Analysts Differ On Donnelly’s Push For Centrism

Political watchers disagree about whether Joe Donnelly’s push to rally moderates to get work done in Washington during the 113th Congress will be effective.

Joe Donnelly

Photo: Donnelly Campaign

It will take a change in congressional mindsets for Joe Donnelly's push for more moderate political debate to succeed.

Prevailing wisdom dictates that because of the way many congressional districts are drawn, congresspeople today are more fearful of primary election challenges from within their own party than of general elections against the opposite party.  As such, they run campaigns which are increasingly extreme.  So for Joe Donnelly to suggest a return to the center seems to run against the political current…

“I think moderates are always tilting at windmills.”

That’s Indiana University political science professor Marjorie Hershey, who says she doesn’t think Donnelly’s push is likely to generate much traction, even if it’s laudable…

“We seem to admire intense views, even if they don’t make an awful lot of sense.  Given that, it’s hard to be an intense moderate.”

But Ed Feigenbaum, the editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, has higher hopes for Donnelly’s success because he sees a 10 percent approval rating beginning to weigh on members of Congress and make them think about carrying more than the wings of each party…

“You’re going to see less of that kind of activity and the folks in the center will become a little bit more important to the whole process.”

Feigenbaum believes Donnelly and Maine Senator Angus King, an independent, could become important swing votes both sides of the aisle will court in the coming days.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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