If you can spare the time to read and digest statistics-heavy commentary, Thomas Edsall’s your man:
A respected Republican pollster (who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect his relationship with his clients) advises Democrats to be circumspect in this regard when it comes to the general election:
In our last national poll of registered voters, taken in the last week of August, the ideological distribution of the electorate is: Very liberal 13 percent; Somewhat liberal 18 percent; Moderate 28 percent; Somewhat conservative 22 percent; Very conservative 14 percent.
This shows, the pollster continued, that
three-fourths of the electorate is within shouting distance of the center, and only one-fourth is on the extremes. That tells you much of what you need to know about the “center” vs. “progressive” debate.
Trump, this pollster continued, “is very unlikely to gain more than the 46 percent of the popular vote that he received in 2016, because he has made no effort to do so.” That, in turn, places the burden on Democrats to “nominate someone who can consolidate the 54 percent majority of non-Trump voters.”
Democrats cannot bank on the theory “that non-Trump voters have ‘no place else to go,’ ” he said, because in 2016 they did just that” — went elsewhere:
About 8 million voters — greater than the population of 38 of our 50 states — voted for 3rd party candidates in 2016, almost 6 percent of the total vote. The same thing is likely to happen again in 2020 if the choice is Trump vs a real leftie, i.e. Sanders or Warren.
Democrats Can Still Seize the Center (emphasis added).
I am not confident that the two major parties can stop serving us shit sandwiches every quadrennium because they’re so weak as parties.
The parties can no longer really pick their nominees. If they could, Donald Trump would never have been nominated, nor would we be talking about where socialist independent Bernie Sanders stands in the Democrat polling. Both parties have become more extreme versions of their respective tendencies, and the primary voters — the most extreme members of their respective parties — reward extremism, which is why most Republicans quake at the thought of “getting primaried” by a Trumpista if they break ranks.
I’ve said repreatedly that Trump’s win signals some sort of major realignment. Might it be the death of one or both major parties? The GOP as I’ve known it is already on life support. And I, who almost certainly contemned parties operating in “smoke-filled rooms,” now add to nostalgia for the military draft I opposed a measure of nostalgia for smoke-filled rooms of people who want to win, not just to send some message.
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The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.
(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)