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

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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

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

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

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

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

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

Goat from Hildene elected mayor of Fair Haven.
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