There is a lot of ink and electrons being used by the press to hype the victory of the Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional district. The reason such a big deal is being made of this is due to the fact that she upset a long term incumbent, despite the fact that she was outspent nearly 18 to 1.
The incumbent, Joe Crowley, was the leading candidate to take over as the Speaker of the House, should the Democrats win back that body. Moveon is hailing this as some sort of change for the Democrats where this “blue wave” of Socialism, led by the nation’s youth, will sweep the nation. A quote from Moveon:
These results are also a shot across the bow of the Democratic establishment in Washington: a young, diverse, and boldly progressive Resistance Movement isn’t waiting to be anointed by the powers that be. Americans from all walks of life who demand change are taking reins of power and showing the Democratic Party what its future looks like.
I don’t think so. Her platform includes eliminating immigration enforcement, free health care, free college, free houses, loosening of criminal enforcement, and guaranteed Federal jobs for everyone. She has no real plan for funding these ideas, except “raise taxes.”
A closer look at exactly how she won the Primary indicates that her win is less about a sea of change and more about voter apathy. She won just shy of 16,000 votes out of 27,000 cast, in a district with over 236,000 registered Democrats. That equates to a voter turnout of under 12 percent. In fact, looking at the turnout in New York, turnout for Democrats was between 4 and 14 percent. On the other hand, turnout for Republicans was mostly between 15 and 19 percent.
I don’t think that this primary is as much a sea change as it is a statistical anomaly caused by low voter turnout. Where this is significant is that a twenty year Congressman who was a leader in the House was ousted, and will be replaced by a freshman. New York 14 is a solid Blue district, where 80% of voters vote Democrat, 70% of residents don’t speak English, and that won’t change in November. I think what we are seeing is the traditional base of the Democrats is staying home, and this places some of the Democrat seats in jeopardy.
Voter turnout will have a huge factor in the upcoming elections, as it always does in midterms. With no real platform other than “resist Trump” it remains to be seen whether or not the Democrats can energize their base enough to make a difference.