A Progressive Win In The Democrat Primaries Will Lead To A Loss In The General Election
The voters who will decide the election will reject a candidate who promotes huge, new entitlement programs.
By David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)
The Democrats are starting to drive me crazy. I feel like a guy on a sinking ship whose crew is unconcerned about the hole in the hull and instead is spending all its time arguing about competing plans to update the AC and modernize the kitchen.
The Big Democrat Fallacy — “I Hate Trump = I Want A Progressive Government.”
Hating Trump does not mean that the person is in favor of progressive policies.
That’s as false as 2 + 2 = 22
This is still a largely conservative to middle-of-the-road country. A personal dislike for Trump
- doesn’t change that, and
- doesn’t mean that the people who hate Trump will automatically vote for a left-wing Democrat.
Just the opposite. At best those people in the middle will stay home and at worst they will, reluctantly, vote for Trump anyway.
In order to win, the Democrat candidate needs to get the votes of the people in the middle while avoiding energizing the people who will vote for Trump. Advocating hugely expensive Gov’t entitlement policies will fail on both counts.
The Primary Vs. General Election Paradox
Yes, a primary contest for the support of the party members is different from the general election where the entire country picks the winner. The problem is that the policies of the Democrats who will pick the candidate possibly don’t match up with what a majority of the country wants.
If a majority of the Democrats are “progressives” that’s a huge problem for the party because a majority of the country is not. A progressive candidate that pleases the majority of the Democrats will not please a majority of the electorate, and that means that Trump will be re-elected.
If the Dems are actually going to win the 2020 election then during the primaries they’re going to have to find a way to stick to issues and policies that will attract the 20% of the people in the middle because those are the voters who will choose the next President.
The 20% In The Middle
In the next election Trump will be guaranteed to get at least 40% of the vote and the Democrat candidate will get at least 40%. The candidate who gets the bulk of the remaining 20% will win.
So, the vital questions are:
- Who comprises that 20% in the middle?
- What issues do these people care about?
- What positions on those issues will most attract them?
- What positions will most upset them?
In short, what issues and positions are going to get the Democrat the maximum number of votes from the 20% in the middle and what issues and positions are going to lose the Democrat the maximum number of votes from that 20%?
The only questions that count, the ones that will make the difference between winning and losing, are:
- What’s going to motivate the greatest number of people in that 20% to turn out and vote for you and
- What’s going to motivate the greatest number of people in that 20% to turn out and vote against you?
Who Are The People In The Middle?
The people in the middle are not strongly ideological. They don’t live and breathe politics and they don’t want radical changes. They are mildly Democrat or mildly Republican. They’re not happy about all the fighting and mania that has characterized Trump’s administration. They want to go back to business as usual for a change.
Most of them personally dislike Trump, but that doesn’t mean that they dislike everything he’s done.
They don’t want more government and more taxes, but they do want something done to fix health care and the income and wealth gap.
Their primary concerns are about their own families, not other people’s problems. They are not altruists. They are not activists. They want someone who is going to make their lives better. Saving the world is not something they’re very concerned with.
They don’t want their cost of living going up, their taxes going up, or hundreds of thousands of non-English-speaking, uneducated, poor people getting into the country.
They do want things to settle down to some kind of reasonable middle ground where they can take home more money, have decent schools for their kids, reasonable access to medical care, and have some hope that their kids will be able to get a job that will pay them enough to have a decent life.
They are not interested in saving the world. They are interested in protecting their world
If you start telling these folks that the government is going to spend trillions of dollars to provide “free” college tuition to every American, they know that nothing is free. They know that the government is going to have to tax somebody to get that money, and since poor people don’t pay income taxes that means much of the money is going to come from them. That’s not good for a candidate who wants to get their vote.
The same applies to “free” medical care for everyone, but since that’s ten times more expensive, that’s a ten times bigger negative.
While these people are not bigots, liberal hot-button issues like LGBTQ and #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter are way, way down their list of things they care about.
These people are not policy wonks. They aren’t interested in the details about how some theoretical plan to do this or that is going to work. When some candidate tells them that he/she has a nineteen-point plan for reforming the corporate tax system or the educational system their eyes just glaze over.
The People In Favor Of Progressive Policies Are Already Going To Vote Democratic
The people who are in favor of government-paid college tuition or Medicare for All are liberals who are already going to vote for the Democrat whether the eventual candidate is for or against those things.
Progressive ideas like Medicare for All are loser issues because in November those policies won’t get the Dems any additional votes that they weren’t going to get anyway, and they will lose the Dems votes that they might have otherwise gotten.
These sorts of tax-and-spend plans are toxic to most of the 20% in the middle. Just raising these issues will lose the Democrat candidate net votes from the 20% in the middle and also they will galvanize the 40% Trump voters even more to turn out.
Why would any candidate with half a brain promote a policy that won’t get them any votes they weren’t already going to get and that would also lose them votes that they might otherwise not have lost? What’s the point of winning the nomination at the cost of losing the general election?
Any Democrat candidate who actually wants to win the general election will avoid any issues that are going to (1) lose votes from the 20% and (2) increase the turn-out of people who will vote for Trump.
Policy Yes, Plans No
The people in the central 20% want simple policy statements on wages, taxes, drug prices, immigration and medical expenses that will signal them if the candidate is likely to make their lives better or worse.
Trump understood this. In 2016. Hillary would babble about some fourteen-point plan that she was going to enact in order to increase employment and that they could read all about it on her website, and Trump would just tell people, “We’re going to stop the big companies from sending American jobs overseas.”
In 2016 the Dems wanted to babble about the statistics of carbon emissions and receding glaciers and how the carbon credits exchange would work, and Trump just told people: “Climate change is a myth that’s going to put your electric bills through the roof. I won’t let that happen.”
If the Democrats actually want to win the election instead of just holding a massive ideological seminar on how they would run the world if they were magically given control of everything, they will direct their energies to
- Stating general policies that the 20% will like
- Not stating any policies that the 20% will hate.
- Not firing up the Trump 40% to turn out.
Every time Elizabeth Warren or whomever starts talking about free medical care, free college, or letting tens or hundreds of thousands of Central Americans into the country because things in their homeland are so terrible, they’re just motivating the Trump 40% to get out of their La-z-Boys and march their asses down to the voting booth to vote the straight Republican ticket.
If the Dems want some of the lazier Trump 40% to stay home and the majority of the 20% to vote for their candidate they’re going to have to abandon the ridiculous theory that hating Trump means that the person is in favor of progressive policies.
Strategy Yes, Tactics No
What a person wants to do is strategy. How they’ll do it is tactics.
Clever politicians stick to their strategy and avoid talking about their tactics.
The Democrat candidate needs to say what he/she is going to do, not how they’ll do it.
- Drug prices are too high. I’ll lower them.
- Corporation executives are paid too much. I’ll fix that.
- Corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes. I’ll fix that.
- Hard-working people are paid too little. I’ll fix that.
- Medical insurance should be provided by the private sector. I’ll make sure that employers, not taxpayers, provide hardworking people with the medical insurance they deserve.
- We can’t have hundreds of thousands of people trying to crash over our border. Both Republicans and Democrats need to come together to craft fair and workable fixes to our broken immigration system.
If pressed for more details the Democrat candidate can to say things like:
- The drug companies have been overcharging us for years. I’m going to stop that.
- I’m going to enforce the anti-trust laws against these drug companies.
- My administration will negotiate lower prices for the drugs the government buys.
- We’re going to force the drug companies to sell their drugs in the U.S. for the same price they charge for them in Canada.
- Corporate executives are fleecing their own shareholders. I will pass a shareholder protection act that will require shareholder approval for large executive payments.
- To discourage huge executive payments we’re going to take away the tax deduction for any payments to executives over $5 million. To encourage corporations to pay better wages to working people we’ll double the corporate tax deduction for wages paid to workers who earn less than $100,000/year.
- We’re going to cut welfare by setting the minimum wage for full-time work to match the cutoff point for qualifying for food stamps so that employers, not the government, support working people.
Primary Vs. General Election
I understand that right now the Dems are fighting amongst themselves for support within the party, but what they say now will be thrown in their face in the general election. Elizabeth Warren can’t make her Medicare for All plan disappear next November. In November, that issue might increase her vote total from 40% to 45% but it will prevent her from getting to 51%
All the talk about minority rights and women’s rights may help a Democrat candidate in the primaries, but it’s not going to give the 20%-in-the-middle voters any confidence that he/she has the priorities and policies needed to be trusted with their votes.
Mundane Success Or Glorious Failure?
If the Dems want to win the election they’ll pick a center candidate. If they want to make a left-wing policy statement and go down in a blaze of glory they will pick a progressive candidate.
I repeat: if the Dems really want to win the 2020 election, they’re going to have to find a way to stick to centrist issues during the primaries that will attract, not repel, the 20% of the voters in the ideological middle because it is those voters who will choose the next President.
— David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)