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Progressives Are Going to Have The Problem Conservatives Had With McCain and Romney

Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Joe Biden, and people we have not even considered are all piling in to run for President. Warren, on the campaign trail in Iowa this weekend, declared she was not sure if Trump would be a free person by 2020.

It was a necessary statement for her in two ways. First, it got everyone buzzing about her while she competed for news coverage with both Cory Booker, also in Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar, who declared she was running. Second, it got everyone to stop talking about the American Indian story.

But this increasingly crowded field, with an increasingly leftward push, is going to cause the progressives to encounter conservatives’ John McCain and Mitt Romney problem.

In both 2008 and 2012, most of the candidates veered to the right, which allowed the eventual nominees to run closer to the middle. The conservative field fractured and the more moderate candidates captured the nomination. Ironically, Mitt Romney lost to John McCain in 2008, as Romney fought for dominance among all the conservative candidates. McCain stayed on a consistent track of moderation in tone and wound up joining with Sarah Palin to try to lock in conservatives at the convention.

Mitt Romney, in 2012, learned the McCain lesson and stormed up the center aisle, moderating his positions and tone.

Democrats risk that happening on the opposite side with Harris, O’Rourke, Warren, Sanders, and more crowding the left side, allowing someone to run closer to the center. We could see that this weekend with Cory Booker offering up a more hopeful, less combative message, as Warren attacked President Trump sharply. If Biden gets in, we will probably see even more of that. Additionally, there is polling showing the average Democrat voter is hoping for more moderation. Progressivism may not be as ascendant on the left as we on the right expect. But we do know that in terms of money, organization, and voice, that’s where it is. And that could cause as much disruption for the Democrats over the next few years as the conservative angst in the GOP caused Republicans, eventually leading to Trump.

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