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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

Chapter 2 - What We Know About Identity, Ideology, and Electability, and What We Don’t


The first debate of the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination cycle occurred in June of 2019. It was spread across two nights to accommodate 20 candidates in the largest and most diverse presidential candidate field in American history. The last debate was held in March of 2020 in a CNN studio with no audience, consisting of two white men in their late 70s standing several yards apart to avoid virus transmission. Understanding how the former yielded to the latter requires getting a handle on a number of key topics. I’ll review some of those topics and explain just how they’re relevant to current American political parties. I describe them in the context of answering a key question: What is the Democratic Party? What are its constituent parts, and what motivates them? How do we distinguish it from the Republican Party, or even from the Democratic Party of the past? And what role do narratives play in guiding its behavior?

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