Politico Targets Democratic “Lurch To The Left”

Much of the corporate press tends to worship at the altar of the political “center,” which it always defines as well to the right of the public. Call it the alt-center. In the 2016 presidential cycle, Bernie Sanders found himself on the receiving end of the usual press treatment dished out to liberal or left political candidates who present themselves to the public; news media spent most of a year trying to ignore him to death then when he didn’t die, tried to actively destroy his candidacy with relentless attacks. While Democratic politicans have been moving to the right for decades, one manifestations of this alt-center-ism is that mainstream pundits always portray them as too liberal and always counsel them to “move to the right.” This has become a rather long-running joke. Liberal media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting has tracked the trend for decades.

The alt-center struck again this morning in a Politico story based on a new Politico/Morning Consult poll:

“Donald Trump begins his presidency facing unprecedented polling headwinds: Roughly a quarter of voters think Donald Trump is the worst president in the last century. Forty-three percent of voters are ready to vote for a nameless Democrat in 2020, while just over a third say they’ll vote for Trump.”

What possible point could there be, the reader may ask, in polling on a potential 2020 presidential race in February 2017? Well, in his next paragraph, Politico’s Jake Sherman tells you:

“But, in the fourth week of Trump’s presidency, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that Democrats could be in trouble — and Trump could triumph — if they continues their lurch to the left.”

Readers not hobbled by alt-centerist assumptions — or who just pay any more than minimal attention to public affairs — will immediately ask, what “lurch to the left”? In the just-concluded presidential election, Democrats didn’t go with the left candidate; they ran the far-too-conservative opportunist. The aftermath of Clinton’s defeat hasn’t, so far, resulted in any radical changes either. Senate Democrats chose Wall Street shill Chuck Schumer as their leader (to replace the retiring Harry Reid), while House Demos went with the same tired old line-up as before, including Nancy Pelosi at the top, a “leader” who, in the immediate aftermath of the election, went on nationwide television and said she didn’t think people wanted a new direction for her party.

But while there is no “lurch to the left,” there is a growing debate about the direction of the Democratic party — continue pursuing rightist economic policies in order to suck up to Big Money sources for donations or pursue a more liberal course more in line with the views of the overwhelming majority of the public?

That’s the debate on which Politico just weighed in, in an article that is, on this point, editorializing in the guise of reportage. A poll on a potential 2020 presidential contest is meaningless but Politico’s presentation of its results, while serving one side of that internal Democratic debate, is also fraudulent. Digging into the actual polling results, one finds that Morning Consult also asked respondents if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Elizabeth Warren; 34% had either never heard of her or had heard her name but as yet lacked sufficient knowledge to have any opinion of her.

In assessing a potential Trump/Warren presidential contest, the fact that over a third of respondents don’t even know Warren would seem a rather relevant fact. Politico’s Sherman, while attempting to use the result of the head-to-head question to pour cold water on any Democratic “lurch to the left,” declines to mention this finding. It seems a much bigger political story that, even with Warren’s severe name-recognition deficit, the actual head-to-head question still finds her within 6 points (margin of error 2%) of not only the sitting President of the United States but of a new president, with all the advantages that entails,[1] but that;s apparently not an editorial Politico wants to write.

— j.

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[1] Americans typically extend to new presidents a great deal of good will and this has proven the case with Trump as well — though it never put him above 50%, he started his administration with more people approving of his job performance than disapproving. Once he started doing his job, this changed.