Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Sorry, AOC: Dems’ failure to be more radical didn’t cost them elections last week

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Tuesday’s election did not go well for Democrats. Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost the marquee governor’s race in heavily blue-trending Virginia, where Biden beat Trump by 10 points. And in dark blue New Jersey, where Biden won by 16 points, incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy just squeaked by GOP challenger Jack Ciatterelli. Dems did poorly in many other races, too.

Progressives blamed the Democratic Party’s failure to move further left, which they say would’ve triggered a tsunami of turnout from the progressive base.

“I think that the [Virginia] results show the limits of trying to run a fully 100 percent super-moderated campaign that does not excite, speak to or energize a progressive base,” argued Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Indeed, no myth is stronger in progressive circles than the magical, wonder-working powers of voter turnout. Just one problem: Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial contest was actually a very high-turnout election.

Under the state’s newly liberalized voting laws, the number of votes cast in this race was 25 percent higher than in any previous governor’s race. Turnout was strong everywhere, including in important Democratic areas like northern Virginia, black precincts and college towns. It also surged in redder areas of the state.

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