A U.S. House special election in Louisiana just delivered victory to another Democratic moderate. Troy Carter defeated Karen Carter Peterson, who ran well to his left. Both candidates are state senators. Both are Black. The congressional district, weirdly drawn to connect urban New Orleans with Baton Rouge, is the only one in Louisiana that sends a Democrat to Congress.
Political tone was the main difference between these two Democrats, and once again, the voters showed a preference for the moderate over the left-wing alternative. Peterson did herself no favors by letting her campaign send out flyers picturing her opponent with former President Donald Trump and the words “Troy Carter & his Trump supporters. Not for Us!”
New York City Democrats are now looking over a crowd of contenders vying to become the next mayor. They have several hard-left candidates to choose from, but polls for the June 22 primary put two of the moderates way ahead — entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. And that has some of the activists who kept telling us “the energy of the Democratic Party is on the left” scratching their heads.
“There seems to be a mismatch between who is leading in the New York City mayoral race and the tenor of the times that we’re supposed to be living in,” said Matthew Miles Goodrich of the left-wing Sunrise Movement.
The cloistered left’s inability to understand just how poisonous voters find such messages as “defund the police” makes one question its take on the tenor of the times we are actually in. Calls to slash the police budget at a time of rising violent crime is politically foolish, if not insane.
What, other than certain obsessions on Fox News, explains the exaggerated belief that the left dominates Democratic thought? The answer is undoubtedly the activists’ outsized presence on social media.
“The left is very loud in the online space and Twitter,” said Lis Smith, a strategist who worked on Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign and is now on Yang’s mayoral campaign. “The Brooklyn DSA types are not a big voting bloc.” (DSA stands for Democratic Socialists of America.)
There happen to be a lot of socially and economically conservative Democrats, especially among Blacks and Latinos. That explains Joe Biden’s spectacular turnaround from minor presence to front-runner during the Democratic primaries. All Biden needed for a romp through the Southern primaries, with their heavily Black electorate, was a nod from South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, face and voice of the left, backed the loser in Louisiana. Her enthusiastic campaigning for Bernie Sanders during the 2020 primaries didn’t get the Vermont senator very far, either. AOC has yet to endorse a New York mayoral candidate, though her allies in the Working Families Party have named their top three picks — all of whom remain further down in the polls.
Both Yang and Adams have carefully staked out moderate positions on policing. Adams, a Black former captain in the New York Police Department who was beaten by police as a teen, seems especially suited to strike a balance between public safety and criminal justice reform.
Then there is the economy. Both Yang and Adams are friendly toward business. New Yorkers obviously care about this, having elected multibillionaire entrepreneur Mike Bloomberg as mayor three times.
In the Louisiana runoff, Peterson wholeheartedly supported the Green New Deal and bashed the oil and gas industry, which happens to be one of the state’s largest industries. Carter wisely called for carefully weaning people off fossil fuels.
As the 2022 midterms approach, Democrats would do well to turn down the volume on Twitter and visit voters where they really live.
Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist, writes for the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.