Saturday, August 24, 2019

Democratic candidates continue to drift leftwards according to On The Issues

It's time for me to update On The Issues shows most of the Democratic candidates have moved left during the campaign, too as I've been promising all week, beginning with the summary.  Once again, the majority of candidates have become more liberal.  Eleven have moved to the left economically, two have moved to the left socially, and four have moved to the left along both axes for a total of sixteen moving to the left one way or another.  Meanwhile, six have remained in the same ideological spots, while three have moved to the right economically including one who became more socially liberal, four have become more socially moderate, including three who became more economically liberal, and one has moved to the right (center) along both axes.  Yes, someone is completely bucking the trend.

To explain my methodology, I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle.
Before I start, I'm sharing a reminder of my methodology.
[I] rank[ed] the candidates by economic score from low (left) to high (right, or in this case center) to make it comparable to the liberal-moderate (there are no true conservatives running for the Democratic nomination) ranking I used last [month and again earlier this month] which was based on the economic dimension [of Voteview's DW-Nominate scores].  I then used the social score to break ties in the economic score with high scores being considered more liberal and low scores being considered more conservative.
With that out of the way, here are the Democratic candidates from left to center based on their Vote Match scores at On The Issues.
Follow over the jump.

Bernie Sanders has returned to the point on the Nolan Grid he occupied in June, an economic score of 3 and a social score of 98.  Either way, Sanders retains his position as the most liberal according to On The Issues, especially now that Mike Gravel, who tied him for most socially liberal, dropped out.

Speaking of returning to the spot he started, Joe Sestak did exactly that, as On The Issues rates him as having an economic score of 8 and a social score of 88, making him the second most liberal according to my methodology.

At the time he dropped out, Seth Moulton had moved into the third spot from ninth.  Here's what I wrote about him yesterday.
Moulton himself serves as an example of the primary campaign pulling candidates to the left, as his ideological scores started off at 20 economic and 85 social in June, moved to 13 economic and 80 social in July, and dropped out at 8 economic and 83 social now.  He shifted left 12 points economically over the space of two months!  Even Moulton, who says doing so is a bad idea, couldn't resist the leftward pull!
In addition to serving as an example, I found Moulton's complaining about it a bit rich.  At least he is no longer in the contest, so I don't have to make a graphic for him.

Because I prioritize economic policy over social policy, I have a surprising candidate in fourth place, Amy Klobuchar.  She now has an economic score of 8 and a social score of 65.  She has moved to the left 2 points economically but to 3 points to the center socially, which returns her to where she was in June on the social axis, tying her for the most moderate socially with Wayne Messam.  This combination makes Klobuchar even more populist (possibly the most populist — I'd have to graph all the candidates) and the third most liberal candidate still in the race according to my methodology.  As for Kirsten Gillibrand, who was at the same ideological point on the Nolan Grid as Klobuchar in July, she's still at 10 on the economic scale and 68 on the social scale, placing her as the ninth most liberal.  She had been the seventh most liberal in July; staying in place while the field shifted left made her relatively less liberal.

Marianne Williamson has also continued to move to the left, as her economic score is now 10, three to the left of the 13 she rated in July.  Since her social score of 90 is 2 points more liberal than Elizabeth Warren, it places her one place closer to the left end of the spectrum than the Senator from Massachusetts to make her the fourth most liberal candidate in the contest.  As I snarked in a comment to Final Voyage at Kunstler's blog, "I'm not surprised.  Charlie Pierce wrote on Twitter that her campaign was like a lava lamp running for President."  As for Warren, her scores of 10 economic and 88 remained the same since July, but her place dropped from fourth to fifth, even as fellow Bay Stater Moulton dropped out.

Tim Ryan jumped even more to his left than Williamson from an economic score of 15 in June and July to an economic score of 10 now.  In addition, he became more liberal socially with his social score increasing to 83 from 80 in July.  That moved Ryan from twelfth to sixth most liberal candidate since July.

Joe Biden has continued to evolve socially, as his social score is now 80, two points more liberal than July and five more than June.  Combined with his so-far constant economic score of 10, it places him as the seventh most liberal candidate overall.  Biden is an Establishment figure, probably the most Establishment one running, and has a calm, moderate demeanor, but he espouses solidly progressive positions.  Even so, he has dropped from being the fifth most liberal candidate in July.

Another candidate that Democratic voters consider Establishment is Kamela Harris, whose economic score increased from 8 to 10, making her two points less liberal.  Meanwhile, her social score remained constant at 78.  In June, that combination placed as the third most liberal; now, she's the eighth most liberal.  Again, standing still is allowing other candidates to pass her to her left.  That may not be a bad idea; I think both Harris and Biden are seeking the center of the primary field.

I've already discussed Gillibrand, who is currently the ninth most liberal candidate in the field, so on to Julian Castro, who has moved to the left along both the economic and social axes.  He currently has an economic score of 13, five to the left of the 18 he had in June and July.  His social score is now 80, two higher than the 78 he had the past two reports.  Rounding up to the nearest multiples of five, that puts at the same location on the Nolan Grid as Ryan, which is why the two of them share an infographic.  That has pushed him to the left relative to the field, as Castro is now the tenth most liberal candidate still running, whereas he was the fifteenth in July, cementing his rating as a Hard-Core Liberal according to On The Issues.

Before he dropped out to run for re-election as Washington Governor, Jay Inslee became more liberal socially as his social score increased from 85 to 88 while his economic score remained at 15.  That ranked him as the twelfth most liberal, as Moulton was still in the contest at the time.  As it is, all the candidates to his right get to move up two places and I don't have to make an image for him.  Next!

