A poll: Will wokeism hurt the Democrats in the midterms and in 2024?

June 11, 2021 • 12:20 pm

We haven’t had a poll in a while, and of course polls on this site aren’t scientific, because readers are hardly a cross section of America. But they are a cross section of readers—unless, of course, those prone to give answers have some biases. Actually, I do this for myself, just to see how readers feel.

This poll was inspired by an article sent by reader Barry and posted by Ben Cohen on his Substack site, The Banter. You’ll have to subscribe to read it (click below), but some of Cohen’s posts are free, so subscribe if you like them.


Cohen was inspired by this recent article in the NYT showing that “the party is at risk of losing ground with Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters unless it does a better job presenting an economic agenda and countering Republican efforts to spread misinformation and tie all Democratic candidates to the far left.” (You can read the original report by three groups here.)

But how can a party at war with itself, like the Democrats are now, “rebut Republican misinformation”? Every squabble between the center and “progressive” Left (I have to find a new adjective there) weakens party unanimity and causes Republicans on the sidelines to chuckle.

It turns out that, as many of us knew, identity politics and Wokeism are largely endeavors of white people on the progressive Left. Issues like “defunding the police” or drastically opening up the border don’t go down so well with voters of color, who are concerned largely with economic issues (who isn’t?)  Here are two quotes from Cohen’s piece:

The major issue with the identity politics movement is not necessarily the ideology itself. If you ignore the more militant aspects of it, there are many necessary, noble and good ideas embedded in it. From understanding structural racism to the complex issues faced by the LGBTQ community, identity politics can offer an interesting lens through which to examine them. The biggest problem though, is the right’s ability to magnify the extremist elements of the movement and unfairly tie the Democratic Party to it.

I don’t spend a huge amount of time talking about the identity politics left because it isn’t a dangerous movement like the far right is, and although influential, it is still relatively small. But if you follow the right wing media, you would be forgiven for thinking that Black Lives Matter was an offshoot of Al Qaeda, and Nancy Pelosi was ordering militant lesbian doctors to abort the fetuses of good Christian women around the country. The more mainstream identity politics gets, the more Republicans are able to use it as a rallying cry for their bigoted policies and distract voters from the good the Democrats are doing in office. Furthermore, it is helping Republican efforts to drive more conservative minorities away from the Democrats.

Cohen adds that of course the Democrats’ biggest problem isn’t the Woke among us, but Trumpism, which—despite my efforts to ignore it—appears to be waiting nearby in the wings, and still dominates the GOP. But the ruling political party tends to lose in the midterms, and our Democratic margin is already damn thin.

When Biden won, I worried that his administration would be too woke, and that that position would hurt the Dems down the line. It turns out that Biden isn’t that woke, and has been doing some pretty good stuff, but he’s always being pressured by the progressive  Authoritarian Left, and I wonder about his ability to withstand that pressure. (Pelosi’s presence helps.) We don’t want to lose the House and—Ceiling Cat forbid—the Senate in next year’s midterms.

Do you think the wokeness of the “progressive” wing of Democrats might turn the tide for the GOP? I have no definite opinion, but I worry.  So give your answer to the poll below and your explanation in the comments, please.

And yes, I know that Trump is a bigger danger than, say, “the squad,” so I needn’t be apprised of that.

Will the wokeism of the "progressive Democrats", or wokeism in general, hurt the Democrats in 2022 or 2024?

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38 thoughts on “A poll: Will wokeism hurt the Democrats in the midterms and in 2024?

  1. The only way Trump is a problem for the Dems at the moment is if Biden reflexively does the opposite of Trump, as he seems to be doing. The border mess is definitely an own-goal on the administration’s part, and they seem unable to comprehend that. I think wokeness is a big problem for Democrats, but a bigger problem is that the Dems have a bare majority in Congress, but are trying to act like they have mandate, and are failing. Nothing fails so well as failure.

    1. Mitch McConnell wouldn’t let the Democrats get a pro-motherhood bill past a senate filibuster.

      Any other time a political party has lost the house, the senate, and the presidency in the course of two elections, that party has always tried to broaden its appeal to the electorate (as the GOP proposed doing in its 2013 “autopsy” after Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama — and then proceeded to ignore).

      Not the Republicans nowadays. (Has anyone here heard a single prominent Republican talking about broadening the Party’s appeal?) The GOP’s only plan is to keep Trump’s deplorables placated and to suppress voter turnout of the “wrong” people in the next election, while running on the Democrats’ failure to enact Biden’s legislative agenda (viz., the agenda Republicans are blocking it at every turn). Policy and popularity be damned, is Yertle the Turtle Mitch McConnell’s attitude. The ONLY thing that matters to him — the only thing that has EVER mattered to him — is gaining control of the senate majority leader’s gavel.

      1. The Democrat’s version of a Pro-Motherhood bill would probably call for legal documents to henceforth refer to the “birthing parent.” McConnell can keep his filibuster and just let them keep talking.

  2. I don’t like lumping the two elections together, because my answer is “no (2022); maybe (2024).”

    I’m going with the bog-standard political analysis that mid-terms are a referendum on the accomplishments of the current administration, plus the economy. As you say, Biden hasn’t actually implemented much wokeness, so I don’t think leftists arguing to defund the police are going to hurt him in 2022. Instead, it’ll be about whether the populace thinks he has accomplished things they want done or helped the economy recover ‘enough’. If they like what his administration has done, he’ll do fine regardless of how the far left yells. And if they’re impatient with what he’s done and think the recovery is still too slow, he’ll do badly (but again, regardless of what the woke say they want).

    As for 2024 though, that’s a whole new kettle of fish. I can’t predict whether wokeness will hurt him then, because I have no idea how much wokeness will be in the Dem platform that year. I would hope he would stick to the ‘winning formula’ of being moderate, but if he has a strong, popular challenger to the left, and that might push him to adopt a more left-leaning platform.

  3. “I don’t spend a huge amount of time talking about the identity politics left because it isn’t a dangerous movement like the far right is, and although influential, it is still relatively small.” We are reading different media, Jerry. Wokeism has penetrated to the heart of higher ed, the blue media machine, and corporate Human Resources departments, at the very least. A case in point: recent protests and riots. The blue media machine viewed the marches, fires and breaking glass, the invasion of federal buildings, the looting, killing, intimidating passers by, and the pulling down and defacing of historic monuments, all as protests when done by youngsters in the name of racial justice. When done once by adults in the name of a perceived stolen election, the peaceful protest part was dropped and the event was called an insurrection. Same behavior exactly. You fear the far right. There are a double handful of far right whackadoodles who are willing to fight the government but they have no power. There is no machine supporting them and their philosophical allies abhor violent behavior so they have no institutional backing. The woke machine has youth, cachet and powerful institutional backers, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The far right is generally older and is in the FBI’s crosshairs. We have different perceptions of how power is distributed in our country. I love that and your blog.

    1. Although I could comment on your worldview, I will just rebut one thing you have said, namely that the Speaker of the House backs the Woke as if she accepts their tenets. Quite the opposite is true. As Speaker, Pelosi has the extremely difficult task of keeping the Democratic caucus united in light of its paper thin majority. As such, she cannot alienate the few far leftists in Congress by continually condemning them as some people with a limited knowledge of politics would like her to do. At best, she tolerates them. It is hard to imagine Pelosi acceding or adhering to the views of the Woke. By the way, saying that the far right has no institutional backing or no power is beyond my understanding. I wonder what you would call Fox News and the Republican Party. Perhaps you don’t consider them far right

      1. You raised some excellent points, Historian. I withdraw my description of Speaker Pelosi, you have the better case. And you may be pegging me correctly. I don’t watch Fox News or vote Republican very often but I consider both to be right of center, not far right. Many of the folks who stormed the Capitol may be far right. The folks who took over a wildlife center in Oregon clearly were. But if any of those folks were supported by the Republican establishment or Fox News I’m unaware of it.

        1. The people who stormed the Capitol were supported by the President of the United States. That’s quite establishment. He was, in turn, protected from impeachment (twice) by a lot of mainstream establishment Republicans.

          Fox News isn’t the only right wing media outlet. NewsMax and OAN come to mind. All of these channels were very much reporting the “stolen” election.

  4. Regardless of what the Democrats do to limit the damage likely to be caused by the Woke, including become better practitioners of the art of politics, it will take a minor miracle for them to hold the House in 2022. As the Wikipedia article shows (cited below), it seems to be a law of American politics that the president’s party suffers losses in the mid-terms, particularly in the House. The magnitude of these losses has sometimes been great. With their current paper thin majority, it should surprise no one if Kevin McCarthy becomes the next Speaker. On the other hand, American politics has become so bent out of shape that perhaps the Democrats can avoid what seems to be the inevitable. This faint hope keeps me from sinking into despair.


    1. A lot of things lately have defied history, perhaps the 2022 elections will be another. While the Big Lie and the unrepentant GOP are still going strong, they have the seeds of their own destruction built in. It’s possible the Big Lie will die from a thousand cuts. The stupid AZ vote recount will go nowhere. Trump won’t be reinstated in August. More and more stuff will come out on the 1/6 insurrection. The perpetrators are going to start be convicted and going to jail and/or singing like canaries. Trump himself will be fighting legal battles on many fronts. Some of Trump’s inner circle have their own hopes of picking up where he left off. They are going to get impatient and run afoul of Trump. Trump really doesn’t support anyone but himself. In short, there are a lot of things that stand to go wrong for Trump and the GOP.

      1. My, it almost sounds like someone here has been following some of the actual news. Today and yesterday all the stuff about Trump using the justice department and his crooked attorney generals to spy directly on members of congress going way back to 2017. The new attorney general seems to be coming to life and gave a speech on voter rights and all the mess going on right now. Maybe the justice department will begin doing something besides nothing on that most important thing happening right now. The thing about the republicans now is – they have nothing. They stand for nothing and there is no platform except Trump. I do not see them lasting much longer and eventually Trump will be indicted and convicted. I believe the Manhattan folks will get him on tax fraud and some additional crimes

    2. Ever since Tr*mp announced his candidacy for the president, people have been making the mistake of assuming politics is business as usual. Everything has changed. Your precedents no longer apply (if they ever did – they strike me as an appeal to history) .

      I’m not saying the Republicans won’t take the House in 2022, but you need better reasons than “that’s what happened last time”. This will be the first time since the Second World War that the mid term elections coincide with coming out of a global crisis (I hope). It may also be the first time that they coincide with the trial of a former president.

      We are living in Interesting Times, and, frankly, I’m not a fan.

      1. Very good. Amazing to me that some from other countries seem to understand our politics better than we do.

  5. As Eric points out, much improved health and economic conditions should help the Democrats in 2022. But I fear that this will depend at least somewhat on candidates of the classic Center-Left disassociating themselves strongly from the infantile Left, and all of its police-defunding affectations, pronoun worship, and other performances. The Center-Left should make clear that New Dealish and Green policy proposals are absolutely distinct from the indifference to civic order that is taken for “cool” by some activists in west coast cities. The same principles will apply in 2024—especially if the Republicans have managed to evade/downplay their present clown-car situation, the way some Repubs (like Nikki Haley) are attempting to do.

    We old-timers cannot escape recollecting events of the 60s/early 70s, and sequelae. The performances of the Jacobs-Ayers-Dohrn wing of the anti-war movement didn’t amount to much, outside of some broken windows in downtown Chicago in 1969—but performances create an audience, and the audience’s reactions can last a long time. Remember the phrase “Reagan Democrats”?

