And it's working, according to numbers in a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll.
Asked to describe Clinton's ideology, 4 in 10 Democratic voters said she was either "very liberal" (14 percent) or "somewhat liberal" (27 percent). That's up 10 points from a June NBC-WSJ poll. Clinton's identification as moderate has consequently dipped. In June, 58 percent of Democrats said she was a moderate; today, that number is 47 percent. (The remainder — 8-9 percent — say Clinton is either very or somewhat conservative.)
That movement in Clinton's "liberal" number is a very good thing for her chances of winning a Democratic primary. Her problem — both in 2008 and at the start of this campaign — is that some element of liberals believed she is not truly one of them even while they largely liked her and thought she would do a good job as president. That lack of communion with Clinton led liberals to flock to Barack Obama in 2008 and, on a much less grand scale, to Sanders this time around.
To be clear, Clinton is never going to do enough — tonally and on policy — to make some liberals happy. But she doesn't need to. The key for Clinton is not to be great for liberals but simply good enough for them so that they don't move en masse to someone like, say, Joe Biden — who, unlike Sanders, could theoretically make a serious challenge to the former secretary of state if the circumstances were right.
Clinton's leftward lurch has been cast — including in this space — as a transparent attempt to court liberals and to snuff out Sanders's chances. Call it whatever you want. But don't say it's not working.