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Democrats have been very busy lately trying to tell the public that theirs is not an extremist socialist party. But the public sees through the smoke screen. Just a third now see the Democratic Party as mainstream.

This month, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked if the public believed that Democratic candidates for Congress were "in the mainstream," or "out of step."

Just 33% said they felt Democrats were mainstream, while 56% said they were out of step. That's a dramatic turnaround from just two years ago, when 48% said Democrats were mainstream and only 42% said they were out of step.

To be sure, the public is equally split on Republicans: 33% say they're mainstream, and 57% say they're out of step. But while Democrats have lost significant ground, Republicans are gaining — which is remarkable given the nearly 100% negative coverage the party gets.

The public, it seems, is finally picking up on something that we've been documenting in this space for years. That it is Democrats — not Republicans — who have been drifting to the political edge.

We took a close look at IBD/TIPP poll results back in 2013 and found that on issue after issue Democrats were out of touch with mainstream America.

For example, our poll showed that 61% of the public — including 68% of independents — wanted a smaller government with fewer services. But 59% of Democrats wanted a bigger government and more services.

Nearly two thirds of Democrats said they supported a government-run health care system, compared with only 28% of independents and 8% of Republicans.

We reported on a Gallup poll in 2015 showing that Democrats had become far more liberal over the previous 15 years, while Republicans hadn't changed in their views much (and had moved leftward on some social issues).

Last year we looked at data from the Pew Research Center and found that the "center" of the Democratic Party had moved dramatically to left between 1994 and 2017. The center of the Republican Party had barely changed.

Yet, all along Democrats and their handmaidens in the press declared that Republicans were the ones who are ever-more extreme.

But with the increasingly harsh and often violent rhetoric coming from Democrats since President Trump won the election, and the coronation of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the veil has been lifted.

In fact, Democratic leaders are now on the defensive, claiming that despite all appearances to the contrary, their party isn't extremist, much less socialist.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after being asked if socialism was ascendant in the party, said "I don't accept any characterization of our party presented by the Republicans. So let me reject that right now."

Both Rep. Maxine Waters and Sen. Elizabeth Warren got pressed on the issue this week by CNBC's John Harwood, and both denied the "S" label.

"The Democratic Party is not a socialist party," Waters said. But then she followed that up by saying of socialist Bernie Sanders, "I consider him basically a Democrat."

Far-left Sen. Warren felt the need to make it clear that "I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets."

For now, Democrats don't want to admit what their party has turned into, because the "socialist" brand isn't very popular.

But look at what it now stands for.

The Democratic base went head over heels for socialist Bernie Sanders in 2016, to the point where he nearly stole the nomination from Hillary Clinton — who said she struggled with her own party because they thought of her as a "capitalist."

Democrats have by and large embraced a "Medicare for all" health plan that would outlaw private insurance and is to the left of every other health system in the world, except maybe Cuba.

Many of the 2020 presidential hopefuls are on board with "government-guaranteed jobs," an idea last seen in the Soviet Union's constitution.

And, as if that weren't enough, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez called socialist Ocasio-Cortez "the future of our party."

We don't doubt that many Democrats are sincere in their belief that they are sensible centrists. And there's no doubt that some still are.

But when you live in an increasingly left-wing bubble, extremism can easily start to look mainstream. And that's precisely what's been happening, with an increasing leftist media, an aggressively left-wing base, and most of the moderates drummed out of the party.

Now the public at large is seeing what we've been pointing out for years. And that's a good thing for everyone, including Democrats.

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