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'Socialism Surging in Iowa' Giving Cold Feet to Centrist Democrats Contemplating 2020 Run: Report

"Ten years ago — hell, two — I never would have believed I’d be reading this. Please let’s not squander this once in a lifetime opportunity."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to guests during an organizing event at the Orpheum Theater on January 5, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. Warren announced on December 31 that she was forming an exploratory committee for the 2020 presidential race. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Amid warnings within progressive circles that the "moderate Democrat" remains a serious obstacle to the kind of transformative change many rank-and-file party members and voters in general say they want, new reporting by Axios on Saturday shows that it might be the centrists who are getting cold feet as they register just how hungry the electorate has become for policy solutions like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, tuition-free higher education, and taxation that targets the nation's wealthiest.

Citing informed sources, Axios reports that both "Michael Bloomberg and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, each of whom were virtual locks to run, are having serious second thoughts after watching Democrats embrace "Medicare for All," big tax increases and the Green New Deal. Joe Biden, who still wants to run, is being advised to delay any plans to see how this lurch to the left plays out. If Biden runs, look for Bloomberg and McAuliffe to bow out."

In addition, internal polling taken by what Axios describes as one "prominent 2020 hopeful" discovered Democratic voters in Iowa, one of the key early caucus states in the presidential primaries, "has moved sharply left."

Offering a specific example, the polling reportedly "found that 'socialism' had a net positive rating, while 'capitalism' had a net negative rating."

Actor and activist Rob Delaney responded to the report by telling Democrats to "take heed":

Documentary filmmaker and author Astra Taylor said: "Ten years ago — hell, two — I never would have believed I’d be reading this. Please let's not squander this once in a lifetime opportunity."

Others pointed out that the leftward lurch among U.S. voters is a phenomenon not isolated to Iowa:

Writing for The Nation in late 2017, Nicolás Medina Mora and Rebecca Zweig reported on a revival of socialist politics in Iowa which organizers pinpointed as a response to a Republican Party that has proved it does not care about the concerns of working class people and a Democratic Party that has tried to play both sides of the fence with an ineffective "centrism" that also has done little to convince Iowans it takes seriously their needs.

"Centrist politics aren't going to get us out of this mess," Cathy Glasson, a labor organizer who was running in the Democratic primary that year, explained to Mora and Zweig. "Iowans are working hard and not feeling it in their pocketbook. They aren't just Democrats, they're Republicans too. We have career politicians in Des Moines who try to fix issues with half measures, and it's not working."

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