What does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's primary upset mean for Democrats?

WASHINGTON -- The national spotlight is on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after her surprising upset in the 2018 primary for New York's 14th congressional district.

Some of the shock may have worn off on Wednesday, but 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, like the rest of her party, was still trying to make sense of her come-from-nowhere win. She knocked off the fourth-highest ranking House Democrat, 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley, who had been considered an heir apparent to leader Nancy Pelosi.

Crowley may have underestimated his opponent, who until recently was working as a bartender and organizing for Bernie Sanders.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Upsets  Rep. Joseph Crowley In NY Primary
Progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrates with supporters at a victory party in the Bronx after upsetting incumbent Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley on June 26, 2018 in New York's 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. Scott Heins / Getty Images

"I wasn't born to a wealthy or powerful family," she says in a campaign video that went viral during the campaign.

Like Sanders, she considers herself a democratic socialist.

"The GOP tax cut could have paid for two years of public college for everyone in this country," she told CBSN ahead of the election.

Democratic leaders carefully parted ways with her on Wednesday on her support for Medicare for all, and the elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Republicans reveled in the upset. They said it showed the socialist wing is building in the Democratic Party. But Pelosi didn't agree.

"It's ascendant in that district, perhaps, but I don't accept any characterization of our party presented by the Republicans," Pelosi said.

Democrats noted that Crowley is their only House incumbent to lose so far this year, compared to several in the GOP.  

Some Democrats also said they believe Crowley may have been too focused on party dynamics in D.C. and didn't pay enough attention to his district. Others say it has less to do with politics and more to do with this being the year of the woman, and Ocasio-Cortez just the latest example.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28-year-old from the Bronx, defeats Rep. Joseph Crowley in N.Y.'s 14th Congressional District
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.