Jun 27, 2018

The big picture: What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's win means

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at her victory party. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

Rep. Joe Crowley hadn't faced a primary challenger in 14 years until 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came along. Timing is everything, and 2018 couldn't have been a better year for her to run.

The big picture: Her victory wasn't just an isolated incident. It reflects the Democratic Party's fight for their identity under President Trump.

Why it matters: For the first time in more than a decade these voters had a chance to elect a representative who actually looks like them. “Why is it that the congressman can proudly discuss his Irish heritage on the campaign trail, but I am somehow barred from mentioning my Puerto Rican family?” she told The Intercept.

By the numbers:

  • 61% of residents in New York's 14th district, which includes the Bronx and Queens, are minorities, including nearly 50% Hispanic or Latino. 45% are millennials.
  • 75% of Americans say immigration is a good thing for the country — the highest share of people who think that since 2001. And 51% of voters blame President Trump and the GOP for the state of immigration in the U.S.
    • One of her campaign planks was to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • For the first time ever, Americans are evenly split on whether they would like a health insurance system paid for by the government or through private companies, per Gallup.
  • 62% of Americans have a positive reaction to a "Medicare-for-All" campaign slogan, which Ocasio-Cortez supported, but that's a policy position that establishment Democrats shy away from.
  • 54 of the 293 women who are running for House or Senate in 2018 are challenging incumbents in their own parties, per the Center for American Women and Politics. That includes 34 Democratic women.
  • Crowley spent $1.02 million to Ocasio-Cortez's $127,000 between April and June in the Democratic primary, per CBS. The national party campaign arms will have to recognize that money might not be everything.
  • From Stacey Abrams in Georgia to Jared Polis in Colorado to the diverse candidates who took over Virginia's state legislature in 2017, Ocasio-Cortez is certainly not the last insurgent newcomer to shake up the Democratic Party.

Be smart: Democrats need to figure out how to meld the two factions of the party — progressives who are ready to fight Trump at every step and "establishment" Dems — into a cohesive, winning coalition.

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