Strong circumstantial evidence that, for the moment, she looms larger in the righty imagination than the lefty one.
It’s also circumstantial evidence, albeit not as strong, that the Green New Deal isn’t the political winner its fans think it is.
By no means is 31/41 a disaster, but Philip Klein notes that a different Gallup poll taken during the shutdown battle over ObamaCare in October 2013 found Ted Cruz’s favorable rating at 26/36 — identical to AOC’s in net favorability and actually slightly better in terms of lower unfavorability. To rephrase that, the obnoxious right-wing populist ringleader in a bright media spotlight for blocking funding for the federal government was less unpopular at the time than Ocasio-Cortez is now.
In September her overall favorability stood at 24/26. She’s declined since then among all age groups, both genders, independents — everyone except Dems and nonwhites. (Only +5 among the 18-34 cohort despite their left-wing sympathies and her “relatability”?) Among Democrats she’s at 56/15 favorability, among Republicans 5/73(!). That’s why she’s net negative on balance: Simply, right-wingers and righty media have paid her more attention than the wider public has, and the wider public has paid her plenty. She’s already become one of the country’s most prominent left-wing villains thanks to her magical combination of insanely unaffordable socialist programs, tedious intersectional blather in defense of the likes of Ilhan Omar, and combative social-media dimbulb-ery. She’s a star to her allies and her enemies but more so to her enemies, probably for the basic reason that some centrist Dems view her ambivalently whereas there’s something Republicans of all stripes can find to dislike about her.
Speaking of which, centrist Dems in Congress are beginning to clear their throats about her:
“As we run up to this presidential [election], we need to show that Democrats, as a whole, are not socialists,” said Rep. Katie Hill, who last November flipped a Southern California district that Republicans held for the previous quarter-century. “We’re not pushing for impeachment without serious cause and serious evidence.”…
“You have these four members frankly that were elected from seats that are going to be Democratic no matter what and represent a very small fraction of the party as a whole,” said Hill. “And it’s like they’re the only ones that exist.”…
“I can’t control whatever anyone else says, but I can control what I do. And I was voted in this seat to be an independent check,” said [Joe] Cunningham, whom GOP operatives have dubbed an “accidental congressman” after his victory in a coastal South Carolina seat Trump won by 13 points in 2016. “I think if you do that, and you have a clear record of that, and you’re honest and transparent about it — then people will send you back.”…
“We’re caught in a lose-lose because the activists are completely paying attention to Alexandria. And so if we aren’t supporting it, then we’re seen as bad Democrats,” said Hill. “But if we do support it, then that’s going to be damaging to our campaigns.”
We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? In 2010 the Democratic House majority was overflowing with “moderates,” all of whom got elected in 2008 by fending off GOP claims that they’d be hacks for Pelosi’s agenda when push came to shove. “Not I,” they said. “I’m an independent Democrat.” Then the dream of health-care reform was suddenly in reach and Pelosi laid down the law to them: Vote for it or else. And they did, for the simple reason that even a congressman from a swing district has more to fear from their own party than they do from the other. Whether you were a liberal Democrat voting for ObamaCare enthusiastically or an “independent Democrat” voting for it verrrrry reluctantly, you were voting for it. Because that’s how you avoid (a) a serious primary challenge from the left and (b) a collapse in left-wing support on Election Day in November even if you survive that primary challenge. If President Bernie insists that the Green New Deal be put on the floor in 2021, Pelosi will muscle her freshmen to get to 218.
Which is a long way of saying that centrist Dems should absolutely be held accountable for Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda. They’re the ones who’ll make it law, however grudgingly, if and when the opportunity arises. And big-ticket agenda items that become law are exceedingly hard to dislodge, as we’ve learned to our chagrin. Vote them out in 2020 and tell ’em when you do that AOC sent you.
By the way, Klein notes that just 29 percent of the public tells Gallup they’ve never heard of Ocasio-Cortez. She’s been in Congress for two months. As of July 2015, a decade after he joined the Supreme Court, 30 percent still hadn’t heard of John Roberts.
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