“They need to wake up and pay attention to what people actually want,” Ms. Conner said of Democratic leaders. “There are so many progressive policies that have widespread support that mainstream Democrats are not picking up on, or putting that stuff down and saying, ‘That wouldn’t really work.’
Voters like Ms. Conner may not represent a controlling faction in the Democratic Party, at least not yet. But they are increasingly rattling primary elections around the country, and they promise to grow as a disruptive force in national elections as younger voters reject the traditional boundary lines of Democratic politics.
Energized to take on President Trump, these voters are also seeking to remake their own party as a ferocious — and ferociously liberal — opposition force. And many appear as focused on forcing progressive policies into the midterm debate as they are on defeating Republicans.
The impact of these activists in the 2018 election has been limited but revealing: Only about a sixth of Democratic congressional nominees so far have a formal affiliation with one of several important insurgent groups. Fifty-three of the 305 candidates have been endorsed by the Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, the Progressive Change Campaign and Our Revolution, organizations that have helped propel challenges to Democratic incumbents.
But the voters who make up the ascending coalition on the left have had an outsize effect on the national political conversation, driving the Democrats’ internal policy debates and putting pressure on party leaders unseen in previous campaigns.
Progressive activists have already upended one major election in Michigan, derailing a former federal prosecutor, Pat Miles, who was running for attorney general with the support of organized labor, by endorsing another lawyer, Dana Nessel, who litigated against Michigan’s gay marriage ban, at a party convention.
In more solidly Democratic parts of the country, younger progressives have battered entrenched political leaders, ousting veteran state legislators in Pennsylvania and Maryland and rejecting, in upstate New York, a congressional candidate recruited by the national party.
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