• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!fund-drive-progress-thermometer

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Big Lie Democratic Centrists Are Telling About 2018

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper during the first Democratic Party debate.

Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report tweeted it in response to Nancy Pelosi’s attack on The Squad. John Hickenlooper unloaded a flatly false version of it during the first night of this week’s Democratic debates. David Axelrod stated this falsehood as fact on CNN before the start of the second night of debates. Nate Silver tweeted a version of the big centrist lie about 2018 yesterday morning with “CERTAINLY” included as if telling the big lie in all caps somehow made it more true.

Here’s Silver’s tweet in full:

Hickenlooper said flatly that no one running on these ideas had flipped a district from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 Congressional election. The entire debate up to that point had been about Medicare-for-All.

The truth is, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) decided to turf candidates running on further left ideas in every single competitive race they could. Steny Hoyer was caught in an audio recording with a candidate acknowledging this as he tried to get Levi Tillemann, who had served in the Obama Administration in the Energy Department, to quit the primary race in Colorado’s 6th.  The DCCC went so far as to launder opposition research publicly against Laura Moser in Texas in getting its more moderate candidate through, one of at least three Texas races they explicitly meddled in to prevent left leaning candidates from running in the 2018 general election.

When the dust had settled on primary season, eighty-eight of the most one hundred competitive races, per my 2018 projection as published here at CounterPunch, were being contested by moderates rather than more left or progressive candidates. I determined the twelve that should count as progressive or left candidates based explicitly on their support, or not, especially for Medicare-for-All, but also by items like running on reducing the military budget (very rare) or abolishing ICE, or free tuition for university. Candidates endorsed by Our Revolution, of course, were counted as left or progressive. Democrats won or were competitive within 10% in 86 of the Top 100 races I identified, a list that was very similar though not identical in composition to races identified as competitive or potentially so by Cook Political, FiveThirtyEight, and other forecasters.

The main eleven left or progressive candidates, by such standards, were Richard Ojeda (WV-3), Kyle Horton (NC-7), Leslie Cockburn (VA-5), Kara Eastman (NE-2), Randy Bryce (WI-1), Kim Schrier (WA-8), Katie Hill (CA-25), Katie Porter (CA-45), Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA-50), Jared Golden (ME-2), and J.D. Scholten (IA-4). My projection also included a dark horse pick of Jess King in (PA-11).

As with all such lists, the borderlines can be a little fuzzy. When analyzing how they did versus expected results, should we count races that I thought would be competitive, but no one else did (like PA-11) and turned out not to be? What about Mississippi’s 3rd, which some thought might turn out competitive and I included, but was a GOP blowout? California’s 21st? Widely written off as uncompetitive because of the Democrats’ terrible, carpetbagging candidate versus a well-beloved, more moderate Republican who speaks Spanish in a majority Hispanic district, the Democrat turned out to win it by a hair.

We’ll present results shortly, with and without all edge cases included. The bottom line, however, is that the twelve or thirteen (counting CA-21) progressives performed the same as the 100 candidates as a whole versus expectations. Democrats picked up 40 seats overall, and four of those flips, giving the lie to Hickenlooper’s statement, were by Schrier, Porter, Golden, and Hill, all of whom supported and continue to support Medicare-for-All. In that race in CA-21, which I first included, then excluded from my 100 Most Competitive forecast, T.J. Cox, the Democrat, eventually did flip the seat. Cox supported a single-payer, Medicare-for-All program during the debates ahead of the election.

In other words, Democrats picked up forty seats while running only 12% or 13% progressive or left candidates in the most competitive races, and five of those forty, or 12.5% were picked up by candidates who supported Medicare-for-All and other standard left positions. What’s more, some of these contests (WV-3, WI-1) were only potentially competitive to begin with because progressive candidates generated excitement from the base that otherwise would likely have been lacking in heavily Republican districts.

There’s a more in-depth way of asking how candidates did as well. I calculated a baseline expectation without polling for all 100 of those races. The baseline was 60% determined by FiveThirtyEight’s CANTOR model as included in its overall 2018 projection. The other 40% of the baseline was determined by a conglomeration of state level and district level partisan voting index (PVI) figures (using Cook Political’s PVI), a projected advantage for incumbents by party, state and national generic congressional ballot averages, and directly accounting for the results of the district in 2016.

Overall, the 100 Democrats running in these races outperformed the model’s baseline expectation by 5.2 or 5.3% depending on whether or not the edge cases mentioned above are counted. Given the small number of progressives that made it through to the general, the inclusion of edge cases (CA-21, PA-11) or not makes a big difference ranging from a 4.4% over performance versus the model’s baseline expectation to a 5.3% over performance versus expectation (when CA-21 and PA-11 are excluded).

Including the edge cases means progressives did very slightly worse overall than all the Top 100 candidates. Excluding those edge cases means they performed exactly the same by this measurement.

Claiming that progressives did not do well in 2018 swing races is like a school-yard bully stealing the lunch of the same kid day after most days and then mocking that kid for being underweight.

As is, however, Medicare-for-All candidates punched exactly their weight in flipping districts. Taken together with comparison to expected results versus baseline projections for the top-100 candidates, it’s a total wash. Progressive or Left candidates in 2018 did equally as well as more moderate, DCCC-hyped candidates. Wasserman, Hickenlooper, Axelrod, Silver and others can continue to dishonesty push the lie that this isn’t so all they want. The hard and fast numbers, in this case using data from Silver and Wasserman’s own outfits, does not back-up the claim.

As of publication time, Wasserman, Axelrod, Silver, and the Hickenlooper campaign have not responded to a request to support their claims with data or to contest my characterization of candidates and data.

More articles by:

Doug Johnson Hatlem writes on polling, elections data, and politics. For questions, comments, or to inquire about syndicating this weekly column for the 2020 cycle in your outlet, he can be contacted on Twitter @djjohnso (DMs open) or at djjohnso@yahoo.com (subject line #10at10 Election Column).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail