Ezra Klein explains why Democrats still have to appeal to the center, but Republicans don’t.
Glenn Price: “I was especially struck by this startling passage: ‘It is, eventually, a legitimacy crisis that could threaten the very foundation of our political system. By 2040, 70 percent of Americans will live in the 15 largest states. That means 70 percent of America will be represented by only 30 senators, while the other 30 percent of America will be represented by 70 senators.”
. . . America isn’t a democracy. Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and a majority of governorships. Only the House is under Democratic control. And yet Democrats haven’t just won more votes in the House elections. They won more votes over the last three Senate elections, too. They won more votes in both the 2016 and 2000 presidential elections. But America’s political system counts states and districts rather than people, and the G.O.P.’s more rural coalition has a geographic advantage that offsets its popular disadvantage.
To win power, Democrats don’t just need to appeal to the voter in the middle. They need to appeal to voters to the right of the middle. When Democrats compete for the Senate, they are forced to appeal to an electorate that is far more conservative than the country as a whole. Similarly, gerrymandering and geography means that Democrats need to win a substantial majority in the House popular vote to take the gavel. And a recent study by Michael Geruso, Dean Spears and Ishaana Talesara calculates that the Republican Party’s Electoral College advantage means “Republicans should be expected to win 65 percent of presidential contests in which they narrowly lose the popular vote.”
The Republican Party, by contrast, can run campaigns aimed at a voter well to the right of the median American. Republicans have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. If they’d also lost six of the last seven presidential elections, they most likely would have overhauled their message and agenda. If Trump had lost in 2016, he — and the political style he represents — would have been discredited for blowing a winnable election. The Republican moderates who’d counseled more outreach to black and Hispanic voters would have been strengthened.
Instead, Republicans are trapped in a dangerous place: They represent a shrinking constituency that holds vast political power. . . .
This is why one of the few real hopes for depolarizing American politics is democratization. If Republicans couldn’t fall back on the distortions of the Electoral College, the geography of the United States Senate and the gerrymandering of House seats — if they had, in other words, to win over a majority of Americans — they would become a more moderate and diverse party. . . .
I love the energy and the idealism of the Bernie bros. It comes from a good place and we need it. Their goals and grievances, if not their rhetoric and proposed solutions, are all, or almost all, widely shared by moderate Democrats — and even moderate Republicans.
But Ezra Klein’s analysis in the indispensable New York Times, above, does suggest that a moderate might have a better chance of beating Trump — and thus advancing the Bernie agenda — than Bernie does.
Because, of course, even if Bernie is our nominee — in which case I’ll do everything I can to help elect him — and even if he wins, he won’t simply be able to wave a magic wand and pass his agenda.
Someone else — a Biden or a Bloomberg or a Buttigieg or a Klobuchar — who is perceived as less threatening and polarizing, might ultimately be able to move Bernie’s ball further down the field than he himself could.
(Here’s a likable ticket: How about Amy Klobuchar / Deval Patrick?)
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