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Both parties trying even harder to defeat themselves

Michael Barone on

Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Doug Jones, with a respectable resume as federal prosecutor, is singing out of the national Democrats' increasingly left-wing hymnal, favoring third-trimester abortions (unpopular not just in Alabama but nationally). Moore's weaknesses will surely get Jones above Hillary Clinton's 34 percent in the state, but Moore could lose a lot of Trump's 62 percent and still win.

Jones' course, like Flake's statement that there's no way forward for him among Republicans, may reflect a calculation that his party's base has changed. Democratic political scientists used to argue that polarization was caused entirely by Republican voters' and officeholders' move to the right.

But polling released by the Pew Research Center this month shows that the growth of the interparty gap since 2011 has been caused almost entirely by Democratic voters and officeholders moving to the left.

Sixteen Democratic senators now back Bernie Sanders' plan for government-run single-payer health care. Support from Democratic voters, Pew says, has increased from 33 percent in 2014 to 52 percent this year.

The percentage of Democrats believing that immigration "strengthens the country" has increased from 48 percent in 2010 to 84 percent this year. In line with this, congressional Democrats are resisting Trump's demands for E-Verify for job applicants and greater visa controls in the United States.

And they're listening to spokesmen for "dreamers" -- immigrants who were brought here illegally as children -- when they insist that not only they but also their parents be given legal status.

The case for giving dreamers legal status is popular and has been embraced even by Trump. But the argument for giving legal status to the parents who acted illegally is difficult to defend without arguing for totally open borders -- a case increasingly attractive to Democratic voters explicitly and to Democratic officeholders inferentially.

The only thing preventing both parties from defeating themselves is the fact that elections are a zero-sum game in which one side must win.

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Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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