Photo: Shutterstock

Democrats want to be seen as the progressive party, but the latest Quinnipiac suggests that the majority of Democratic voters want more moderate policies.

Despite the many criticisms of Mayor Pete, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that Buttigieg (16%) rose to second place in front of both Elizabeth Warren (14%) and Bernie Sanders (13%).  In this poll, Buttigieg trailed Joe Biden (24%) by eight points but he rose two to three points ahead of strong contenders and is slowly closing in on Biden.

 Some say Mayor Pete has a number of flaws that may hinder his ability to gain additional momentum or defeat Trump if he were to gain the nomination. He is gay, which many say is not an asset when attracting a wide range of voters in the U.S. They also argue that he cannot seem to appeal to the Black population of democratic and independent voters, though this is a general problem with the democratic party, he cannot seem to implement progressive policies into the South Bend, Indiana police force, but his city is a part of a larger, national problem. 

Many wander why progressive politicians like Warren and Sanders are falling behind in this latest poll as centrists like Buttigieg and Biden gain momentum?

The Polls

For starters, this is merely one poll out of many being done every day. Warren and Sanders fell behind in this latest polls, but not all of them. In most polls, in fact, Buttigieg is still in fourth place. Though local polls are not always as reliable as national ones, there was a national poll that came out today from CNN that put Buttigieg still in fourth place with Biden, Sanders, and Warren sitting ahead, respectively. 

The only significant margin that exists in that CNN poll is that Biden sits a good eleven points ahead of the next candidate with the other three still duking it out for second place. What this shows is that the democratic left and center are fighting for second place, but it seems the party that claims a progressive base is still leaning towards those centered values. In other words, the progressive policies of both Sanders and Warren are losing out to the more centered approaches of Biden and Buttigieg.

Right now, Mayor Pete and former Vice President Joe Biden are the highest polling voices in the center. People know Biden, but they do not really know his policies. He is sometimes confused on the debate stage but seems more approachable face to face or in small groups. He is not the grandpa that is going to yell in your face about political revolution like Bernie Sanders. He does get angry when he is threatened but has a more even keeled approach to the issues. He is the grandpa that gave us the era of the wholesome Obama-Biden memes which make him relatable to younger crowds. Biden could win by surviving, riding on the popularity of Obama among Democrats.

Buttigieg, however, became a lot more popular after the last debate. He defended attacks with remarkable ease, made hard hitting points, spoke extraordinarily well, and did an excellent job proving why his policies are better than the rest of the candidates. He distinguished himself from the rest of the ever-growing pack of Democrats struggling to make it to the White House. 

Progressive vs Center

There are promising ideas that Warren and Sanders have such as ending student debt, free pre-K, plans to combat the climate crisis, and free college tuition. Their implementation, if successful, will help better the lives of a lot of people. It is understandable why these progressive policies are appealing to voters. Health Care is a significant issue for this election, and Mayor Pete’s solution falls somewhere between the rest of the prominent candidates, the public choice for all who want it, but those who are happy with their private insurance can keep it. Meanwhile, Warren and Sanders champion the progressive health care for all policy which does away with health insurance providers. The democratic party prides itself on being the progressive party, so why are these candidates not polling higher?

“Political revolutions,” as Bernie Sanders calls them, have a long history of progressive change in the U.S., and they do a lot of good. Yet, the ideas of Warren and Sanders, if implemented all at once, are not politically or financially workable. Sure, many other countries have these policies in place, but many of those countries do not have populations of three hundred and thirty million or more than twenty-two-trillion-dollars of national debt, which grows every day. I am sad to say that it will take more than one presidential term to see the changes Warren, Sanders, and their supporters are looking to make. 

It took twenty years for the U.S. to see the end of segregation and the Civil Rights Act because of the efforts of Civil Rights movements across the U.S. A hundred years of women’s activism produced the nineteenth amendment. Yet, these candidates want universal healthcare for all, a strong plan to end gun violence, a new immigration policy, free college education for everyone, the elimination of student debt, big plans to solve the climate crisis, a redistribution of wealth, and tighter controls on big business all in a four year term. Yes, it is an ever globalizing and increasingly fast paced world, but change is still not instantaneous.

The more Mayor Pete speaks, the more people begin to realize that these policies of Warren and Sanders’ are not possible, nor will they gain the support of Republicans in the House and Senate. Mayor Pete is certainly not the most progressive candidate in the field, but he may be the most practical and one of the most popular. Whatever lack of support he has with the more progressive voters, he gains with moderate democrats and any swing voters he can convince to follow his lead. 

It appears this election, after a hard turn to the conservative right last election, may go to moderate democrats who are more appealing to voters with their middle of the road approach. 

Unless Warren and Sanders can gain more momentum against Biden while staving off Buttigieg, they will continue on this downward trend. Then, it will be up to Biden and Buttigieg to duke it out for the democratic nomination. It will be young versus old, a seasoned veteran versus the up and comer. It really comes down to one question for the Democrats: who is more likely to beat Donald Trump?  Will the moderates or progressives win out in the end? The answer will be determined all too soon as the primary is quickly approaching: the first Tuesday in March, 2020.  

Margaret Valenti

Margaret Valenti is the Editor of Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today.