(CNN)James Carville sees himself as the Cassandra of the modern Democratic Party — a man who can prophesy the future but who is doomed to never be believed.
Carville, whose claim to fame is electing — and reelecting — Bill Clinton as president in the 1990s, has been telling anyone who asks that his party’s current focus on, for lack of a better word, “wokeness” is a major problem as they seek to hold their majorities in the House and Senate next November.In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night, Carville explained his view:”We’re letting a noisy wing of our party define the rest of us. And my point is we can’t do that.”I think these people are all kind of nice people. I think they’re very naive, and they’re all into language and identity. And that’s all right. They’re not storming the Capitol. But they’re not winning elections.”Read MoreCarville’s case, in short, is that the broad mainstream of the Democratic Party is letting the “noisy” liberals dominate what the average American — particularly those who identify as swing voters — thinks the party stands for. Calls to defund the police, pass the “Green New Deal” or end the detention of people coming across the US’s southern border illegally are, in Carville’s mind, simply not majority positions in the country. Pushing them — loudly — is, therefore, a major mistake.
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There’s a decent amount of polling data to back up Carville’s contentions about his party.In NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll conducted shortly after the 2018 midterm elections, a clear majority of people (52%) said they were “against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore.” Just 36% said that they were “in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others.”A May 2021 Pew poll showed that 57% of Americans believe that “people today are too easily offended by what others say” while just 40% agreed that “people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others.”And even on specific issues, there’s some sentiment that people believe the so-called “woke mob” has gone too far. In an Axios-Ipsos poll from May, 70% of Americans opposed “the ‘defund the police’ movement” while just 27% supported it. A May Fox News poll showed that 47% of registered voters said the Biden administration is proposing too much of an increase in government spending, while 17% said not enough, and 33% chose just about the right amount.And there’s no question that Republicans see the focus on “wokeness” as a major opening for them in 2022. “Americans do not support the woke left,” former President Donald Trump said in a speech last weekend to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. “The people are with us. You have no idea how much.”The big question for Democratic strategists — and politicians seeking to either win election or reelection in swing and Republican leaning areas — is how to navigate the woke army that comprises a decent-sized chunk of the party base. Elections aren’t won if your base walks away from you. On the other hand, embracing policies to appease that base — particularly on crime — almost certainly jeopardize a candidate’s chances of appealing to the critical center in a general election.Carville, for his part, knows where he thinks Democratic candidates should land on that question.”I think people sort of see this for what it is, and people way more interested in their lives, and how to improve them, than they are in somebody else’s pronoun or something,” he told Cuomo.