign for the Senate”.

Jackson is State Senator Jeff Jackson from Charlotte. The story was of Will Wright in Charlotte’s Observer, who wrote:

“(Jackson’s) main message is rooted in the idea that he can restore Washington to a sense of professionalism and honesty that some believe has been lost. He associates this message with policy points that most moderate Democrats support: passing new voting rights legislation; end the gerrymandering; and supporting the right of workers to form unions.

“But it is not known whether moderate campaigns will lead Democrats to success in the next terms.”

It’s also unclear whether Jackson embraces the labels “centrist” and “moderate.” But history shows that centrist or progressive will be a cadre for the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in 2022.

The same divide marked the Democrats’ presidential race in 2020. Centrist Joe Biden defeated Bernie Sanders, a “democratic socialist”.

A recent New York Times Analysis data from Pew Research Center concluded that “Biden’s apparent strength among traditionally moderate or even conservative constituencies, and particularly men, is emerging as a hallmark of his victory” in November.

These groups included married men and veteran households – “likely not the demographic groups that Democrats said would lead the party to victory,” the Times noted.

Trump won married men in 2020 by 54-44%, down 20 points from his 62-32% victory in 2016. He won veterans households by 55-43%, down from 14 points compared to 61 to 35% in 2016.

The Times said:

“The data suggests that the progressive vision of winning a presidential election simply by mobilizing strong support from Democratic constituencies simply did not materialize for Mr. Biden.”

Looking at the same Pew data in a different way, The Washington Post concluded that independents and suburban voters rocked the election in Biden:

“Pew’s numbers show Trump won independents by one point in 2016…. Biden then won them by nine points.

“The battle for suburban voters, long the key geographic battleground for presidential elections, has played out decisively for Biden, according to Pew’s findings. Trump won them by two points in 2016. Biden won them by 11 points in 2020. “

The data has disturbing news for Democrats: Trump won among black and Hispanic voters. Biden won both groups, but Trump got 12% of the vote for blacks under 50 (compared to 4% for blacks 50 and over). In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the Hispanics by 38 points. Biden won them by 21 points, according to The discoveries of Pew.

Race and gender will also define the race for the Democratic Senate here. Jeff Jackson is white; two other prominent candidates are black women, former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and former State Senator Erica Smith.

Some Democrats believe the key to victory will be registering and mobilizing new progressive voters – mostly young people, blacks and Hispanics. Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham lost the 2020 Senate race by less than 100,000 votes, even after his personal scandal.

But does this strategy square with the reality of President Biden’s victory in 2020, both in the nomination contest and in the November election? Moderate voters tossed the two contests to a candidate that some progressive Democrats saw as outdated and out of step.

It’s a familiar Democratic debate: go left or go in the middle? He will get a new hearing in North Carolina in 2022.

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