The Democrat nomination is up for grabs

Armstrong Williams | 2/7/2019, 12:49 p.m.
Along with the 2019 new year came the predictable onset of the 2020 presidential election cycle.
Armstrong Williams

Along with the 2019 new year came the predictable onset of the 2020 presidential election cycle. With incumbent President Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee, most of the action for now is taking place on the Democrat side of the aisle. As usual, the early announcements feature mainstream Democrats seeking the nomination along traditional political trajectories. However, with new polling data coming out almost every other day, it is clear that none of the current frontrunners enjoy a clear advantage among American voters. Expect that to continue for several more months.

One thing is certain though: whoever looks popular today will likely NOT be the Democrat’s 2020 nominee. This dance will shift and change dozens of times before any front runner becomes clear. And even then, I predict the field will be crowded with at least three strong candidates. That’s how fractured the Dem base is right now. This is not a criticism but merely a reflection of our healthy democratic process. The system has a way of testing even the sharpest politicos. We should welcome that debate.

The Democrat with the most ‘street cred’ at this point is former Vice President Joe Biden. Normally someone with the credentials and experience of Biden would be the presumptive nominee. After all, the Democrats’ last nominee, Hillary Clinton, enjoyed all of the insider advantages that Biden possesses, minus the baggage (in today’s politics) of being a rich white male. Clinton banked on being a rich, white, well connected politician and a viable alternative to the Republican slate. This ultimately failed to translate into a significant competitive advantage. Although she won the women’s vote quite impressively against then-candidate Donald Trump, she lost the white vote and, significantly, lost the white women’s vote to Trump by a margin of 47 percent to 45 percent according to a recent study published by the Pew Research Center. Although neither Trump nor Clinton won a majority of the white women vote, Clinton vastly outperformed Trump among nonwhite women, by a whopping majority of 82 percent to 16 percent.

All of this begs the question of whether a mainstream candidate like Joe Biden can attract a coalition of white and nonwhite women that could surpass Clinton’s totals. Biden has negatives—most significantly, his losing track record as a presidential candidate, having lost the nomination in four previous runs at the highest office dating back to the 1980s. Biden in fact polled terribly in the 2008 Democratic Party primary, coming in a far distant sixth with merely 64,000 primary votes compared to more than 16 million votes each for Barack Obama and Clinton. Despite Biden’s name recognition and near-statesman status, he has yet to prove that he can move a significant portion of even the Democratic Party, not to mention the entire electorate.

Despite the fact that Biden has the highest name recognition among current Democrats who have announced their candidacy for 2020, he may in fact be the least capable campaigner. The other candidates among the slate of current contenders include a few up-and-coming stars, including Senators Kamala Harris and Corey Booker. Harris is definitely a formidable political player, having gained a higher profile from her memorable grilling of Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh during his contentious confirmation hearings last summer. Add the fact that Harris is also a former federal prosecutor hailing from one of the largest states, California, and a woman of color, and she stands out from the field. Booker, on the other hand, is a naturally talented politician, but his poor record on urban renewal as mayor of Newark may come back to haunt him under the withering competition of primary season.