    1. George Will, recalling the 1969 Days of Rage, reminisced that, as a young conservative activist, his heart soared with joy, because he knew that what he was seeing would fuel a huge backreaction by the still center/right majority of the American votership, leading to a strong and enduring rightward swing. It’s never been hard for Republicans to leverage the actions of the far left into a convincing narrative that the Democrats in general represent radical, dangerous tendencies contrary to the aspirations of American culture. This is without question the kind of thing they’ll be going for in the midterms; the question is, can the Democrats deliver enough bread-and-butter improvements to enough different national constituencies to counter that narrative with the kind of substantial gains that play best when Main Street votes?

      It’s true, as PT and RS have noted, that the Trump brand itself may implode and certainly possible that the Orange Man will wind up in orange all the way down. But the Hawleys and Gaetzes out there will be if anything further enabled in that scenario. The Republicans have pretty much become the party of Trumpism, which will be a major player on the national political scene regardless of whether or not its founder winds up with the long yellow sheet he deserves. And if the Democratic strategy fails to recognize that many of the emerging constituencies among minority voters are not particularly `progressive’, they’re in danger of going south in a major way in the next presidential election cycle. It’s time for some really hard-headed thinking among Democratic leaders and strategists; input from people like James Carville is desperately needed, and should be taken super-seriously and actively pursued, to avoid the kind of blunders that the Dems are particularly prone to in these kinds of circumstances.

      1. “But the Hawleys and Gaetzes out there will be if anything further enabled in that scenario [Trump imploding].”

        They will but it is unlikely that any of the current batch of GOP loonies will rise to Trump’s former level. Plus, in some cases they will be pitted against each other. None of them show Trump’s ability to take people down. Even if they did, I suspect the reaction from many would be, “Didn’t we just see this movie?” Some say Ron DeSantis would take over for Trump. I don’t see it. If he did rise, unless Trump was dead, he’d find some way to take him down.

  6. Dunno, much too early to tell. A year and a half (let along the three and a half years to the next presidential election) is about a hundred lifetimes in terms of politics.

    1. Although it is very likely that the Republicans will take the House in 2022, an element of uncertainty is added to the mix when one takes into the consideration the fact that voting blocs in the electorate are not acting the way many pundits think they should. Specifically, Hispanics have been drifting to the Republicans while white voters are drifting to the Democrats.

      Longtime Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeira is particularly concerned about the rightward drift of Hispanics. Although they still overwhelming support Democrats that support has eroded somewhat and can make the difference in close elections. In the article I have read, he does not discuss the reason for this. Hence, I speculate. One possible explanation is that the Woke belief that there is an alliance between black and brown people is simply not as strong as they think. Because the nation is embroiled in particularly nasty outbursts of tribalism, it could be that Hispanics are starting to view the Democratic Party as being too favorable to Blacks while ignoring them. Of course, the right wing is relentless in its attempt to portray the Democrats and the Woke as one and the same. To the degree that this is true, the Woke are hurting Democrats since Hispanics are a key element in the Democratic coalition. Nothing would please Republicans more than to have the Hispanics and blacks come to distrust each other.


  7. Wokeness will definitely hurt the Dems but the question is how much? I suspect it may not hurt them as much by the time November 2022 rolls around. There will be bigger issues by then.

    IMHO, the Dems biggest problem is messaging. They should listen to people like James Carville. They should have been spending money to fight the Big Lie. The longer they leave it out there, the more it becomes accepted wisdom among GOP voters. It may already be too late.

    I actually worry more about 2022 than 2024. The Dems could easily lose control of both houses. I’m not saying they will but if history is anything to go by, they are at risk. With the GOP in the state that it’s in, it will be a disaster for them to have control of both House and Senate. Not only will they completely block Biden’s agenda, they’ll do what they can to set up the 2024 steal/coup attempt.

