It is too early to declare a victory for the Progressive movement in the Democratic Party (obviously) but last night’s debate was a strong sign that there is a strong progressive movement, it is coherent and powerful, and it is winning.
Here’s why I say this, based on preliminary observations of last night’s debate:
1) The two most progressive candidates, Sanders and Warren, started out well ahead in the polls among this randomly selected large sample of Democratic candidates. The lower down in the polls, within this group of candidates, the least progressive the politician. That is partly a function of who happened to be in this selection, but it is still relevant given that we are talking about ten candidates in one sample.
2) These two progressive candidates did very well in the debate using no apologies, no mincing of words, no side stepping, no clever restating of their positions, and they took no hits on the chin though there were many jabs.
3) The most “centrist” of the other candidates focused on opposing the progressives more than on their own positions, they did so at an apparent cost to party unity, which is going to leave a mark (on them, not the party), and there were a few punches on the chin taken by them, easily delivered by Warren or Sanders. There were times when this looked like two giants swatting flies.
4) The other candidates, who are in my view progressive in their ultimate objectives (mostly) but incrementalist in their approach, tried and partly succeeded to make themselves look like they are progressive in spirit but wiser than the actual progressives. Their supporter will stick with them, but I don’t see much prospect of these candidates gaining after last night.
Anthropologists have long observed that others either imitate the dominant culture, or fight them.
I believe that a number of Democrats who were mostly agnostic about the candidates, or waiting to see, saw and may have moved away from the centrists.
Indivisible conducted a flash poll among members after the debate and found these results:
Warren – 52%
Buttigieg – 19%
Sanders – 13%
Klobuchar – 5%
Williamson – 4%
O’Rourke – 3%
Bullock – 2%
Ryan – 1%
Delaney – 0%
Hickenlooper – 0%