Comparing the Performance of Mainstream v. Far-Left Democrats in the House
Far-left groups like Sanders-style Our Revolution and AOC’s Justice Dems constantly argue that the leftier the candidate, the better chance of winning, saying their candidates will energize base voters and deliver victory. But for the third cycle in a row, the election results from this midterm tell a wildly different story. We conducted case studies analyzing districts with comparable partisan leans and demographically similar makeups to discern how Democratic congressional candidates endorsed by the center-left NewDem Action Fund performed in the 2022 midterm elections versus those endorsed by far-left organizations like Our Revolution and the Justice Dems. The results are clear: mainstream Democrats consistently outperform far-left candidates in the races that determine who holds power in Congress.
OR-05 vs OH-01 – Toss-Up Districts
NewDem candidate Greg Landsman pulled out a victory in a competitive swing district, joining six fellow endorsees to flip districts from red to blue this cycle. In a nearly ideologically identical seat, Our Revolution candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner ousted an incumbent Democrat in the primary and then proceeded to hand the seat to Republicans. Although the district had voted for Biden by nine points, this far-left candidate flipped it blue to red and added to a new Republican House majority.
OR-06 vs IL-13 – Lean Dem Districts
Even in bluer districts, mainstream Democrats outperformed the far left. In Illinois, NewDem candidate Nikki Budzinski outpaced Biden’s 2020 results and won by a whopping 12 points, while Our Revolution candidate Andrea Salinas, underperformed Biden in an even slightly bluer district, eking out a win by 2 points.
PA-12 vs OH-13 – Lean D/Toss-Up Districts
Mainstream Democrats outperformed the far left in demographically similar districts, even when the partisan lean looked more favorable to the far left. In Ohio, NewDem candidate Emilia Sykes outperformed Biden’s 2020 results and swung a very competitive toss-up district left by 2 points, while Our Revolution candidate Summer Lee managed to swing a much more favorable Biden+17.5 district nearly 5 points right.
Across each of the toss up and lean Democrat case studies, moderate NewDem candidates outperformed their far-left counterparts who ran in similar districts. In total, NewDems flipped seven seats from red to blue, picked up two critical wins in new seats, and helped elect 18 new members to Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. The NewDem Action Fund has now flipped 42 seats from red to blue since 2018, while Our Revolution and Justice Democrats have not managed to flip a single Republican-held seat over the last three cycles.