Verifiable Data Shows a Centrist Democrat is a Loser in 2020

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How the Democratic establishment and the pundit class lines up behind the centrist nominees for president is troubling

Salon - June 2, 2019

"The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between."

... The Republican Party has earned a reputation as the anti-science, anti-fact party — understandably, perhaps, given the GOP's policy of ignoring the evidence for global climate change and insisting on  the efficacy of supply-side economics, despite all the research to the contrary. Yet ironically, it is now the Democratic Party that is wantonly ignoring mounds of social science data that suggests that promoting centrist candidates is a bad, losing strategy when it comes to winning elections. As the Democratic establishment and its pundit class starts to line up behind the centrist nominees for president — mainly, Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — the party's head-in-the-sand attitude is especially troubling.

The mounds of data to which I refer come from Thomas Piketty, the French political economist who made waves with his 2013 book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." This paper, entitled "Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict," analyzes around 70 years of post-election surveys from three countries — Britain, the United States and France — to comprehend how Western politics have changed in that span. (Note: I wrote about this paper in Salon last year in a slightly different context, before the 2020 Democratic Primary really got going.)

First, the sheer amount of data analyzed in Piketty's paper is stunning. He and his researchers analyze voters in those three countries by income (broken into deciles), education, party, gender, religion and income disparity. The final 106 pages of the paper consist of graphs and charts. This is a seriously detailed data analysis that took years of work, and any intelligent political party operative should take it very seriously.

Now, for the findings. Piketty's basic thesis is that poorer and less educated voters were historically the kind of voters who voted for left and left-liberal parties. These voters understood that their class interests did not align with the right-wing parties of the rich; thus, historically, the "high-income, high education" voters picked the right-wing parties.

This shifted in the past 70 years: "high-education elites now vote for the 'left', while high- income/high-wealth elites still vote for the 'right' (though less and less so)," Piketty notes. Note the scare quotes around "left": part of Piketty's point is that the so-called left parties, like the Democratic Party in the U.S., the Socialists in France and Labour in the U.K., have in the past two decades not really been that left, at least on economic issues. With the exception of Jeremy Corbyn's contemporary Labour Party, the aforementioned are aligned with the same kind of neoliberal economic policies that rich elites favor. ...
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