Politics Magazine

02.13.20 Goodbye, Elizabeth. Hello, Amy?

Posted on the 13 February 2020 by Keith Berner @leftyview

It was with considerable sadness that I removed the Elizabeth Warren button from my knapsack today and unsubscribed from campaign emails. I still think Warren is the best candidate in the field to be president. But after her drubbings in Iowa and New Hampshire (she was supremely well organized in both places), not to mention her steady decline in national polls (according to Real Clear Politics, she is now in fourth place, behind Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg), she no longer has a viable shot at the nomination.

Yes, this race is still very fluid. But, it’s hard to see Warren finishing better than third place in any upcoming primary. I believe it is time to move on, because time is short and the reality is that Democrats must select someone who can win in November and that person has to get the nomination first.

As I posted on Facebook recently, the strong possibility of 45’s (the president’s) reelection has produced not only depression in yours truly, but has me shaking with terror. In this environment, no Democratic candidate’s policies or ideology matters a whit to me now. (How ironic that Warren’s “I have a plan for that” has proven irrelevant in a year when only winning matters.)

Where to turn?

Bernie Sanders represents my policy views extremely well (second only to Warren). His impact on the Democratic Party is something all progressives should be grateful for. But his theory that he can bring waves of new voters to the polls to beat 45 without significant support from moderates is a pipe dream. Sanders underperformed (in comparison to polls and his own expectations) in both of the first two states. More significantly, voter turnout was mediocre, meaning that few new voters showed up to demonstrate their Bernie burn. Sanders is now the front-runner, but he’s a weak one and could potentially spell disaster for Democrats in the fall campaign, not only losing to 45, but also failing to provide necessary coattails to Senate and House candidates.

Current polls show Sanders’ beating 45. Polls also show a majority of voters declaring their unwillingness to vote for a socialist, while they are much more willing to support old candidates, young candidates, women, and gays, among other categories. Sigh.

Amy Klobuchar was a bigger story out of New Hampshire than Bernie Sanders: she over-performed polls and in a few days shot up from mid-single digits to win nearly 20% of the vote there. She is more moderate than I am, but (as I have said) that hardly matters. I remain concerned about Klobuchar’s record of staff abuse – this bodes ill for her ability to govern. Her debate performances, though, reveal a candidate who could stand up to 45 well. What remains to be seen is whether Klobuchar has the resources and organization to compete in upcoming primaries and caucuses.

Some have deemed Mike Bloomberg the big winner out of New Hampshire, even though he won’t be on the ballot until Super Tuesday on March 3. I am negatively inclined towards Bloomberg: not only am I principally opposed to billionaires’ purchasing political power, but Bloomberg drove the infamous, racist stop-and-frisk policy, as mayor of New York. Just the same, recent polling shows his African American support growing, most likely at the expense of Biden. In a contest between two New York billionaires over age 75, one can imagine Bloomberg’s giving it to 45 as good as he gets. It could be downright fun to watch Bloomberg eviscerate 45 in debates and in advertising. Could Bloomberg be the Democrats’ savior this fall? Maybe.

Pete Buttigieg bothers me. He is so green – both his age and his experience as mayor of a small city hardly give me confidence. Also, his record in overseeing a racist police department is worrying. There is no sign of Buttigieg’s gaining any significant support from people of color (partly based on his record in South Bend, IN). Buttigieg will get the crap beaten out of him by 45. (Klobuchar also has minimal support from people of color at this point, but that could change quickly.)

The best thing that could happen to the Democratic field right now, would be for Joe Biden to collapse and bow out, clearing the path for the other remaining moderates. Biden has a firewall of sorts in South Carolina (to vote on February 29), where he has significant support from the African-American community. But I expect upcoming polls will show leakage or even a hemorrhage of that support. Would it go to Tom Steyer (the race’s other billionaire, who has purchased double digit support in SC) or Klobuchar? (Would Warren have a shot at a decent showing in SC? Perhaps, but doubtful.) Remember that Bloomberg will not be on the ballot in SC.

Of the remaining candidates who have a shot at the nomination (which doesn’t include Steyer or Warren) and in a field where every candidate has flaws, Klobuchar stands out. While 45 and the GOP will be merciless this fall, it is hard to see what their story line against Klobuchar might be. This is why I think she might be the right candidate to win in November. Today, I am switching my support to Klobuchar and hoping against hope that her surge will provide her the resources to compete over the next two months.

PS. Good riddance to Andrew Yang, Michael Bennet, and Deval Patrick, all of whom dropped out this week. They had no significant impact on the Democratic race for president and were merely taking up valuable space, especially Yang. It will be interesting to see where Yang’s support ends up going.

©2020 Keith Berner

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog