An analysis by Amy Walker at the Cook Political Report is a sample of an emerging Beltway narrative for the upcoming midterms: centrism is out in both parties. Here’s an excerpt:
This strategy for the 2018 midterms was summarized best by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s slogan of “Just win, baby.” Primaries were for picking the candidates who could win these swing CDs, not for intra-party ideological warfare. In 2020, Democrats rallied behind the more centrist Biden simply because they believed he provided Democrats the best chance to beat Trump that fall.
But, with Trump no longer in the White House and Biden’s approval ratings underwater, the electability message is falling flat in Democratic primaries. In 2018, Democratic candidates prevailed in GOP-leaning CDs by leaning into a message of bipartisanship. Today, however, a restive Democratic base, discouraged by a lack of action on many of their key issues (like climate and student loan debt), and frustrated by GOP attacks on issues like abortion and election integrity, want fighters, not unifiers as their candidates.
Walker’s piece addresses Conor Lamb’s struggles against John Fetterman. So did an even more Lamb-focused piece that reached a similar conclusion (centrists are so over!) by Trip Gabriel in yesterday’s Times. There’s even speculation that Joe Manchin discredited centrism within the party.
I don’t know, but it seems to me this narrative downplays a significant factor, i.e., that Republicans have gone absolutely bug-fuck crazy and turned on democracy itself. So yeah, we want fighters, but I don’t think it’s necessarily an ideological thing. It’s more a question of style. What do you think?