March 8, 2019

Democratic Primary Update

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

A Morning Consult poll of the 2020 Democratic primary found that “former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are leading the rest of the Democratic presidential primary field by double digits… Biden, who has yet to announce whether he will enter the 2020 race, leads the pack with 31 percent, the survey found. Coming in a close second is Sanders, with 27 percent support.” The Hill

See past issues

From the Left

The left is divided between supporting centrists and progressives, with some arguing that one can offer a progressive agenda while still appealing to centrists.

“When the televised debates start, in June, all the candidates will be pressed to provide more details about their policies. For now, they can largely get away with expressing generalizations. But the over-all trend is clear, and it is going in a progressive direction.”
John Cassidy, The New Yorker

Yet “a recent Harvard-Harris poll… finds that the percentage of Democrats who think of themselves as ‘Obama Democrats’ (49 percent) or ‘moderate Democrats’ (38 percent) vastly exceeds those who think of themselves as ‘progressive Democrats’ (22 percent) or ‘Democratic socialist’ (13 percent)... Moderate Democrats, not Sanders-endorsed candidates, flipped enough seats to win the House. Moderates, not uber-progressive Democrats, won gubernatorial races in Maine, Kansas and Michigan…

“Biden has the reputation for being the eccentric uncle in the room, but in this case, he must play the role of the wise patriarch, there to remind Democrats that they win when they stick to the center-left candidates and that they achieve progressive aims when they win elections… Frankly, that’s a message that many, if not most, Democrats already understand.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

Appealing to the middle doesn’t mean abandoning progressive principles… Candidates can have an ambitious progressive agenda while also reaching out to swing voters… Sanders can do so by emphasizing working-class issues that matter to voters across the ideological spectrum. Elizabeth Warren can talk passionately about family values — the real thing, not the fake version. Harris can present herself as an advocate for crime victims, whether the crimes were white-collar or violent.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

Worth noting: “The ‘Bernie Bro’ — the young, loud, angry white man that came to define Sen. Bernie Sanders’s base of support in 2016 — is looking a lot more diverse these days… 

“Sanders is more popular with people of color than white people, and women like Sanders as much as men do, if not more. He leads every other possible 2020 contender with Latino voters and lags behind only Joe Biden — who hasn’t announced a bid yet — with African-American voters. Sanders’ polling numbers with black voters are double that of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)... age [not race] will likely prove Sanders’s biggest challenge.”
Tara Golshan, Vox

Many are also closely watching Kamala Harris. “She continues to run a practically flawless campaign, a hard thing to do for someone who is doing this for the first time. The only potential hurdle for Harris is the nominating calendar; if she doesn't win, place or show in Iowa or New Hampshire, does that make her less viable in her must-win state of South Carolina? If she can make it that far, the map gets friendlier, with the massive treasure trove of California's delegates waiting in early March.”
Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten, CNN

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is critical of both the increasingly crowded field, and Biden’s chances.

From the Right

The right is critical of both the increasingly crowded field, and Biden’s chances.

“The Democratic candidates are unique but nearly indistinguishable — they all loathe Trump; at least rhetorically support ‘the Green New Deal,’ some variation of ‘Medicare-for-all,’ and free college education; and denounce proposals for physical border barriers as architectural xenophobia. But maybe the more modern comparison is Netflix — there’s no shortage of options, but after a while they all start to look the same.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“A 20-podium stage may prove tough to manage. At minimum, some candidates will try to stand out by making (a) harsh attacks on fellow Democrats, (b) over-the-top assaults on President Trump, and (c) radical proposals to please the party’s hard-left base. Expect a few 2020 hopefuls to hit the trifecta.”
Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal

“The 2020 Democratic primary could resemble the 2016 Republican primary… The large number of candidates may prevent the party from coalescing around a consensus candidate. This is particularly true if Joe Biden, who commands 31 percent support in recent polling, decides not to run. Bernie Sanders, the second place candidate, sits atop a heap of second-tier, mostly unknown candidates, only one of whom, Kamala Harris, currently has support in the double-digits.”
David Thornton, The Resurgent

“People sometimes forget that Biden already tried this twice and failed miserably both times… Right now Biden rides high in polling mainly because of name recognition and sympathy. If he actually hits the campaign trail and returns to his gaffe-mastery and fumbling, the glow will rapidly dissipate and voters will be left with the real Biden — gaffe-prone, handsy with women, and a 50-year denizen of the Beltway.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Moreover, Biden “will encounter a far different political climate than his last two White House attempts in 1988 and 2008… No longer is it acceptable to say nice things about a politician with different worldviews. The days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil battling over policy by day and coming together over an adult beverage in the evening are in the rearview mirror… Although the political world may be waiting, the sun has already set on Joe Biden’s White House dreams. His party has moved on and his moment has passed.”
Colin Reed, Fox News

Regarding Sanders, some posit that, “at least when it comes to his implicit treatment of race, Sanders is closer to the truth than his Democratic opponents

“America is less racist now than it ever has been; laws that discriminate on the basis of race are unconstitutional; racial politics has been relegated, for the most part, to mind-reading the supposed motives of political opponents. Sanders implicitly acknowledges that truth when he calls for solutions that do not take into account race as a key factor… And if Democrats don’t recognize this, they’ll be abandoning the possibility of a broad-based coalition that crosses racial lines in favor of a racially polarized one that exacerbates them.”
Ben Shapiro, Daily Wire

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

Goat from Hildene elected mayor of Fair Haven.
Brattleboro Reformer

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.