Democrats start to worry about retaining the House

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says this about Nancy Pelosi’s criticism of her and her small congressional squad of radical leftists:

When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood. [I]t got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful … the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.

Ocasio-Cortez was right the first time. Pelosi is trying to protect her members and, above all, to hold the House in 2020.

A May poll reportedly found that Ocasio-Cortez is profoundly unpopular in congressional districts throughout America. More than 74 percent of those surveyed recognized her name. Only 22 percent had a favorable view of her.

Ilhan Omar fared even worse. She was recognized by 53 percent, with only 9 percent holding a favorable view. Socialism was viewed favorably by 18 percent and unfavorably by 69 percent.

Chris White of the Daily Caller says Democratic leaders are concerned that with all the publicity Ocasio-Cortez and Omar generate, the Party might lose the House. Ocasio-Cortez “is getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races,” one operative fretted.

I question whether the concern is valid. Individual members will define their own races, and with Pelosi distancing the Party from its infantile congressional radicals, I don’t see the likes of Ocasio-Cortez and Omar costing the Democrats seats.

Of course, in distancing themselves from the rads, Democrats risk alienating hard leftists in their districts, so there is that. But to the extent House races are “nationalized” in 2020, they are more likely to be nationalized around President Trump and, to a lesser degree, the Democratic standard bearer than around Ocasio-Cortez.

Speaking of the presidential race, though, Democrats have reason to be worried about socialism’s unpopularity. Of the four leading Democratic contenders, one is an out-and-out socialist, a second is a borderline socialist, and a third flirts with socialism one day only to back off the next. The fourth is no socialist, he’s just old and confused

Nor is it clear that Ocasio-Cortez will prompt any of the Democratic contenders to have a Sister Souljah moment. Nancy Pelosi might; arguably, she already has. But she’s tougher and shrewder than any member of the Democratic presidential field.

Thus, even though Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are members of the House, I can imagine them having more impact in the presidential race than in the battle for the House.

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