By Matt Rosen
As 2020 draws ever closer, the pool of potential democratic candidates is filling to the brim. In this piece I will analyze current contenders for the democratic nomination most likely to succeed. As a disclaimer, my rationale for this list of “Top Democrats” is simply my early guesses, and certainly may change as the campaigns progress. The main qualities of a Democratic candidate who will be successful, in my opinion, are the following: they don’t alienate the moderates/establishment, they do well with the minority voting block (which is an official category of voters), and they can keep up with the party which has shifted very far left in a short amount of time. This is an analysis on who I believe has the best chance in the primaries.
1) Bernie Sanders- So as of today, I think Bernie Sanders should be considered the front runner. While I could have just as easily put him as number two, he just seems like a much more solid candidate so far. Even if you ignore the money he raised, it’s hard to argue that Kamala Harris stands a better chance. A couple of weeks ago I would have had it the other way around, but recently I’ve changed my mind.
Bernie is a much more charismatic and exciting for Democrats than any of the other candidates. Bernie is going to run away with the extreme left voters, the millennials, and there is a good chance he even wins the establishment vote. While every other Democrat is trying to walk a thin line between Be As Extremely Left as Possible and Don’t Be Too Crazy, Bernie doesn’t care. Bernie is going to offer every possible new program that gives away “free” stuff.
Bernie’s flaw when it comes to the Democratic Primary is that he loses with the minority wing of the party, and with the moderates. I can almost guarantee that someone at some point during the campaign will complain that he is old, a man, and white. But Bernie seems less bothered by all of this, which is exactly how you have to be if you want to win.
Verdict: Bernie is the top candidate for the radical far-left wing of the party.
2) Kamala Harris- And that brings me to why Kamala Harris is number two: she is almost the exact opposite of Bernie Sanders in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Her biggest strength is the minority card. I’ve heard people argue that she is trying to run a less successful version of Barack Obama’s campaign strategy, and perhaps she is. Now of course none of us mind a minority or a woman to be President, but that shouldn’t be the reason why someone wins, which is how Kamala is running her campaign.
Her weaknesses are that she is less exciting and less extreme for a party that he shifted far left very quickly, and it is entirely possible that she loses the support of establishment Democrats because of those two facts. Additionally, her history as a prosecutor may also upset anti-incarceration leftist. That being said, moderates and minorities will definitely (in general) take her over Bernie.
Verdict: Kamala is the top candidate for the intersectional/minority wing of the party.
3) Joe Biden- At this point I haven’t even considered whether Biden should go above Bernie or Kamala, simply because he hasn’t declared that he is even running yet. However, if Biden throws his hat in the ring, he is sure to be matched with both of them because of his history, name recognition, and popularity with Democrats. Biden would be a game changer because the voters who loved Obama, who are establishment, and are traditional or moderate Democrats could all jump ship for Biden.
Of course he has weaknesses too, including the fact that he won’t do as well with minority voters and isn’t as extreme as the Democratic base has shifted.
Verdict: Biden is the top candidate for the traditional/establishment wing of the party.
I personally believe that the top three Democrats represent the three important wings of the Democratic party. Bernie will do well because he is the most far left candidate who is the face of the far left, Kamala will do well because she is the face of the minority/intersectional sect of the party who feel victimized, and Biden would do well because he is the best establishment/traditional candidate, even though he hasn’t officially declared yet. But who are their understudies? Who are the dark horses behind these three?
Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke- Warren and Beto are the backups to Bernie. Warren tried to run a mix between the Hillary and Bernie campaigns, but that idea crashed and burned once Bernie declared. The same goes for Beto, but with the young, excited voters, specifically millennials. While both of these two are attempting to use some of the tactics of the other wings of the party, my opinion is that Bernie declaring was the nail in their 2020 coffin. In order for them to have a chance, they would both have to be more exciting than they currently are.
Cory Booker and Eric Holder?- Booker and Holder are the two other minorities in the Democratic Party who have their eyes on the Presidency. It is very unclear as to whether Holder will jump in the race, but Booker already has. I’m going to keep this short, neither have any chance of winning, but are the next in line to claim the minority/intersectional wing of the party.
Hillary Clinton and Kirsten Gillibrand- No, I do not think Hillary will run, and no, I don’t think Gillibrand will get more than 1% of the vote. But it’s worth noting that they are the most establishment candidates left.
So since my 6th-9th place Democrats (Booker, Holder, Clinton, Gillibrand) in my opinion have no chance in the primaries, it is essentially a five person race, with three clear front runners (if Biden does run). The winner of the primaries will probably be determined by who hates Trump the most, who can have the most overlap with the other candidates’ wing and who can get their own wing of the party to come out and vote in large numbers.