Carolyn Kaster / AP

In the U.S., November’s midterm elections have increasingly high stakes. The Democratic Party, now fully in the backseat in all three branches of the government, faces its last shot to win back at least one chamber of Congress in the first term of the Trump administration. Within the party, the elections present a strategic challenge, particularly in swing districts: Should Democrats focus on galvanizing progressive voters, or should they amplify their appeal to moderates? Their decisions—and the consequences—could have a major effect on American politics.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the upstart leftist who won against an incumbent Democrat in the primary election in New York’s 14th congressional district, was a signal to the party’s progressives that they could beat the establishment against long odds. In other races, however, establishment candidates have demonstrated the power of centrist appeals.

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