Edsall: ‘The Far Left Is the Republicans’ Finest Asset’

From the NYT:

Dane Strother, a Democratic consultant whose firm has represented candidates in states from New Hampshire to Montana, was more outspoken in his view:

Four years ago, Democrats’ final messaging was “which bathroom one could use.” This year it was Defund the Police. The far left is the Republicans’ finest asset. A.O.C. and the squad are the “cool kids” but their vision in no way represents half of America. And in a representative democracy 50 percent is paramount.

Bruce Cain, a political scientist at Stanford, agreed that “it is pretty clear that the Republican characterization of the Democratic Party as radically left leaning worked to mobilize support for Trump in 2020.”

In an email, Cain argued that “Biden and the Democratic leadership will have a plausible case for reining in the far left,” unless the party is successful in the two Georgia Senate runoffs. In that case, the Democrats would have control of both the White House and Congress, and pressure would increase for the enactment of liberal policies, according to Cain’s analysis:

If the Democrats do flip the Georgia seats, it will make coalition management a little harder and raise tensions between factions, but even then, I do not think the votes in the Senate will be there due to defections from Joe Manchin and others representing purple states.

Bernard Grofman, a political scientist at the University of California-Irvine, shares Strother’s assessment but is still more assertive in his belief that the far left has inflicted significant damage on Democratic candidates. He wrote by email:

“Defund the police” is the second stupidest campaign slogan any Democrat has uttered in the twenty first century. It is second in stupidity only to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 comment that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”

Moreover, Grofman continued,

the antifa “take back the neighborhood’” in Seattle, where a part of the city became a police no-go zone, with the initial complicity of Democratic office holders, hasn’t helped either, especially after someone was killed within the zone. That allowed the Democrats to be seen as in favor of antifa, and, worse yet, to be portrayed as in favor of violence.

Even more damaging, in Grofman’s view,

have been the scenes of rock throwing demonstrators and boarded up stores that Republicans have regularly used for campaign fodder and that were a long-running story on Fox News. Every rock thrown, every broken window, is one more Republican vote.

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