2020 Democrats: state of the race (May 26th, 2019)

This sum up of the state of the 2020 race on the Democrats’ side from The Ringer‘s Justin Charity will likely make a great many people howl with outrage, but it’s interesting at least as a discussion point:

  • Biden suggests an old-school liberalism pitched to nervous centrists who resent Trump, and Sanders suggests a passionate left-wing program pitched to disenchanted voters. The 22 other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination do not complicate the foundational contrast; they simply reinforce the Biden-vs.-Sanders distinction. O’Rourke, California Senator Kamala Harris, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg are Biden, but younger. Warren, the wonky ex-Republican, is Sanders for self-described pragmatists.

A big and as yet unanswered question for Biden is how enthusiastic his supporters are, and how that enthusiasm will manifest not only in keeping on board with the former VP through the primary season (and beyond that too, of course) but how willing and able his core supporters will be to volunteer, knock on doors and make calls, and eventually do the hard work of compelling other less enthusiastic supporters to vote on or before Election Day. Here’s how Amy Walter, National Editor for the Cook Political Reporterframes it:

  • After watching the Biden campaign thus far + Philly rally yesterday, my takeaway is that his candidacy is like one of those ‘casual’ nice restaurants that you go to b/c they have a big menu and everyone in your group can find something they’ll eat. No one is unhappy (“look, honey they have grilled cheese for the kids and I can get a salad), but no one walks away thinking that was an amazing meal or experience. It’s not risky, but it’s also not totally satisfying either.

Both national and early primary state polls have Joe Biden continuing to dominate the 2020 Dem field. A Florida Atlantic University poll for the Sunshine State primary has Biden at 39%, with Bernie Sanders (12%), Elizabeth Warren (12%), Pete Buttigieg (9%), and Kamala Harris (7%) trailing. A few somewhat interesting tidbits to pick through here is a slow but steady uptick for Warren where she’s vying in some polls for the second place slot long occupied by Sanders. Also notable to see Mayor Pete holding his own in fourth place, keeping in mind that he was considered the longest of long shots before entering the race.

Really though, this is a Biden domination story, and will likely remain so pending “big news” of some sort at least until the first Democratic debates at the end of June. The FAU poll also pitted some of the 2020 Dems against Trump in Florida, and not surprisingly Biden fared best, though he came in at a 50-50% tie (The 2000 election says, “What up?“). Florida, a steadily red trending state over the last few cycles, is no longer as crucial to the Democrats’ chances as it once was (with states like Virginia and Colorado trending blue) but it’s another state where if the Dems can lock it in, the odds of their getting to 270 electoral votes spike up dramatically.

From Ronald Brownstein:

  • To topple @JoeBiden another D must find a way to loosen his grip on older voters. In the new Florida (FAU) poll, he’s over 50% w/voters >50. Sanders is in single digits w/them. Even with eh #s <50 that’s a powerful base 4 Biden-reminiscent of Trump’s hold on blue-collar Rs in ’16

And meanwhile:

  • New Monmouth poll shows Bernie Sanders support in 2020 falling from 25% in March to 15% in May

We’ll have to see if that’s statistical noise or if Sanders’ support is waning in favor, perhaps, of Warren (this piece argues that she’s “slowly and persistently… on the rise”)  or Harris.

Speaking of polls, a Quinnipiac poll finds that 54% of voters will “definitely” not vote for Trump in 2020.  That implies that he has to absolutely max out his existing base to pull the same “inside straight” to win again in 2020.

From Harry Enten:

  • Early days yet, but the strong opposition to Trump’s re-elect remains historically high.

Another important factor for 2020 and any election, really, is turnout. And turnout for the 2020 election could be historically high, which could be, well, bad for Trump:

  • According to Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida, turnout for the 2020 presidential election could be as high as 67% — the highest it’s been since at least 1916. If that happens, President Trump will have a tougher fight for a second term.
  • The bottom line: For all of his struggles in the polls, Trump is the incumbent and he has a booming economy. But a historic election turnout could wipe out those advantages — and the early signs suggest that’s exactly what we’re about to get.

This AP story discusses the importance of Hispanics in Democratic primary voting, noting that there simply aren’t many of them in the early voting states (6% of Iowans are Hispanic, for example).  However, with Nevada and then delegate-rich Texas and California voting relatively early in the cycle (the latter two as part of Super Tuesday on March 3rd, 2020), Hispanics may have a greater influence this time around. Those factors will certainly be in the plans and hopes of Kamala Harris (D-CA), Beto O’Rourke, and Julian Castro (both D-TX) as part of the 16-dimensional puzzle to break out of the pack and become a player heading into the post-Super Tuesday part of the primary calendar.

It seems pretty clear that the president is focused (read = obsessed) with two things: the prospect of Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee, and the potential face off of Trump v. Biden in the latter’s native state of Pennsylvania:

  • “Don’t forget, Biden deserted you. He’s not from Pennsylvania. I guess he was born here but he left you, folks. He left you for another state,” Trump said, referring to the Biden family’s move in the early 1950s to Delaware. “Remember that, please. I meant to say that.”

Then, on an equally incorrect and incoherent note:

  • “This guy talks about ‘I know Scranton.’ … He left you for another state and he didn’t take care of you because he didn’t take care of your jobs. He let other countries come in and rip off America. That doesn’t happen anymore,” Trump said.

And in a dispatch from #MAGA country, there’s “relief” that Trump is restoring “the old ways.”

This post originally appeared in The Berlin Files e-mail newsletter. To get a weekly blast of pop culture, digital media, and politics that helps make sense of an increasingly frazzled world, sign on up for The Berlin Files here.

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