If Democrats’ goal is not only to defeat Donald Trump but to make sure that Trumpism is erased from American political history as an aberration, then they would be wise to nominate Senator Amy Klobucher.
Here is a scatter plot by Lee Drutman and the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. This scatter plot, and the study have gotten a lot of attention post 2016 election. It shows voters depicted in two ideological dimensions, economic and social. In this scale, +1.0 is the most conservative and -1.0 is the most liberal.
Here’s the scatter plot, showing my (not so precise – eyeball) doodling locating the gravitational centers of the Democratic and Republican Voters and where the midpoint between those centers would lay on the economic and social ideological scales.
This may surprise some but the actual economic ideological center of American voters is about -0.35. Moderately liberal. On the social scale, the midpoint for voters is not liberal and not conservative.
Main Democratic Contenders
Using data from www.govtrack.us here is a list of all Senators ranked from most conservative to most liberal. This report uses a scale of +1.0 for most conservative to 0.0 as most liberal. I’ve highlighted the expected or announced democratic candidates for President. (Sorry for quality)
While this is a different scale than used in the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group scatter plot, if you converted Klobucher’s score used by the govtracks.us scale to the Democracy Fund scale, Klobucher falls ideologically very near the voter midpoint on the Democracy Fund scatter plot.
Here’s another scatter plot from voteview.com. This is more similar to the Democracy Fund scatter plot in that it ranks US Senators in two dimensions. I’ve highlighted Senator Klobuchers coordinates in orange, again showing that Klobucher is moderately liberal in economic ideology, and slightly liberal on “other votes”. This is consistent with all prior rankings.
Here is the depiction of the same data in bar graph form. This more clearly shows the divide between Democratic and Republican Senators. It also shows more clearly where Klobucher falls within the Democratic caucus.
Confrontation versus Consultation
While Trump’s weakness makes many Democratic activists see 2020 as an opportunity to bend our politics to one that is decidedly economically and socially liberal, the danger is that going to far left and trying to impose unpopular policies on voters will create another unending ideological war between the more radical elements within the legacy parties. This could create a backlash in 2022 and 2024 where the Republicans will again seize control of government.
Klobucher is moderately liberal on economic matters and moderate to slightly liberal on other matters yet has a proven ability to work within her party and with her Republican colleagues to get things done. Her election could actually set us on a course that is more stable yet still incrementally progressive. Here is her bi partisan and leadership rankings by govtracks.us
- Ranked #1 all Senators with seniority in Cosponsoring the most bills
- Ranked #1 among all Democratic Senators in getting bills out of committee the most often compared to Senate Democrats (tied with 1 other)
- Ranked #2 among all Democratic Senators in getting influential cosponsors (tied with 2 others)
- Ranked #3 among all Senators in getting bicameral support for bills
- Ranked #3 in top leader among Senate Democrats
- Ranked #4 among all Senators in getting bipartisan cosponsors on bills
- Ranked #5 among all Senators in most bills introduced (tied with 1 other)
- Ranked #11 most conservative compared to Senate Democrats
- Ranked #12 among all Senators in most cosponsors on their bills
- Ranked #15 among all Senators in Joining bipartisan bills
- Ranked #12 among all Senators in writing most laws compared to All Senators (tied with 11 others)
While I hear the desire among many progressives to seize the opportunity to push the envelope and nominate the most progressive candidate available that creates two potentially bad outcomes.
First, the candidate may be too progressive and lose the election. This is entirely possible, but seems to be dismissed by the progressive activists caught in their echo chambers. (Remember Senator George McGovern’s loss to the unpopular Richard Nixon).
Second, the nominee could win, but be unable to move legislation, or if they can enact very progressive legislation not supported by a majority of voters, it will create a backlash among moderate voters. In which case we end up with perpetual whipsaws between progressive and reactionary Congresses and Presidents.
I’d like to believe that the nomination and election of Donald Trump was a colossal perfectly bad storm of events and facts. I hope that Democrats consider the importance of not only defeating Trump, but defeat what allowed Trump to prevail.
Over the long run a candidate who is moderately liberal has the best chance to not only defeat Trump but bury Trumpism. Right now, Senator Amy Klobucher is that candidate.