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How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won
June 30, 2018
by William P. Meyers

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It probably was not a big leftist victory

Progressive Democrats and political people in general have made much of the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young Bernie Sanders supporter, over the incumbent Joseph Crowley in the 14th Congressional District of New York Democratic Party primary.

I congratulate Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, but just a tiny bit of research prevents me from sharing the common enthusiasm that this election represents real political change.

First, only about 28,000 people voted in the primary. The district has 214,570 registered Democrats. Looks like a victory for Apathy. If that is the case, it bodes ill for the country this fall.

Second, since the two candidates, the incumbent and upstart, did not seem to vary much on the actual issues, it is hard to call it a progressive victory. Certainly a victory for young women.

Probably the real explanation is identity politics. The sad old story of tribalism and ethnic voting in the United States.

The 14th Congressional district, according to Wikipedia, has the following ethnic breakdown:

18.4% white non-hispanic
49.8% hispanic
11.4% black
16.4% asian
4.1% other

Of course, it is hard to know why each individual votes for a particular candidate. But since half the voters are women, and half are hispanic, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a hispanic woman, I believe this was a victory for ethnic voting. I believe (but can't know) that if Ocasio-Cortez had been a bit to the right of Mr. Crowley, and had run just as lively of a campaign, she would have won just as handily.

I'll bet a lot of local politicians are wishing they had run against Joe Crowley.

Welcome to the House of Representatives, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. Presuming you win the main election in your heavily Democratic district.

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