In a sign of the times, the California Democratic Party has declined to endorse the state’s senior senator in her bid for reelection. In fact, Dianne Feinstein lost to her Democratic opponent in a vote at the state’s Democratic convention. Hard left-winger Kevin de Leon received 54 percent of the vote, compared to Feinstein’s 37 percent.
De Leon fell short of the 60 percent support required to get the Party’s official endorsement. Nonetheless, Feinstein’s poor showing is an embarrassment to her and a clear indication of her party’s leftward lurch. De Leon is said to favor universal medicare and free college tuition, among other forms of free stuff.
He faces an uphill battle with actual Democratic voters, though perhaps not an impossible one. A recent PPP poll found him running 29 points behind Feinstein, but with 37 percent of voters undecided.
California leftists understandably believe their ultra-Blue state should be represented by someone more extreme than Feinstein. It’s the same kind of thinking many conservatives subscribe to — purify the party by defeating non-hardliners in “safe” states and districts.
This approach has had mixed results on the Republican side. The GOP membership in Congress has become more conservative, but “safe” seats have been lost — e.g. in Indiana and Alabama.
Democrats probably face less risk than Republicans of losing seats when they they try to replace incumbents with ideologically pure outsiders. The mainstream media isn’t likely to dig up 40 year-old stories about the dating practices of Democrats; nor, I suspect, are Democratic voters likely to be as finicky as their Republican counterparts.
The danger for Democrats is less about losing seats than about losing the electorate. The more the Democrats become the party of handouts and the party of special treatment for minority group members and illegal immigrants, the more they will be abandoned by white voters, both working and upper middle class. Stated differently, it will be difficult for the party to thrive in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin if its congressional delegation is driven too hard by leftists from California, New York, and Illinois.