Accuracy in Media

Fear is mounting that the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left to beat President Trump in 2020, and there is some evidence the media has decided to come to the rescue.

There was hubbub over President Obama “gently warning” House Democrats to consider the costs of their proposals.

There were two pieces on consecutive days in November that tried to normalize the leftward shift – “Democrats Aren’t Moving Left. They’re Returning to Their Roots.” – subhead: “Many on both sides are worried about the party’s leftward swing. They say it’s a deviation from the mainstream. It’s not,” by Joshua Zeitz of Politico; and “How Far Have the Democrats Moved to the Left?” – subhead: “Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get lots of attention, but the most significant shift is among voters, not candidates” – by David Graham of the Atlantic.

Zeitz’s argument is there’s nothing new about Democratic support for Medicare for all, universal college and universal basic income – President Truman supported universal health care, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan supported basic income in the 1960s. “That a smattering of Democratic candidates have elected to call themselves ‘democratic socialists’ has only fueled the claim that such programs are ‘socialist,’” he wrote.

Graham argues although the “future of the Democratic Party” may look “a  lot like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” in which “women, people of color and voters in big cities are the demographics at the heart of the party … the question” is whether the future party may well not vote like Ocasio-Cortez – a Democratic Socialist.

And now the New York Times has gotten into the act with “The Democratic Electorate on Twitter is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate,” by Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy.

The report compared poll results from rank-and-file Democrats to those on Twitter and prominent in the media and found: “Today’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its “woke” left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.”

The piece opens by pointing to a Washington Post/Schar School poll a week after a racist photo from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook page had been made public. Even after Northam “was pummeled on social media,” and ”virtually every Democratic presidential candidate demanded his resignation, … the majority of Democrats in Virginia said Mr. Northam should remain in office … and black Democrats were likelier than white ones to say Mr. Northam should remain.”

What the Times calls “the outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media” is outnumbered roughly 2 to 1 by “the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online,” the Times reported, citing data from the Hidden Tribes Project.

This group “has the numbers to decide the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of a relatively moderate establishment favorite, as it has often done in the past,” Cohn and Quealy wrote.

Among Democrats active on political social media, only 29 percent identify as moderates or conservatives. Among the less politically active, 53 percent say they are moderate or conservative. Among those who don’t post political content, 70 percent say political correctness is a problem in the U.S., only 30 percent say they have become more liberal in their lifetimes and just 7 percent say they attended a protest in the last year.

Those who do publish liberal political content are more likely to have a college degree – 47 percent compared to 33 percent of those who don’t post; 71 percent are white, compared to just 55 percent of other Democrats; 53 percent have become more liberal in their lifetimes, 28 percent attended a protest in the last year and 45 percent donated to a political organization within the last year – compared to just 14 percent of other Democrats.

“Overall, around half of Democratic-leaning voters consider themselves ‘moderate’ or ‘conservative,’ not liberal,” the Times wrote. Meanwhile, “Perhaps 1 in 10 Democrats overall might identify as Democratic socialists.”

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