Are Democrats turning away from the trap of political centrism?

When Democrats in the U.S. House voted this past  Friday against key provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement touted by President Obama, the ramifications perhaps went beyond the legislative issue at hand. Perhaps it signaled fundamental change in the Democratic Party, a move away from so-called centrism. Columnist Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate, seems to think that’s case, as we see HERE: The Democratic Party is becoming more assertive about its traditional values…You could say that Democrats are moving left. But the story is more complicated and interesting than this simple statement can convey. You see, ever since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, Democrats have been on the ideological defensive. Even when they won elections they seemed afraid to endorse clearly progressive positions, eager to demonstrate their centrism by supporting policies like cuts to Social Security that their base hated. But that era appears to be over. (Snip)  Democrats seem finally to have taken on board something political scientists have been telling us for years: adopting “centrist” positions in an attempt to attract swing voters is a mug’s game, because such voters don’t exist. Most supposed independents are in fact strongly aligned with one party or the other, and the handful who aren’t are mainly just confused. So you might as well take a stand for what you believe in.      ...

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Democrats have a good chance of recapturing control of the Senate

Mathematics and history indicate that the Democratic Party will be in a pretty good position to retake control of the U.S. Senate in the 2016 elections. Regarding the math, there’s this: Republicans will be defending 24 Senate seats next year, while Democrats will defend only 10, most of which seem safe. As for history, when a Democrat wins the presidential election, the party usually does well in Senate races. And polls currently indicate that the Dems will hold the White House. There’s more about all of this...

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On two counts, public attitudes on economic issues seem to bode well for Dems in 2016

In a recent national poll — and for the first time in more than five years — a plurality of Americans (49 percent) gave President Obama positive marks for his handling of the economy. That same poll also showed that a sizable majority of Americans, even most Republicans, express concern about the growing economic gap between the rich and everyone else. Both of those survey results would seem to be good for Democratic Party prospects in next year’s elections, as Ed Kilgore explains HERE: So it may well be that Hillary Clinton’s talk about inequality isn’t just a response to progressives unhappy with Obama’s “centrism,” but a theme we’ll be hearing more of both from her and from Obama himself as the obvious thing for a left-of-center pol to talk about when the overall direction of the economy is looking better. It also probably means that we’ll hear Republicans continue their awkward efforts to suggest shrinking government will unleash upward mobility. All in all, optimism about what a Democratic president is doing plus concerns traditionally associated with Democrats is a pretty good public opinion backdrop for a Democratic non-incumbent. There are lots of different “fundamentals” that will affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential contest. But this data positively affects two of them for the Democratic nominee: greater satisfaction with the economy and less “time for a change” sentiment.  ...

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Republican states suck-up more federal goodies than do Democratic states

For years now, I’ve been writing about how red states (those that lean to the Republican side) generally are so-called taker states, while blue states (those that lean to the Democratic side) generally are so-called giver states. I’ve made the point that red states get a lot more back from the federal government than they pay in federal states. The reverse is the case with blue states. They generally pay more in federal taxes than they get back from the federal government. The great irony, of course, is that politicians in the red states are inclined to pretend that the Democrats are the leeches. HERE are the results of the latest study of this matter....

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This guy argues that Democrats shouldn’t give up on the South

The conventional political wisdom these days is that “the Solid South,” as it was called for decades when Democrats dominated the region, has become irreversibly Republican. But Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.com BEGS TO DIFFER: There are a few problems with the argument that “the South is lost.” Democrats are arguably doing their best in at least 20 years in three of the five most populous southern states. President Obama won Florida two consecutive times. In 2008, Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win in North Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Even as Obama lost the Tar Heel State in 2012, Democratic House candidates there won a majority of the vote. Not only was Obama was the first Democrat to win Virginia since 1964, but the state has two Democratic senators for the first time since 1973, and Terry McAuliffe was the first gubernatorial candidate of either party to win the governorship when his party held the presidency since 1973. So maybe people really mean Democrats are hopeless in the Deep South? That’s a bit harder to rebut. Then again, you’re also talking about just a handful of...

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