I’ve written about my skepticism about  media herd reporting that Democratic primaries — including for 2nd District Congress in Arkansas –– were somehow battles for the “soul of the Democratic Party” between Bernie Bros. and similar idealists and calcified party establishment types.

I couldn’t see 37-year-old Clarke Tucker, with decidedly progressive credentials, lumped into the stodgy status quo category. Voters didn’t think so, giving him a resounding win over three attractive,progressive opponents to run against Republican Rep. French Hill. Talk about status quo: Hill and his familiar billionaire backers and angry Tom Cotton are already pouring jillions into that age-old Republican attack line that Tucker is a tool of Nancy Pelosi, whose leadership he’s specifically rejected. (Rational people should at least respect her for her skills, which is probably why old Fox viewers fear her so.)


That’s a long intro to this good column today by David Leonhardt: I and some others on Twitter think he’s hit the nail squarely about supposed party divisions.

Leonhardt illustrates with Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, and Conor Lamb, recent winner of a Pennsylvania congressional seat. Old school identity politics candidate vs. new age moderate Democrat?


But when you spend a little time listening to both Abrams and Lamb, you notice something that doesn’t fit the storyline: They sound a lot alike.

They emphasize the same issues, and talk about them in similar ways. They don’t come across as avatars of some Bernie-vs.-Hillary battle for the party’s soul. They come across as ideological soul mates, both upbeat populists who focus on health care, education, upward mobility and the dignity of work.

… The lesson here isn’t just about these two candidates. Dozens of other Democratic candidates also sound like Abrams and Lamb. The lesson is that Democrats are more united than many people realize — and are running a pretty smart midterm campaign.

Yes, there are some tensions on the political left. But these tensions — over Obama-style incrementalism vs. Bernie-style purism, over the wisdom of talking about impeachment, over whether to woo or write off the white working class — are most intense among people who write and tweet about politics. Among Democrats running for office, the tensions are somewhere between mild and nonexistent.

Democratic candidates aren’t obsessed with President Trump, and they aren’t giving up on the white working class as irredeemably racist. They are running pocketbook campaigns that blast Republicans for trying to take health insurance from the middle class while bestowing tax cuts on the rich (charges that have the benefit of being true).

What he said applies to Clarke Tucker in spades. Will it work? It won’t be easy against rich incumbents in red-leaning locales such as Central Arkansas.

We’ll know for sure in November. But Democrats are better off fighting the opposition party than themselves. You do wonder if  Russian-style social media work by Republicans hasn’t pushed the divided-Democratic-Party theme more than Democrats themselves. It certainly worked on the pundit class.