Let’s be honest, the calendar says 2018 but we all know what year it really is. 2020. It’s time to pick a Democratic candidate to challenge Trump. We have no idea who will be in the field but I went ahead and did a power ranking of the top ten in terms of their ability to win the Democratic nomination and their ability to beat Donald Trump. Here they are.
Winning the primary

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Kamala Harris
  3. Beto O’Rourke
  4. Stacey Abrams
  5. Tom Steyer
  6. Corey Booker
  7. Andrew Gillum
  8. Eric Holder
  9. Elizabeth Warren
  10. Julian Casto

Winning the general

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Beto O’Rourke
  3. Amy Klobuchar
  4. Bernie Sanders
  5. Sherrod Brown
  6. Stacey Abrams
  7. Kamala Harris
  8. Tim Ryan
  9. Hillary Clinton
  10. Tom Steyer

Some general thoughts:

  • Being able to win the Democratic Primary does not mean you’ll be able to win the general election. Only 5 of my top 10 primary Democrats are in my top 10 general.
  • Uncle Joe isn’t super progressive, but he has the name ID, likability and connections.
  • I think Beto would have a solid shot to be the countries first Irish-fake Hispanic President. It would be a truly historic moment. I know he lost his Senate race and has literally zero credentials, but 2016 provided you can no experience and win. Beto isn’t really that progressive, but he excites the Democratic base way more than he deserves (especially compared to someone like Kamala Harris) and that could be enough.
  • Uncle Joe and Beto would make a killer ticket. A ticket I would easily bet over Trump right now.
  • I would put Uncle Joe, Beto and Klobuchar as the A-team tier. Similarly, I would put Sanders and Brown in the “better than a toss-up” tier, Abrams and Harris in the “50/50” tier and if anyone else wins the nomination I would give the odds to Trump. I think the Democratic bench is so weak past those eight; I genuinely struggled to come up with two choices I could reasonably justify.
  • Amy Klobuchar might be the first female President of the United States. She’s a serious dark horse candidate. Since 2000, no Democrat has gotten over 54% of the vote in a Minnesota Senate or Governor’s election. Except for Klobuchar. She got 58.06% in her first Senate election in 2006 while the Democratic gubernatorial candidate got 45.7%. When Obama got 52.65% in 2012 she cleaned up with 65.23%. And followed it up with 60.3% in 2018 while her Democratic colleague, Tina Smith, got 53% in the Senate Special Election and Tim Walz got 53.8% in the Gubernatorial election. In short, Amy Klobuchar has a talent for dunking on Republicans and if she can do it in Minnesota then it isn’t a stretch to think she can do it in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
  • You’d think Bernie would be higher, wouldn’t you? The thing is, when he was born FDR was literally alive, World War 2 was still raging and nukes hadn’t been used yet. The old issue wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t have to win a progressive-off. He’ll be out woked by Harris in the woke progressive lane and be challenged by Brown in the economic progressive lane. That said, the old issue goes away when your opponent looks like a fake orange cadaver and you’re in the general election.
    I think Sherrod Brown is a genuinely underestimated candidate. He can compete in the woke progressive lane and in the economic progressive lane. But I’m not sure he can overcome being a white male to win the nomination.
  • Ya, Stacey Abrams. That wasn’t a mistake. Yes, I know she lost, but she only lost by 1.8%. Do you know the last time a Georgia Democrat got 48.8% in a Governor’s election? Bill Clinton was still checking out White House interns. Hillary lost in 2016 because she couldn’t drive enough turnout in urban Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I.e. she didn’t turn out enough African-American voters. Abrams absolutely crushed African-American turnout in Georgia. If she can do that, even to a lower extent, in the swing states she’ll have a solid chance.
  • What’s up with failed 2018 Senate and Governor Candidates? I have 3 in my DNC top 10 and 2 in my General top 10.
  • Kamala Harris checks off both the minority box and the women box making her potentially the most intersectional candidate in the race. In a crowded field, winning those identify group may put you over in Democratic primary. Lucky for her, over 71% of minority women have her in there top three and the next closest is Beto at 38%.
  • I’m not sure what Julian Castro has that Beto doesn’t. Besides actually being Hispanic.
  • The white male barley known Governors, Senators and Representatives can sit down and not bother. The 2020 Democratic party is too woke for you. Yes, I’m looking at you John Hickenlooper, Jeff Merkley, Martin O’Malley, Terry Mcauliffe, and Tim Ryan.
  • Michael Bloomberg is like Tom Steyer (see below) but not progressive. Otherwise, he’s like the above five, but with stop-and-frisk baggage.
  • I don’t think Tom Steyer is a great candidate. But I know his net worth is larger than the GDP of a small country and he isn’t afraid to spend it on politics.
  • Kristen Gillibrand is young Hillary. And just as unlikable and conniving. Change my mind.
  • Eric Holder would be super interesting. His campaign could easily become a referendum on the Obama administration.
  • I’d give Tulsi Gabbard a better chance, but I don’t think the Democrats are so tone deaf that they would nominate her while they are on their Trump-Russia shtick. For obvious reasons.
  • You almost gotta feel bad for Elizabeth Warren. Liz was seen as Hillary Clinton’s biggest potential challenger in 2016– the one person who could beat her. She was in VP consideration and arguably had one of the strongest 2020 cases in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 debacle. As a woman she checked off the intersectionality box, she had years of public policy experience and an established progressive track record. And all that got her was 8% or 9% in Iowa and 60% favorables nationally among Democrats. I would genuinely feel bad for her if I didn’t have such a strong distaste for her.
  • I know Hillary Clinton is an awful candidate, but hear me out. She almost beat Trump in 2016. The race came down to less than 1% in three states. Super close. Let’s keep everything equal, but Clinton can point to a disastrous first Trump term. That’s gotta be worth something? Plus, you know, third time’s the charm.

Posted by Roman Bilan

One Comment

  1. Good read! Great stuff

    Like

    Reply

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