Right now all the drama is over on the Republican’s side, but don’t forget about the Democrats, particularly as we get closer to 2020. As a former analyst, I’ve been sifting through the early signs and have come up with my forecast for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. You might ask who will run against Donald Trump, but I suspect that by 2020 it very well might be John Kasich or even Mike Pence, depending on the fallout from the Trump earthquake that’s bound to occur before then. So, without further delay, here are the horses in the race wearing blue colors.
Run another woman? There are positives and negatives to running a woman. I firmly believe that Hillary brought about her own loss along with lots of help from Republican propaganda and Russian fake news, but let’s not ignore the millions of conservative white women who still believe that a woman’s place is still in a subservient place in the home and that any woman trying to run for president must be uppity and arrogant. Remember that Donald Trump won primarily by running as an authoritarian alpha male figure that would take charge. Some psychologists have written that a significant portion of the population sees the world in Biblical terms of black and white, good and bad, and yearns for an authoritarian Daddy like figure. They seem someone to tell them what to do. So, a woman running for president starts with a group of people already solidly against her.
Of course women also start with the support of a lot of other women as well as young people. A woman other than Hillary might be able to offer a softer image that would serve as a nice contrast to Trump’s nastiness. Women also project more compassion and might be better messengers in moving the country toward a one-payer health system, a less expensive prescription drug program, and more support for public education and the arts and sciences while offering a small defense budget.
Elizabeth Warren has squirreled away millions of dollars in her campaign fund. She will face a tough election in 2018 and might be asked to promise to fulfill her term. Assuming she escapes that trap and wins re-election (not a sure thing since her approval rating in her home state is under 50%), she will start with very high name recognition and a reputation for fighting for the average person against big corporations. Her positives include a very solid progressive reputation, the complete support of the Bernie wing of the party and heavy support from younger people. Negatives include a lack of attention to the traditional Democratic Party’s black and Hispanic voters. Can she excite them to get out and vote?
The other problem I believe Warren has is her personality. She looks and sounds like an angry school marm or librarian. In media terms, she comes across as harsh rather than soft. One talking head described her as “preachy.” While that tone works during Senate hearings when she balls out CEOs who have raped and pillaged the public, it doesn’t work with common people. My concern about Warren is that she will excite the progressives, turn off the moderate Democrats, and mobilize some moderate Republicans to come out and vote against her.
Karen Gillibrand is New York’s junior senator, and a very interesting candidate. She has gradually moved from being a conservative blue-dog Democrat representing a conservative area of New York state to a more progressive position. She has worked with Republicans in a bipartisan way when possible (It’s rarely possible now). She has a much softer image than Warren or Clinton and might not turn off more traditional women. She’s also attractive and has taken a leadership position in working on veteran and gay issues. I consider a definite dark horse in the race.
There are not a lot of strong male candidates, and some of the ones who are out there seem to want the nomination a bit too much. Martin O’Malley, as an example, this former governor of Maryland needs to find a job rather than run perpetually. He comes across like the kid who always runs for student body president but never wins. The question is who would make a great foil against the Republican candidate. Cory Booker has been running for President from the day he was elected Senator. If Barack Obama had never been president, then he might actually have a chance. This country is still even more racist than it is anti-woman. I think Booker is articulate, truly progressive, and heroic in some ways, but he has baggage going back to his time as Mayor. He never has married, and let the whispers begin in the Midwest and South. While Booker would excite some progressives and minority voters, he would not do well enough in the suburbs.
If Karen Gillibrand doesn’t get the nomination, another dark horse is Brian Schweitzer. He’s the former folksy Democratic governor of Montana. He left with over a 60% approval rating in a very conservative state. He has supported green energy initiatives, cuts in prescription drug costs, and other positions that would make a nice contrast with the Republican candidate. He is folksy and quirky enough to appeal to both suburban and small town voters, particularly in the Midwest states that cost Hillary the election. He’s not perfect. He sometimes puts his foot in his mouth, and he has been accused of some ethical violations that I’m sure the right-wing media would exploit. Also, he signed a bill that promoted Montana’s home produced firearms. One other item of interest is that he speaks Arabic because he spent a few years doing business in the Middle East. Can you imagine the contrast with the Republican candidate?
Some of you are probably wondering why I didn’t mention Tim Kaine. I really like the guy and think he has a very good heart and stands on the correct side of most issues I care about. The problem is that he did not distinguish himself in his VP debate against Mike Pence (not the world’s greatest orator). He comes across as very earnest, but he doesn’t cause excitement. Most pundits thought he represented the “safe choice” for Hillary. He checks all the boxes, but he won’t cause people to become excited enough to devote months to getting him elected. I think he’s great to have in the Senate. If the Democrats can win back the Senate, he could really help chairing some important committees.
So, here’s hoping someone new comes riding out of nowhere on a white horse and captures the public’s imagination and their votes. If not, here are the candidates in my opinion.