Politico finds a watershed moment for the Democrat Party in New York’s widely-reported defeat of long-term incumbent congressman Joe Crowley by 28-year-old bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Young, affluent, miseducated Dummer Junger representatives of the community of fashion are out-voting the older working class and minority democratic party constituencies and driving the party way farther to the Left.
Daniel Bonthius was never much interested in politics before Donald Trump came along. Both his parents are involved in the labor movement, but he earned a musical theater degree in Boston and moved to New York City to make it as an actor. Like many of the cityâ€™s aspiring actors, Bonthius, 33, was waiting tables and working for an event plannerâ€”and had been doing it for most of a decade when Donald Trump obliterated the political system in 2016.
After the election, a shocked Bonthius invited friends over to his home in Sunnyside, Queens, a one-time Irish enclave that has seen an influx of new residents. â€œI just wanted to talk out what happened with people who felt the same way I did,â€ he says. That gathering eventually morphed into an Indivisible group, a grass-roots left-wing answer to the Tea Party, and in early 2017 it hosted a new candidate for Congress the first time she met with an organized group of voters: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
â€œIt just seemed like she is a real person running for office,â€ says Bonthius, who ended up volunteering for her campaign and now works for her. â€œEverybody in the room, we are all the same generation, the same generation she is, and there is just this comfort level, like, you are one of us. You are going to be fighting for us.â€
Indivisible was mostly dedicated to flipping Republican seats to Democrats, or at least nudging moderate Democrats to the left. Bonthiusâ€™ district, however, was already represented by a liberal Democrat, Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent who served as the powerful head of the Queens Democratic Party and who was thought by many to be a potential speaker of the House. Crowley, whose family has deep roots in Queens, owns a home in Woodside, another Irish enclave next to Sunnyside that has likewise undergone rapid gentrification over the past several years. But by the time 2016 came along, Crowley was spending most of his time in Washington, or flying around the country to stump for Democratic candidates.
â€œI think most voters were pretty happy with him. There wasnâ€™t a specific vote or issue where we could get up in our representativeâ€™s face or have a sit-in in his office,â€ Bonthius says. â€œWe figured she didnâ€™t have a chance, but that it would at least push Crowley to the left.â€
A year later, Ocasio-Cortez pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in a generation, sending Crowley packing by a 15-point margin. The results were widely portrayed as a victory for a new and empowered Democratic grass-roots constituency.
New York’s 14th Congressional District is more than 70 percent people of color, and 50 percent Hispanic. Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican mother, fit the districtâ€™s changing demographics, and neatly fit a larger narrative of a national Democratic Party in which increasing progressivism and diversity go hand and hand.
But a closer examination of the data tells a different story. Ocasio-Cortezâ€™s best precincts were places like the neighborhood where Bonthius and his friends live: highly educated, whiter and richer than the district as a whole. In those neighborhoods, Ocasio-Cortez clobbered Crowley by 70 percent or more. Crowleyâ€™s best precincts, meanwhile, were the working-class African-American enclave of LeFrak City, where he got more than 60 percent of the vote, and portions of heavily Hispanic Corona. He pulled some of his best numbers in Ocasio-Cortezâ€™s heavily Latino and African-American neighborhood of Parkchester, in the Bronxâ€”beating her by more than 25 points on her home turf.
Earlier this year, in a New York district with a growing non-white population, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a then-28-year-old bartender and former Bernie Sanders organizer, dethroned Rep. Joseph Crowley, the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House, by running up huge numbers in white, gentrifying neighborhoods. Crowley might have been the head of the Queens Democratic Party, but his foot soldiers didnâ€™t turn out the votes to match Ocasio-Cortezâ€™s of-the-moment progressive energy. …
Ocasio-Cortez, the young Latina who proudly identifies as a democratic socialist, hadnâ€™t been all but vaulted into Congress by the partyâ€™s diversity, or a blue-collar base looking to even the playing field. She won because she had galvanized the college-educated gentrifiers who are displacing those people. â€œIt was the Bernie Bros,â€ one top Crowley adviser said as he surveyed the wreckage the day after the election. â€œThey killed us.â€
HT: David Wagner.