02 August 2019

Support For Democratic Presidential Candidates In A Nutshell

The New York Times summarizes the amount of support each leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic Presidential race has and in the linked article maps that geographically.

Who Do I Like And Why?

I would note that Trump is the only President in U.S. history who was not previous a Vice President, U.S. Senator, Governor, cabinet member in the federal government, or highest ranking military officer in the United States, and I think it would be wise to revert to the tradition of imposing those informal qualification for a Presidential nominee. The twelve leading candidates who have that experience are: Sanders, Warren, Harris, Biden, Castro, Booker, Klobuchar, Inslee, Gillibrand, Bennet, Bullock and Hickenlooper.

Many of them are doubtful because their support is almost entirely concentrated in a single state. This is true, at least, of Klobuchar, Inslee, Gillibrand, and Hickenlooper.

This leaves Sanders, Warren, Harris, Biden, Castro, Booker, Bennet, and Bullock.

Sanders and Warren are the leading progressives. Biden, Bennet and Bullock are positioned a centrist moderates. I don't know enough about Harris, Castro or Booker to characterize them on the progressive to centrist spectrum, and that isn't irrelevant. None of those three individuals are really national figures, even though each of them has strong support on his or her home turf. The background Harris has as a prosecutor strikes many as conservative even though she is not positioned strongly in the moderate wing of the Democratic Party like Biden, Bennet, Bullock and Hickenlooper.

In my humble opinion, Biden is the worst candidate for the Democratic nomination with any significant support. If Democrats choose a centrist, either to lead a ticket, or to balance more liberal candidate's ticket as Vice President, Bennet and Bullock would be better candidates, although sacrificing the electoral incumbency advantages that Bennet has in the U.S. Senate and that Bullock has in Montana, may not be worth it compared to the slight bump that a ticket splitting Vice President can provide in the 2020 general election race for President.

I am leaning towards Warren as my preferred candidate for the Democratic nomination. Sanders is too old, and is a somewhat more polarizing figure within the Democratic party. Warren is competent, a good and inspiring public speaker, she speaks to Sanders supporters in terms of policy and could easily win a wholehearted endorsement from Sanders himself, she speaks to supporters of Hillary Clinton in terms of potentially being the first woman to serve as U.S. President, and she has lots of supporters over a wide geographic area (almost everywhere but Texas, which is a lost cause, and Wisconsin) and has raised lots of money. She would do a good job of mobilizing the base while not alienating to many people in the base. 

In terms of a Vice President, the most important qualification is an ability to deliver one or more swing states for the ticket that might otherwise have been difficult for the Presidential nominee to win. 

In 2016, the red states that were close enough that a Democrat might pick up in 2020 were Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, the least urban Congressional districts in Maine, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona (a third-party candidate might just conceivably deny Trump a win in Utah as one nearly did in 2016, but no Democrat would). The states won by Clinton in 2016 that were least secure were Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

The most critical swing states were Florida and the Rust Belt states.

Many Democratic Presidential candidates in 2020 have little or no significant support at this point in any of those swing states. Working from the back of the pack, the following candidates aren't strong at this point in swing states: Blasio, Delany, Ryan, Moulton, Bullock, Gillibrand, and Inslee. If you assume that Colorado and Minnesota won't be a swing states in the Presidential race in 2020 (a fairly safe assumption), Hickenlooper and Klobuchar don't look attractive either.

Which candidates other than Sanders and Warren, have significant numbers of supporters in both the Rust Belt and Florida?

Buttigieg and Biden. And, Biden might do more harm in damping the support of the Democratic faithful, than he would add in swing states. Butteigieg, in contrast, has meaningful backing in key swing states, has great personal charisma, alienates mostly homophobes who were voting for Trump anyway, in significantly less progressive than Warren helping to secure support from more moderate Democrats, and knows how to communicate to Rust Belt voters. A Butterigieg candidacy also won't sacrifice any electoral incumbency advantages in key races. 

Ultimately, then, I like a Warren-Buttigieg ticket. This ticket would secure the extreme hate and ire of cultural conservatives in red states and one percenters. But, those aren't the constituencies that the Democrats need to beat Trump in 2020. Those constituencies are largely lost causes.

Sanders would have been a better choice in 2016 than Clinton. And he still is, beyond being a progressive, a populist than crosses party lines with working class support on bread and butter issues. But, I'm not sure that the hard feelings left from that race, and the fact that he isn't getting any younger, help in 2020. Warren can play the age card as well as the gender card against Trump, Sanders can't.

The Raw Data

Bernie Sanders
Senator from Vermont
746,000 Estimated donors
$36 million Total raised

Elizabeth Warren
Senator from Massachusetts
421,000 Estimated donors
$25 million Total raised

Pete Buttigieg
Mayor of South Bend, Ind.
390,000 Estimated donors
$32 million Total raised

Kamala Harris
Senator from California
277,000 Estimated donors
$24 million Total raised

Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Former vice president
256,000 Estimated donors
$22 million Total raised

Beto O’Rourke
Former congressman from Texas
188,000 Estimated donors
$13 million Total raised

Andrew Yang
133,000 Estimated donors
$5 million Total raised

Julián Castro
Former housing secretary
110,000 Estimated donors
$4 million Total raised

Cory Booker
Senator from New Jersey
100,000 Estimated donors
$10 million Total raised

Tulsi Gabbard
Congresswoman from Hawaii
88,000 Estimated donors
$4 million Total raised

Amy Klobuchar
Senator from Minnesota
79,000 Estimated donors
$9 million Total raised

Jay Inslee
Governor of Washington State
78,000 Estimated donors
$5 million Total raised

Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator from New York
77,000 Estimated donors
$5 million Total raised

Marianne Williamson
Self-help author
75,000 Estimated donors
$3 million Total raised

Michael Bennet
Senator from Colorado
28,000 Estimated donors
$3 million Total raised

Steve Bullock
Governor of Montana
17,000 Estimated donors
$2 million Total raised

Seth Moulton
Congressman from Massachusetts
14,000 Estimated donors
$1 million Total raised

John Hickenlooper
Former governor of Colorado
14,000 Estimated donors
$3 million Total raised

Tim Ryan
Congressman from Ohio
10,000 Estimated donors
$1 million Total raised

John Delaney
Former congressman from Maryland
8,000 Estimated donors
$2 million Total raised
Bill de Blasio
Mayor of New York City
7,000 Estimated donors
$1 million Total raised

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