Public opinion and recent electoral results suggest American voters are ready for significant change in a leftward direction. Consequently, the Democratic nominee in 2020 is likely to offer a strongly progressive program to the electorate.
Common sense suggests, however, that there are limits to how far left this program should go. Programs that lack public support should be avoided and programs preferred that generate strong support among not just among the base Democratic constituencies like blacks and Latinos but also among white college graduates and ideally have significant purchase among white noncollege voters as well.
The latest Quinnipiac poll provides some insight along these lines. The Democratic policy ideas tested in the poll included several that did not garner majority public support, including making all public colleges free to attend (45 percent), a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on income over $10 million (36 percent) and allowing current prisoners to vote (31 percent).
But there were a couple of ideas that got strong support. One was forgiving up to $50 thousand in student debt for households making under $250 thousand a year. Overall 57 percent support included very high support from blacks and Latinos but also solid support from college and noncollege whites.
Support was even stronger for an annual wealth tax of 2 percent on those with over $50 million. Three-fifths of voters supported this with blacks, Latinos and college whites all strongly in favor and even noncollege whites favoring the proposal by 15 points.
Also worth mentioning here is the latest Kaiser poll which showed Medicare for All getting only 37 percent support if it eliminated private insurance, but Medicare for all who want it, while retaining the private insurance option, drawing lopsided support from not only blacks and Latinos but college and noncollege whites as well.
So there is left and then there is too far left. Democrats who want the best chance of beating Trump and the most robust possible political coalition would be wise to choose the former not the latter.