Relevant to one of my posts of yesterday, in a Washington Post op-ed John Sides and Lynn Vavreck of the Nationscape project, purportedly contracting the prevailing wisdom, end up confirming it:
To many observers, the Democratic presidential primary has highlighted the “profound ideological divides between the Democratic Party’s moderate and progressive wings,” as an Associated Press article put it — two wings locked in a bitter fight for control. The division supposedly shapes the race in profound ways. The New York Times has written that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg “are running in different ideological lanes,” for instance, and suggested that if voters sour on former vice president Joe Biden, they would mostly turn to Buttigieg, a fellow moderate.
Perhaps that’s how Democratic leaders and activists see the primary. But there’s just one problem: Someone forgot to tell Democratic voters.
However, when a plurality of Sanders supporters favor Warren as their second choice and a plurality of Warren supporters favor Sanders as their second choice, it’s a stretch to claim that ideology plays no or little role in their choices. What might be a more accurate representation is that ideology isn’t the only factor.
What else plays a role? As it turns out publicity:
In general, voters appear to be focused not on “lanes” but on the candidates who are getting news coverage and who thus appear viable contenders for the nomination. So when asked their second choice, supporters of each front-runner — Biden, Warren or Sanders — default to other front-runners, ideology aside.
Ideology aside except that Sanders supporters prefer the highly publicized candidate whose positions most closely comport with Sanders’s and Warren supporters prefer the highly publicized candidate whose positions most closely comport with Warren’s.
But what seems to be the case is that the media are shaping people’s preferences not merely reporting them.