Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, A Two-Man Race

white house

Photo by Aaron Kittredge on Pexels.com

How quickly things change. A week ago, the Democratic race for president was a logjam, none of the candidates going anywhere. Except Bernie Sanders.

Enter Rep. Jim Clyburn. His endorsement put the wind at Joe Biden’s back. Biden is suddenly the winner in South Carolina. Not just a winner, but the big winner.

Tom Steyer dropped out Saturday evening before all the votes were counted. Before the night was over, some were declaring it a two-man race. Biden and Sanders.

Former mayor Pete Buttigieg, a phenom in Iowa only a few weeks ago, bowed out Sunday.

For Joe Biden, it’s all good news

Joe_Biden_kickoff_rally_May_2019

JOE BIDEN, Creative Commons

Update, this just in: Monday, Amy Klobuchar is not waiting until Wednesday. She’s out. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar reported set to endorse Joe Biden at a rally in Texas on Monday evening! A classy move by Pete and Amy the night before Super Tuesday.

Between Biden and Sanders, electability is the critical issue.

Democrats are all about discerning the candidate who can take back the White House.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. But many votes have been cast in early voting. So  it’s impossible to know how great a surge Joe Biden might get from South Carolina. And although it may be a two-man race, a third candidate, billionaire Mike Bloomberg, has invested millions in advertising.

Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, if they run as poorly as expected Tuesday, should drop out on Wednesday. Whether they do or not will make little difference. Mike Bloomberg should drop out on Wednesday too. But who knows what he might be thinking?

People are hoping for some clarity by late Tuesday evening. However, clarity will not be quick or easy. Buckle up for a long and winding road to the nomination.

For a true barometer of who can defeat Donald Trump, look one week ahead, to March 10, when Michigan will be among the states voting.

Michigan is one of the upper Midwest states that hold the key to Democratic hopes in November. If either Biden or Sanders can generate enthusiasm and turn out a decisive majority in Michigan, that might be as good an indicator as you’re going to get on the electability question.

Other important states, Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Arizona, vote March 17. And Georgia follows March 24. Taken together, the five late-March states will provide further insight on electability.

Many Democrats seem to have already conceded Ohio as a red state in November. I think that’s premature. Regardless, Ohio is a big Midwestern state, and the verdict of Democrats there, along with Democrats in Michigan, will be telling. Possibly even decisive.

It seems safe to assume that neither Sanders nor Biden (or Bloomberg, heaven forbid) will hold a decisive lead in delegates at the end of March, and there will be important primaries still to come.

Wisconsin, next-door to Michigan and just as important for a November victory, votes Apr. 7. Wisconsin will have the spotlight all to itself that day. If electability is still an open question, the opinion of Wisconsin voters could be mightily important.

Are we there yet? At the end of April, Pennsylvania, New York, and four other Northeast states vote on Apr. 28. Lots of delegates if the delegate race is close. But maybe as important, Pennsylvania is right up there with Michigan and Wisconsin as critical for a Democratic victory in November.

We’ve got a long road to travel to the Democratic convention in Milwaukee in July. An arduous journey for two old men.

— John Hayden

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump

 

Joe_Biden_kickoff_rally_May_2019

JOE BIDEN, Creative Commons

Who is electable?

That’s the question of the year for Democrats in 2020.

For insight on electability, the 2016 experience is instructive. Donald Trump appealed to a minority coalition of mostly white voters — voters seething with resentment because they felt disrespected and ignored by a prosperous, elitist urban America on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Donald Trump’s coalition was, and is, somewhat short of a majority. The resentment coalition included:

  • Southern whites
  • Residents of “flyover country”
  • Evangelical Christians

Those three groups do not constitute a majority.

Trump added to his coalition a necessary margin of voters in the upper Midwest. Not quite enough to make a true majority. But Trump’s Midwestern voters were strategically located to swing the Electoral College. That made Trump president in 2016. Can he do it again, or will one of the Democrats be more electable?

Bernie Sanders is gathering a coalition of the oppressed and left-out. That includes:

  • Voters of any age who feel mercilessly exploited by winner-take-all capitalism — the underemployed, underinsured, and over-indebted. Importantly, many younger Americans feel trapped at the bottom. They find hope in Bernie Sanders.
  • African-Americans who have always been — and remain — oppressed and exploited in America.
  • Latinos who feel downright unwelcome in Trump’s America.
  • Liberal white Democrats are supportive of the oppressed coalition.

Voila! It looks like a plausible Bernie Sanders majority.

Joe Biden can hold together the African-American and Latino parts of the oppressed coalition, and probably do even better with liberal white Democrats. But no one believes he can energize the younger generations the way Bernie can.

Elizabeth Warren could arguably hold together that same coalition of the oppressed, minorities, and liberal Democrats. Plus, she might increase participation of oppressed women. But her support among minorities and the young is unproven.

Young voters could destroy the Democratic Party in 2020 if they believe the nomination has been stolen from Bernie.

Unanswered questions

It is reasonable to question the electability of all three — Sanders, Warren and Biden — for different reasons.

Can Sanders or Warren energize and turn out African-Americans and Latinos in sufficient numbers to win?

Can Biden or Warren turn out the younger voters who are fervently committed to Bernie?

But wait. Any of the presidential hopefuls might enhance their electability with the right vice presidential candidate. It’s easy to guess that a popular African-American on the ticket could make all the difference. Cory Booker? Maybe a Latino running mate would have the same effect. Julian Castro? And if the nominee is Bernie or Joe, a woman running mate might change the dynamic.

Et cetera

Amy Klobuchar is the candidate with je ne sais quoi.  Klobuchar is the surprise waiting to happen. I like her because she could win Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Those states made all the difference in 2016. And don’t  forget that Klobuchar is potentially the first woman president. With the right running mate, a Klobuchar ticket could motivate minority voters. Alas, Klobuchar doesn’t have the numbers and she’s fading from the picture for 2020.

And former Mayor Pete? Wall Street Pete? Electability calls for experience, and Pete doesn’t have it. His support is limited and it’s difficult to imagine him putting together the necessary coalition.

Finally, Mike Bloomberg. Former Republican mayor of New York. He’s wealthier than Donald Trump. And perhaps more arrogant. Is any part of the Democratic coalition really waiting for another wealthy, arrogant New Yorker?

Conclusion

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren. All plausible. In the end, it’s up to Democratic primary voters to decide..

— John Hayden

Bernie Sanders Is The Grandfather Figure Americans Will Vote For

Bernie Sanders

Meet Grandfather. His mind is sharp as a tack!

The question of the week: Is Bernie Sanders electable in a General Election???

The implied assumption is that a Democratic-Socialist from Vermont could not survive in real-world politics, with “real world” defined as the part of America outside New England. See an interesting discussion over at Clarissa’s Blog.

It is true that Bernie would have a hill to climb to persuade 51 percent of American voters to support him. But wait! Every presidential candidate must climb that hill. Would it be more, or less, difficult for Donald Trump to achieve 51 percent support in the General Election? How about Ted Cruz?

In Sanders vs. Trump OR Sanders vs. Cruz, both the Democratic and Republican nominees would be unconventional candidates. Maybe even strange candidates. In a normal election year, none of the three would stand a snowball’s chance of winning a major-party nomination.

The scenario is, we have a strange, unprecedented election in front of us. Totally unpredictable. But we can take a look at a number of obvious political factors. Continue reading