I've been writing a fair amount recently about why Democratic leaders often take liberal voters for granted and instead spend a lot of their energy trying to appease the conservative wing of the party. It's not really my job to say what the party should do, but I'm trying to use our numbers to get a greater understanding of why they do what they do.
Our national Congressional poll today is a good prism into that.
88% of liberal Democrats say that Congressional Democrats are doing a good job. They say they'll vote Democratic next year 91-9.
74% of moderate Democrats say that Congressional Democrats are doing a good job. They say they'll vote Democratic next year 84-9.
Then there are the conservative Democrats. Only 38% of them say that Congressional Democrats are doing a good job. And they only say they'll vote Democratic next year 59-20.
So 80% of Democrats are liberals or moderates and they tend to pretty much be in agreement on issues like the public option, but they're also the most reliably Democratic voters. That quite often causes a lot of officials to spend their energy appeasing that remaining 20% who are a threat to stray, even if it means working against what a significant majority of Democrats overall want. Absent primary challenges there isn't a whole lot frustrated progressives can do about that at the polls in a two party system- the alternative is worse. Persuading party leaders in Congress to do the right thing is the only, but often ineffectual, way to get things done.
It's a lot easier for Republicans to stay on the same page due to the lack of ideological diversity in the party. There was one liberal Republican in this survey (she doesn't like either Congressional Democrats or Republicans, but says she's voting GOP next year.) 73% are conservatives, and they're pretty content for the party to be against everything and keep on voting for them- 92% support for the party on the generic ballot.