  8. I recently wrapped up a read of Jon Lee Anderson’s biography of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who is a frightening reminder of exactly why we should be afraid of the Authoritarian Left. He was a very intelligent, compassionate, charismatic man. Dude walked the walk and talked the talk, as they say, exhibiting all the while an unshakable commitment to improving the plight of exploited and marginalized people.

    Unfortunately, he found harebrained Marxist ideologies irresistible. Seduced by a seemingly one-size-fits-all explanation for all of human history and visions of a communist utopia, Guevara turned bloodthirsty. He was willing to murder anyone and everyone who stood in his way–even openly pining for nuclear armageddon, sure that a rosy, love-thy-neighbor paradise would rise from the ashes.

    The authoritarian left is no different. They know what utopia looks like. They know what stands in its way. And they know that the traditional means by which folks come to know anything–science, reason, evidence–are corrupt instruments straight out of the oppressor’s toolbox. They’re religious maniacs, in short, who certainly seem willing (if not necessarily able) to do absolutely anything to uproot the evil they see practically everywhere.

    It’s no surprise that the political right would latch onto this nonsense and publicize it far and wide. However cynical and disingenuous their concern, it is terrible press for the Democrats–which, in an effectively two party system, is a de facto win for the GOP. Past outright GOP cheating, the only way Democrats loose control of the House and Senate is through outright political ineptitude. Sadly, they have a history of that sort of thing. I really hope they can muster the motivation and wherewithal to break the pattern.

  9. Yes, I think Woke-ism is hurting the Democrats, and not a little bit.
    ‘Defunding the police’ (instead of, say, ‘reforming the police’), who came up with such an idiotic slogan?
    ‘Open borders’ and disbanding the ICE: Grist to the Republican mill.
    Transgender ‘women’ to compete in women’s events (Biden gave in to this idiocy).
    CRT, seriously?
    And wokeness having taken over much of the higher educational institutions human rights organisations and formerly revered press institutions (as we regularly read on this website)?
    Those are things that scare ‘independents’ and more centrist voters. It scares me too.
    Sometimes I even wonder if these Ctrl leftists are not on the payroll of some Alt right operatives. we need to broaden the ‘space’ moderates in the middle.

  10. Beyond “yes”, the question is, how much wokism will hurt. To that, I don’t know. I hope only a small bit. But, Dems don’t have a small bit to give given the small margins. I’m not optimistic, but other factors could come into play before the election, such as strong performance by the Dems leading up to the elections, the death of DT, war with Russia or China, etc. Not that I’m actually hoping for death and war, but…you know…

  11. The Democratic party has not become two separate entities quite yet so I don’t think it’ll affect the midterms but if we don’t nip this in the bud we will be in trouble by the time the next presidential election comes around

  12. At this point, Manchin and Sinema are a lot more problematic for the 2022/24 elections than the Woke. If these two intransigent Senators block Biden’s agenda, thus helping the Republicans’ succeed in their cynical plan of blocking Biden’s most important legislation, they will be able to use the same messaging they used (and succeeded) against Obama. “Look! Biden can’t get anything done! He’s weak and feckless! And btw, since I have your ear, he’s a liberal, socialist, Marxist!” Unfortunately, too many Americans will believe the ruse. And all the while, a majority of states continue to introduce hundreds of bills that work to dismantle voting rights, suppress the vote, create new state powers to overturn elections, and all catalyzed by the Big Lie. As others have pointed out, Dems need to work on their messaging and more importantly, they need to get shit done…going reconciliation on the Infrastructure bill is a no-brainer. It’s hard to understand why they can’t seem to rise to the occasion; all the polls are highly favorable on most of the issues Democrats want to confront. So back to my first point, they need to get big bills passed and do it quickly and this will mean all 50 Democrats need to be on board; and if they really want to rev up the base and get the boldest legislation passed, modify or blow up the anachronistic filibuster.

