But moderate party leaders on Capitol Hill and in the White House are greeting the results from the off-year elections with undisguised glee, viewing them as a long-awaited reality check on the progressive wing’s claims to ascendancy. Mr. Biden’s advisers have regarded the off-year results as a validation of his success in 2020 — further proof, they believe, that the Democratic Party is defined by his diverse, middle-of-the-road supporters.
Top lawmakers have also grown more willing to wade into contested races after the Democrats’ unexpected losses in the House in 2020, which many of them blamed on a proliferation of hard-left rhetoric around policing and socialism.
Earlier this year, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, rallied behind a centrist Democrat, Troy Carter, in a special election for Congress in Louisiana, helping him defeat a more liberal candidate. Both endorsed Ms. Brown and campaigned for her in Ohio, with Mr. Clyburn accusing the far left of intemperate sloganeering that “cuts the party’s throat.”
The Democratic primary for mayor of New York City, too, yielded a moderate winner this summer: The Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams, who campaigned on an anti-crime message, rolled up endorsements from organized labor and won immense support from working-class voters of color. Visiting the White House, Mr. Adams branded himself “the Biden of Brooklyn.”
In Virginia, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the trend in Democratic politics this year was unmistakable. A former aide to former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Mr. Stoney endorsed his old boss’s comeback bid earlier this year, backing him over several candidates running to the left. Mr. McAuliffe, a white centrist who used to chair the Democratic National Committee, won the primary in a landslide, carrying every city and county in the state.
“When you look at Ohio, New York City and Virginia — voters, and particularly Democratic voters, are looking for effective problem solvers,” Mr. Stoney said. “I know Democrats want to win, but more than anything they want to elect people who are going to get things done.”