New Yorkers have mixed feelings over the frenzy of Ocasio-Cortez

New Yorkers have mixed feelings over the frenzy of Ocasio-Cortez
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Less than a month in office, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDem lawmaker rips opposition to Amazon going into New York: 'Now we're protesting jobs' Reporter says majority appears to favor progressive tax plans Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union MORE is proving to be a power player. Her call for a top tax rate of 70 percent drove the discussion at Davos. Her Green New Deal, which is expected to be jointly introduced with Senator Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John Markey2020 Dem slams Green New Deal: As realistic as Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for wall EPA chief knocks Green New Deal: 'Not really ready for prime time' How to pay for the Green New Deal: Make the fossil fuel industry pay MORE, has already received outsized coverage. On top of that, Ocasio-Cortez has over 2.7 million followers on Twitter. It is not just about dance moves and online videos.

Despite all the fame, New Yorkers have not yet embraced the freshman lawmaker, at least not independents and suburbanites in the Empire State. A recent poll found that New Yorkers have rather mixed feelings about Ocasio-Cortez. Specifically, her favorability is up by only five points. She is down by 15 points out in the suburbs and is down by five points among independents. By contrast, Senator Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Trump says he 'didn't need to' declare emergency but wanted 'faster' action MORE is up by 15 points overall, while New York attorney general Letitia James is up by 22 points overall. Apparently socialism has its limits, even in reliably blue New York.


Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE, an Ocasio-Cortez mentor and campaign trail buddy, lost the 2016 New York presidential primary by a margin of almost three to two. In the 2018 gubernatorial primary, actress Cynthia Nixon was another “Democratic Socialist” who got shellacked in her bid to dethrone incumbent Andrew Cuomo. He won their party contest by better than 30 points. In Westchester County, a New York City suburb to the north, Cuomo scored a margin greater than 40 points, while over in Nassau County on Long Island, Nixon failed to muster even a quarter of the vote.

Celebrity did not translate into electability. The urge to burn Wall Street down to the ground or to recreate the world anew comes with limitations. In the aftermath of the Republican tax bill, its $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction, and the drop in home values, suburbanites took to voting for their interests as well as their wallets. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE rightly enrages them, but they still expect to see familiar economic signposts.

Supporting Planned Parenthood is one thing, and hauling the kids around after school is a given. However, calling for the abolition of private health insurance on the road to “Medicare for All” may but be something else, especially as a benefit divorced from work, in contrast to the current iteration predicated upon employment and payroll taxes. For better or worse, Ocasio-Cortez seems to crystalize the ideological fissures among Democrats, as well as the questions that will confront the party moving forward. Eventually, Trump will leave the White House, party unity will likely erode, and either a new normal will come to fruition or it will not.

As a reminder, the Democrats took over the House thanks to their ability to make inroads in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, states that went red in the 2016 election, and at the same time connecting with educated suburban women and their spouses. Coalition building is not easy, a task further complicated by the demographic and ideological diversity of the Democrats. Clintonian triangulation may be gone, but the industrial Midwest still needs to be won. Said differently, energy is only one part of winning elections, culture still counts, and votes matter most.

So what worked in the 14th District of New York, which is the Bronx and Queens where Ocasio-Cortez won, is not an automatic recipe for victory elsewhere. It can be fairly said that representatives from the upper west side of Manhattan and the south side of Chicago are shaped by conviction and circumstance, much like Republican representatives from the rural heartland or the deep south. Each of these is an echo chamber of sorts.

As both Democrats and Republicans continue to drift apart ideologically, voices further from the center will likely gain greater resonance. To put things in perspective, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, along with the president, can take a deep bow for a five week government shutdown. Unlike Coulter and Limbaugh, Ocasio-Cortez actually won an election, knocking off a vaunted incumbent in the process. That takes chops, but whether she can get beyond her base remains unclear, at least for now.

Lloyd Green worked as the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign and later served in the Justice Department. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.