Bill de Blasio had quite the reputation as a liberal when he declared his candidacy, but his scores at On The Issues didn't reflect it in June, when he had an economic score of 25 and a social score of 83.  He moved into Hard-Core Liberal territory in July, when his scores became 20 and 80.  This month, his scores definitely reflect his reputation, as he now has an economic score of 15 and a social score of 85, a shift to the left of five points along both axes and a total move in the liberal direction of 10 points, the most of any candidate during the past month, enough to move him from seventeenth to eleventh most liberal in the field.  That makes him the median candidate ideologically according to my method right now.

Beto O'Rourke moved to the left economically from 18 to 15 but became more moderate socially from 88 to 83.  That put him in the same spot as Andrew Yang, who held in place with an economic score of 15 and a social score of 83.  In O'Rourke's case, that moved him left from thirteenth to tied for twelfth.  In Yang's, it dropped him from eleventh to tied for twelfth.  Once again, staying in place will get one passed.

In June's entry analyzing the candidates' scores at On The Issues, I noted the disconnect between Cory Booker's ranking according to On The Issues and his ranking according to Voteview.  July's analysis showed that he moved to the left, decreasing the discrepancy.  Booker has continued moving to the left, at least economically, as he now has an economic score of 18, two to the left of the 20 he had in July and seven to the left of the 25 he had in June.  Meanwhile, his social score dropped five from 85 to 80, making him more moderate along that axis.  Since no other candidate currently has an economic score of 18, it doesn't matter as I don't need to use his social score as a tiebreaker.  Consequently, Booker is now the fourteenth most liberal candidate, up from sixteenth last month.

In July, I observed that "in the space of one day, Tom Steyer went from scores of 38 economic and 60 social to 30 economic and 73 social, making him jump from being tied for the third most moderate candidate, to the left of only Steve Bullock and John Hickenlooper, to being the twenty-second most liberal to the left of Tulsi Gabbard."  Steyer has continued to move to his left, decreasing his economic score seven points from 30 to 23 while maintaining his social score at 73.  He is now tied with Michael Bennet, who also has an economic score of 23 and a social score of 73 for the fifteenth most liberal candidates.  That's a jump of seven places for Steyer and five for Bennet.  It helped that three candidates to their left dropped out and another moved to their right.

I'm going to repeat what I wrote about Wayne Messam in July.
Wayne Messam, whose evaluation at On The Issues prompted my re-examination of the candidates, still has an economic score of 65 and a social score of 25, making him a Moderate Liberal.  Right now, I rank him as the twenty-first most liberal candidate.  Let's see how long that lasts, although I suspect he might drop out before his scores change.
Again because of a combination of three candidates to his left dropping out and one moving to his right, Messam is another candidate to remain in place and move up in the rankings from twenty-first to seventeenth.

When I credited one candidate moving to their right along with three candidates dropping out for the movement up the ranks of Bennet, Messam, and Steyer, that candidate was John Delaney, who returned to his June economic score of 28 after scoring 23 in July while maintaining his July social score of 83.  However, because of the three candidates to his left who dropped out, his rank rose from nineteeth to eighteenth most liberal candidate still in the field.  Anyone who watched his performance in the second pair of Democratic debates in Detroit shouldn't be surprised.  CNN used him as an attack dog on behalf of the party's moderate wing against the most prominent progressives on the stage, Sanders and Warren.  In the opinion of a lot of liberal viewers, he lost to Warren, but as I observed on Twitter, "Delaney is rich, self-funding, and on a mission to tell the liberals off. It will be a while before he drops."  FiveThirtyEight seems to agree, as they didn't pick him in Our First 2020 Drop-Out Draft.  At least he isn't likely to be on the debate stage again to be used to generate conflict between the left and center.

When I wrote above that "one has moved to the right (center) along both axes" and "someone is completely bucking the trend" of moving to the left, I was referring to Pete Buttigieg, whose economic score has increased 10 points and social score decreased 8 points since July to 28 and 70, respectively.  That places him to the right of his position in June, when his economic score was 23 and social score was 73!  As a result, Buttigieg has dropped from fourteenth to nineteenth.  On The Issues now rates him as a Moderate Liberal.  If one wants a major candidate that is a true moderate, it's Mayor Pete, not Biden.

On the other hand, Steve Bullock moved to his left on both axes, going from an economic score of 33 to 30 and a social score of 68 to 70.  That, and three candidates to his left dropping out and yet another moving to his right economically raised his rank from twenty-fourth to twentieth.

Thanks to John Hickenlooper dropping out to run for U.S. Senate from Colorado, Tulsi Gabbard is now the most conservative candidate running for the Democratic nomination.  Her economic score increased from 33 to 35, the highest of any candidate in the contest, while her social score increased to 85, making her the most libertarian candidate running among the Democrats.  As this entire project of mine began with me debunking the idea of Tulsi Gabbard "being objectively further left then the rest of the Dem primary field" and pointing out she was among the most conservative, if not the most conservative, this result gives me great pleasure.  Ha, ha, ha, ha!  I told you so!

Finally, even John Hickenlooper couldn't resist being pulled to the left.  At the time he dropped out, his economic score went from 38 to 35, tying Gabbard's.  If he were still in the race, his social score of 70 would have broken the tie for most moderate, but it doesn't matter anymore.  Good luck running for Senate, where you will do yourself, Colorado, and the country more good!

That's it for this analysis.  Stay tuned for the winners of the Golden Coffee Cups for the 2017-2018 television season.


  1. They sound more Left, but most of them would not govern that way. Those, like Harris, Booker, etc, are just blowing smoke.

    1. Hi, Nebs! Welcome back to commenting here!

      I'm not convinced, as Voteview shows Harris's and Booker's voting records are to the left of Bernie Sanders. Voting is how they govern as Senators, after all.

  2. Also, who the fuck is Wayne Messam??