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Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post yesterday that Elizabeth Warren's rise in the polls "should horrify Democrats." But these polls aren't data about climate change. They reflect voter preference, so Democrats are the ones responsible for Warren's "horrifying" rise. Of course, Gerson isn't talking about the Democrats who are silly and liberal enough to support Warren. He means "moderate" Democrats (and Republicans) who vote responsibly.

Gerson cites a New York Times Upshot and Siena College survey that showed Warren even with or losing to Donald Trump in the all-important six swing states that curiously determine entire presidential elections. Oh noes! Socialism on Krypton is doomed. If we had short-term memories, we might recall that a year before the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was grinding most Republican challengers, especially Trump, under her heel. But now we believe in polls again or rather continue to interpret them narrowly, like the witches' predictions in Macbeth.

New York Times

It's weird that Gerson singles out Warren's performance in the Times/Siena survey. Joe Biden, our electable white knight, is within the margin of error with Trump in these states. He's only doing a point better in North Carolina than Sanders and Warren, which is interesting. Those two northeast libs were supposed to repulse black Southerners like unseasoned greens. This very same poll, by the way, had Clinton a full 7 points above Trump in Pennsylvania just a week before the election. Trump wound up carrying the state. This doesn't mean that polls are doo doo, but maybe moderate Democrats should stop holding them up as conclusive proof that so-called "far left" candidates are electoral poison. I'm not a big Sanders fan, which I'll express by not voting for him in the primary. I don't need to cosplay Cassandra about his chances in the general election.


Gerson concedes that Warren is "one of the most exciting, substantive, compelling voices" in the Democratic field, but that's bad because she's sure to help reelect Trump. Everything we love about her -- her plans, her fighting spirit, the Kate McKinnon impersonation -- are all weak points Trump will "exploit" like a political martial artist. Gerson doesn't think she can effectively transform herself from a "progressive populist" to an off-brand, economy-pack populist for the general election. Trump didn't moderate his racist policies after winning the Republican nomination in 2016, and there's no evidence he'll move to the center on his criminal activities in 2020. Maybe a progressive can actually win as a progressive. Gerson claims you can only win former Trump supporters and moderates with the promise of "stability and incrementalism." Those voters don't want "disruption and radicalism — no matter how principled and well explained." Here I thought the problem with "disruption and radicalism" is that it's not "well-explained." Manifestos are usually 20 pages of ranting gibberish, not carefully researched Powerpoint slides.

I don't doubt that there are Republicans who'd love to lose the ongoing embarrassment of a Trump presidency but keep the corporate tax rates. They should've held their own primary and nominated Mitt Romney again. Democrats should, for a change, consider that what we believe not only makes sense but is popular.

A friend noted on Twitter that two progressive candidates (one a declared socialist) currently polling in the top three might mean that a sizable percentage of Democrats support progressive policies. This seemed a reasonable, math-based observation, but she was mocked for it. No, what Democrats really want are moderates, despite having plenty of moderates to choose from and ignoring most of them like parsley on a socialist steak. And if we don't want moderates, well, damnit, moderates are what we need. They're like medicine, which everyone is eager to vote for. George Will condescendingly advised Democrats to "wise up" and pick "grown ups" like Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet, whose current polling averages are 2.6 and .6 percent respectively. I guess everyone's 10th choice is better than everyone's second or third.

Washington Post

The Washington Post released its own poll today, and all the top Democrats are beating Trump silly. There appears no immediate advantage in selecting the "slow and steady, tortoise-style" candidate. If that's what you want, vote the hell out of it, I say, but you might have to convince people to support your candidate without using the words "electable" or "swing voters."

Polls this far out aren't predictable, but this is good news if moderates were genuinely concerned Warren or Sanders would lose big to Trump. Now, if what really worried them was the possibility that Warren or Sanders might actually win, then this is probably a bummer. Just keep hoping for that Klomentum!

[The Washington Post]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.

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