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you…….all this perseverating about ‘ wokeism’ while politics is hamstrung by 19th century absurdities like the Electoral College, the filibuster, and, yes, the Senate….very reminiscent of the House of Lords from my native country….utterly unfit for purpose, a place where legislation approved by overwhelming majorities goes to die….meanwhile the GOP grows ever more fascistic/anti-democratic…ffs get your heads out of your arses and fight for real, progressive change.

  13. I think there is way too much time and effort spent on the democrats, woke or otherwise. When do we see anything on what the republicans have been doing now and for the past 4 years. Not at this web site. All you see here is primarily about the damn far left. Often I think I am reading a moderate, if there is such a thing, republican web site.

    It will be domestic and international events that will determine how elections go not what some left wing nut said that offended other so-called democrats. In 2024 Trump will not be available for any office as he will be up to his rear in legal actions against him. He is no more than a two bit mob boss and most all of them eventually end up in prison. The republican cult will slowly burn itself out. Right now it is the democrats that have passed some legislation and are removing the virus that Trump let loose in the country. Soon they will get to another bill on infrastructure. This is what the country needs not all this BS about what the woke are doing. Give it a rest.

    The only thing stopping the democrats is themselves if they don’t kill all the voter suppression that is currently job one by the cult.

    1. I think it is critical that not all the pushback against authoritarian leftism comes from the right. There’s no shortage of criticism of the Trumpublicans elsewhere, but too many liberals are either supporting the march towards authoritarian thought-policing, or just staying silent.

      1. Yet another sad example of ‘what-about-ism’. There is absolutely no comparison between a Democratic Party that abides by democratic norms (free an fair elections, etc.) and the fascistic, vote-suppression GOP

  14. It is normal that the party of a sitting president to not do well in the midterm elections. If the radical entity continues, it is likely that Democrats will loose both the House and Senate and as a consequence no Biden initiative will be successful after the midterms in my opinion.

  15. I think that the main problem which plagued the Trump administration was that people were sometimes unable to see past the aura of brash and inarticulate comments that Trump made. If you really look at the facts, the Trump administration had lots of great accomplishments. There were more women holding posts in the admin than in either the Clinton or Obama admin, unemployment dropped among the poorest Americans, including blacks, due to efforts to promote business. Trump worked with historically black colleges (some of which were panned by Obama) to get funding. There were many efforts towards deregulation, which helped business and industry. And let’s not forget that the push to get the Covid vaccine fast tracked was put forward by Trump, at the same time that many in the media were cutting him down for pushing it into the market without extensive testing. The irony is that if Trump had run as a Democrat, he would have gotten lots of accolades from the media, but because he ran as a Republican he was cut down. I see that the disinformation and smear tactics are coming equally (OR MORE SO) from the left than the right.

    I’m a secular, highly educated, GLBT person, and the child of an immigrant, however, the extreme “wokeness,” the vilification of white people and cops, and capitalist policies which have brought millions out of poverty, allowed for scientific advancement, greater women’s and minorities rights, and better standards of livings for everyone, is offensive to me. In fact, I believe that the insanity perpetrated by the left has pushed me even more to the (libertarian) right of where I might have fallen naturally. The left is now pushing policies based on emotion rather than reason. Any attempt at arguing based on empirically obtained biological evidence is taboo. Anyone attempting to use statistics and numerical data to explain crime patterns is branded immediately as a racist. The classical liberalism which protected individual rights and made this country an amazing place to live has been squelched. This is not the country that I grew up in, and if trends persist we will fall like the Roman Empire which we have modeled ourselves after.

    1. Yeah, Trump might have been regarded as the best president ever, rather than the worst, if only the Left and the media would have treated him fairly. Are you actually able to sell that to anyone at all?

      I will give him credit for starting the vaccine program but it must have been an accident. Someone within his inner circle was able to convince him that it would benefit him directly. We’re just lucky he didn’t find a way to screw it up. Oh wait, he did screw it up. He planted the seeds for COVID denial that has led to us not being able to fully vaccinate the US population.

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