"The gulf between the discussion on twitter and campaign events is a mile wide"
Here are some well-informed observations about actual, real live Democratic voters in February 2019. It's from Dave Weigel who is following the candidates all over the place:
For the past six weeks, The Trailer has been on the scene for the first campaign appearances by every newly declared Democratic presidential candidate. They ranged from Pete Buttigieg's news conference in Washington, to Julián Castro's tour of Puerto Rico recovery sites, to the aforementioned Kamala Harris trip to a boutique on Lady Street.
If any theme has emerged, it's that the Democratic electorate showing up to meet its candidates is far less ideological and skeptical than the one that lives on social media. Some days, the gulf between the discussion on Twitter and the discussion at campaign events is a mile wide.
For example: The first question asked of any Democratic presidential candidate this year was the one Elizabeth Warren got at her maiden voyage to Council Bluffs, Iowa: "What is it that you think the Democratic Party needs in this journey toward 2020, and what you are bringing to it?"
The most recent question that The Trailer was on the ground for, in Columbia, was about Democrats' most ambitious spending plans. "I believe you said you support Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal," asked Ron Anderson, 50, at the end of Harris's town hall. "Simultaneously, we have a $22 trillion national debt and a $1.2 trillion dollar deficit. How do you square that circle?"
Warren has received just two questions from voters about the controversy around her past claim of Native American heritage. Gillibrand has received just one about her role in encouraging Al Franken to resign from the Senate. Harris has received no questions about her criminal justice record; Booker has received none about his vote against (nonbinding) legislative language to crack down on the pharmaceutical industry. No candidate has gotten a question about the details of the now two-year-old Russia collusion probe, though some have gotten questions about whether Trump may be too scandalized to remain in office.
What can change after the first seven weeks of a primary? Everything. No one has criticized a rival Democrat by name, relatively few have mentioned the president, and there have been more skeptical questions about whether they can really pay for a big "progressive" agenda than whether they pass the litmus test of progressive groups. All of this really should be factored in when there's speculation about how issues are playing on the trail; so far, the candidates are not being whipsawed by events like the media is.
I find that reassuring. People have open minds, are asking questions and don't seem to fighting the last war. While we are all sniping on twitter and Facebook, this campaign will unfold in its own time.