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During the 2020 elections, progressives often insisted that by maintaining critical support for Joe Biden and promoting his administration as open to their politics, they would be able to win “a seat at the table” with him and ultimately “push him to the left.” Often, it is very hard to actually judge whether they actually make good on this plan, since assessments of “progressive” are completely subjective.
This time around, however, Data for Progress gave us a very clear way to evaluate this strategy: appointments. Earlier this year, DfP published their Progressive Cabinet Project, which proposed well over a hundred potential nominees to various positions in Joe Biden’s cabinet.
Moving forward, I’ll be tracking how many of these suggestions actually get adopted by Biden. You can find a detailed breakdown here. (Note that I am tracking their original cabinet shortlist, not the edited versions they began posting in December; see the updates below and this post for details.)
NOTES (FINAL update: 1/21/2021)
UPDATE (12/22/2020) - Another bizarre development in Data for Progress’s late additions to the list: they appear to have added Janet Yellen and Xavier Becerra after Biden nominated them. I’ve laid out the details here.
Also: Politico reports that Joe Biden will appoint Bruce Reed as his deputy chief of staff. This marks a major blow to Data for Progress and other progressive groups who, we noted previously, had campaigned against him getting any appointment whatsoever.
UPDATE (12/14/2020) - Check out my appearance on Bad Faith, where I talk about this project.
UPDATE (12/11/2020) - Check out our mention today in The New Republic.
UPDATE (12/9/2020) - Today Joe Biden nominated Katherine Tai for Trade Representative. Like Marcia Fudge, Tai is a nominee who appears on Data for Progress’s current list of recommendations, but who did NOT appear in earlier iterations. And following the Fudge precedent we will not be scoring this as a win. I will write a separate post about this recurring issue shortly.
UPDATE (12/8/2020) - Today Joe Biden nominated Marcia Fudge, who is on Data for Progress’s current list of recommendations. However, further investigation by one of our faithful readers has found that Data for Progress updated their list within the past 48 hours to add Fudge in. Here’s the previous list, and here’s the change:
Note that while the old document was dated, Data for Progress has removed the date from the new one:
I will be scoring Data for Progress based on the original list.
UPDATE (11/23/2020) - Data for Progress has joined a few other groups in launching a petition against appointing Bruce Reed as the head of the Office of Management and Budget. While they are likely to spin this as a victory if Biden declines to do so, this would be a goalpost shift from the proposals floated in the Progressive Cabinet Project. Accordingly, I will only score this as a win if Biden picks one of those names, though I’ll note here the outcome of the Reed fight either way.
UPDATE (11/29/2020) - The Wall Street Journal reports that Biden plans to nominate Neera Tanden rather than Bruce Reed to OMB.