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Democratic group leaked a poll unfavorable to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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An anonymous Democratic group leaked an internal poll to Axios on Sunday that shows white, non-college educated “swing voters” deeply dislike prominent progressive lawmakers, exacerbating a public rift within the Democratic party.

The poll found that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a 22% approval rating and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota had a 9% approval rating among 1,003 “likely general-election voters who are white and have two years or less of college education” who knew of the two outspoken lawmakers. A whopping 74% of these voters had heard of Ocasio-Cortez, while 53% had heard of Omar.

“If all voters hear about is AOC, it could put the [House] majority at risk,” a Democrat involved in 2020 congressional races told Axios. “[S]he’s getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races.”

The survey looked at a slice of the voting public that is disinclined to approve of the left. Some progressive pollsters and others argued that the poll results were taken out of context, and pointed to other polls that show more moderate Democrats like Joe Biden who also have relatively low approval ratings among white, non-college educated voters as well.

The May survey was shared with Axios “on the condition that it not be named, because the group has to work with all parts of the party,” the site wrote. The partisan poll’s methodology and the questions it asked were not made public, provoking criticism from some progressive pollsters and others. Axios wrote that many of the surveyed voters supported Trump in 2016 and live in purple districts.

Some progressives argued that the Democratic group’s move marked the latest attack on the left wing of the party.

“It’s infuriating and truly bizarre that Democratic leaders and consultants released anti-AOC and anti-Ilhan polls to the press **under the condition of anonymity** this morning,” Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, tweeted on Sunday.

Read more: An increasingly public, racially-charged rift in the Democratic party is widening after attacks are lobbed between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s camp and the Democratic establishment

President Donald Trump appeared to refer to the poll in a Monday tweet in which he argued that the congresswomen were “very unpopular & unrepresentative.”

The survey also found low approval numbers for socialism — 18% — and majority approval — 56% — for capitalism. Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described democratic socialist and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

It was conducted in May, before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and four progressives, including Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, exchanged a series of public attacks.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

A widening rift on the left

After disagreements between party leadership and the freshmen lawmakers over policy issues, including climate change and funding for the country’s immigration system, Pelosi has lobbed increasingly pointed attacks on the most progressive members of her caucus.

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi told The New York Times recently, referring to Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Ocasio-Cortez responded by accusing Pelosi of “singling out” four women of color — a move she called “outright disrespectful.” The New York lawmaker later walked back her comments, saying Pelosi was “absolutely not” a racist.

Late last week, a senior Democratic aide called Justice Democrats — the group that backed Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 primary — “trust fund kids who are funding this with their parents’ money.”

And members of the Congressional Black Caucus took aim at Ocasio-Cortez and Justice Democrats, which is supporting other primary challenges, including against CBC members, in blue districts in 2020.

The so-called “squad” has largely been defiant in its response to Pelosi and other establishment Democrats critical of their approach.

“We never need to ask for permission or wait for an invitation to lead,” Omar said during an appearance at a progressive conference in Philadelphia on Saturday. She added later, “There’s a constant struggle with people who have power about sharing that power … And we are not really in the business of asking to share that power — we are in the business of grabbing that power to return it to the people.”

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