Outside the social media bubble that Democratic activists are in, Democrats who will decide the primaries are increasingly moderate if not conservative, believe political correctness is a major issue, don't follow the news, and most of all, are far more likely to be black voters.
Perhaps the most telling poll of the Democratic primary season hasn’t been about the Democratic primary at all — but about the fallout from a 35-year-old racist photo on a yearbook page. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was pummeled on social media after the revelation, and virtually every Democratic presidential candidate demanded his resignation.
Yet the majority of ordinary Democrats in Virginia said Mr. Northam should remain in office, according to a Washington Post/Schar School polla week later. And black Democrats were likelier than white ones to say Mr. Northam should remain.
Today’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its “woke” left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.
The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online, according to data from the Hidden Tribes Project. This latter group has the numbers to decide the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of a relatively moderate establishment favorite, as it has often done in the past.
Even these results might understate the leftward lean of the most politically active, Democratic Twitter users, who often engage with political journalists and can have a powerful effect in shaping the conventional wisdom. In an informal poll of Democrats on one of our Twitter accounts on Monday, about 80 percent said they were liberal, and a similar percentage said they had a college degree. Only 20 percent said political correctness was a problem, and only 2 percent said they were black.
The relative moderation of Democrats who are not sharing their political thoughts on social media, and therefore of Democrats as a whole, makes it less surprising that Virginia Democrats tolerated Mr. Northam’s yearbook page. It makes it easier to imagine how Joe Biden might not merely survive questions about whether he touched women in ways that made them feel uncomfortable, but might even emerge essentially unscathed.
It also helps explain why recent polls show that a majority of Democrats would rather see the party become more moderate than move leftward, even as progressives clamor for a Green New Deal or Medicare for all.
Obama understood this. Clinton did too. Social media/beltway bubble activists are not the base, and Bernie Sanders found that out the hard way. And if you think the nominee is going to be from the far left of the party, I've got news for you.
They won't be. For all the yelling I do on here, I'm under no illusions that somehow I'm going to make a difference in a red state other than my own voice and my own vote.