Democratic primary voters didn’t buy the ultra-left’s ‘free-for-all’ agenda. What’s happening is not so much a liberal surge, but a moderate one.
Candidates affiliated with the Democratic Socialists and the progressive left have pushed hard this cycle for a campaign agenda heavy on government giveaways, such as free health care (“Medicare for All”), free college, guaranteed jobs and perhaps even free money (“universal basic income”).
Few of these candidates, however, will be on the ballot this fall. Rather, the insurgent left has been broadly rejected in one primary after another — and by Democrats theoretically predisposed to this pitch.
In Michigan, for instance, “establishment” candidate Gretchen Witmer beat Medicare-for-All advocate Abdul El-Sayed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination by 22 points, while in Kansas, a former professional mixed martial artist defeated a congressional hopeful endorsed by Democratic Socialists Sen. Bernie Sanders and rising superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Longtime Delaware Sen. Tom Carper easily beat back a progressive challenger, while in New York, Gov. Mario Cuomo defied his own dismal approval ratings to crush opponent Cynthia Nixon by 30 points.
These progressive losses have moreover occurred despite higher than typical turnout, which is another sign of the ultra-left agenda’s lack of appeal: What’s happening is not so much a liberal surge, but a moderate one.