Republican and Democratic voters, making drastically different assumptions about the politics of the 2016 presidential race, are pulling their parties even further apart — setting the stage for a historic ideological battle in 2016.

Opening his MSNBC show shortly before the first Democratic debate, liberal Chris Hayes was ebullient.

Socialist insurgent Sen. Bernie Sanders has been rising in the polls and drawing huge crowds, and front-runner Hillary Clinton, rather than putting him on the defensive, has been eager to embrace a broad liberal policy agenda.

This has been a welcome development to Hayes, who noted that as a progressive who came of political age during the Bill Clinton era, he remembered "a time when the conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party was you needed to convince everyone that you weren't George McGovern, and you need to convince particularly white swing voters you weren't just going to hand out welfare to the other people that don't look like you. You're going to be tough on crime, you're going to fight wars, you're going to fly back to Arkansas to watch a man executed."

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