Rep. Ilhan Omar appears to have underperformed President-elect Joe Biden more than any other House Democrat, raising questions about whether moderates are more electable than progressives.
The Cook Politico Report’s Dave Wasserman flagged the trend on Twitter, noting that Biden won Minnesota’s 5th District 80-18 while Omar only carried the district 64-26.
“I'm not aware of anywhere near this severe an underperformance for any other House *candidate* in the county, let alone an incumbent,” he wrote.
Business Insider reported that there were other factors in Omar’s performance, including a third-party candidate and an unusually well-funded Republican challenger in a race she was the overwhelming favorite to win anyway.
A pro-marijuana candidate in Omar’s race drew 10% of the vote.
Democrats split on election issues:
The data comes as Democrats wrestle with their underperformance in downballot races in the election. Establishment Democrats like House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has criticized calls to defund the police and argued that such calls hurt Democrats in elections.
Omar has rejected the argument.
“In Minnesota, Black Lives Matter was on the ballot, George Floyd was on the ballot, and racial justice was on the ballot,” Omar spokesman Jeremy Slevin told The Wall Street Journal. “As a result we saw record turnout, a swing toward Democrats and gains in the suburbs. The lesson here is that we should not shy away from talking about these issues.”
Omar’s underperformance appears in line with other downballot Democrats in Minnesota.
Blois Olson, a Minnesota political strategist, told Business Insider that Omar underperformed in the Edina suburb of Minneapolis, a longtime Republican district that had flipped blue in the last decade.
"One of the takeaways is, Democrats can't go that far or they will begin to lose the suburbs quickly," he said. "She's a bridge too far for upper middle class suburban voters."
Slevin argued that Biden’s big lead was the result of on-the-ground work Omar’s campaign did for him.
"We didn't campaign for ourselves after the primary," he told Business Insider. "Biden vastly overperformed Clinton in 2016 and we're proud of that. That's what our goal was. Our goal wasn't to pad our numbers."