Handicapping 2020

Ninety-three candidates seek the Democratic presidential nomination. A slight exaggeration. But it’s a lot of them.

Many don’t really expect to win. But as the NY lottery slogan says, “Hey, you never know.” I remember hearing on the radio, “Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter today declared his candidacy for president.” And saying to myself, “What makes him imagine he can get it? Fat chance.”

Some of today’s crop are really seeking the vice presidency. Hoping to make a good impression and get noticed. Yet the sheer size of the field makes that hard.

There’s been speculation that Hillary Clinton is running. Please, please, no! Though I certainly wish she were president now instead of Trump (and the rap against her was insanely exaggerated), politically Hillary is the rancid ghost of Christmas Past. Despite her obvious strengths, which would win her a big chunk of votes, I believe enough Democrats blame her for losing in 2016 that she could not possibly be nominated. While her just running would poison the atmosphere for Democrats.

More likely to re-run is Bernie Sanders. If you were him, why wouldn’t you? Sanders was idolized in 2016 by many Democrats, who also felt he was somehow cheated of the nomination (not so). Certainly he’d enter the race with a big rabid fan base. Remember the early 2016 primaries, with Trump able to rack up wins with like 30% of the vote because the rest was split among so many others. Bernie can benefit from a similar dynamic in 2020.

Then there’s Biden, who would likewise start with obvious strength. Though not as exciting to true believers as Bernie, he’d be a comfortable choice, benefiting from an aura of deep experience, reliability, and gravitas, especially in contrast to all the newbies. He would stand head-and-shoulders above them.

If either of those two doesn’t run, the other will have a huge advantage. If both run, it will probably really be a battle between them, with all the rest far behind.

Yes, both Sanders and Biden are pushing 80, and yes, many voices cry out for fresh blood. And if there were a lone fresh novelty candidate, like Obama was in 2008, he or she would do very well. But, again, this time the freshness mantle is divided among a whole bunch, all vying for pretty much the same votes. Unless one can somehow decisively break out of the pack, none can compete with Sanders or Biden.

Meanwhile, this is not the time to push boundaries with a novelty candidate. We’re in a profound crisis. America (and the world) might be able to recover after four years of this depravity, but not eight. For all his stupendous rottenness, Trump will be a tough, unscrupulous, vicious opponent, helped again by Russian lies. Democrats will need every voter they can get, and cannot afford to turn any off.


And surely many will be turned off by a dour old Brooklyn Jew with the word “socialist” a giant albatross hanging around his neck. There’s a fantasy on the left that if they just properly explain socialism to Americans, they’ll hop on board. What a laugh. (George Lakoff, a leftist academic author from Berkeley, explains that it just doesn’t work that way.) Bernie would win Berkeley, Beverly Hills, and Boston; but not America.

(And please, no third party candidate to split the vote against Trump. This means you, Schultz. Whatever you’ve got, bring it to the Democratic primaries.)

A lot of people voted for Trump because they wanted a disruptor. After four years of that, some at least will want a return to normalcy. No more taking chances or flying leaps. Instead, a tried-and-true “safe pair of hands.” That still counts for a lot. It’s forgotten now, but Obama actually won in November 2008 because more people saw him as the sober, serious, capable man.

Do I have to spell it out any further?

3 Responses to “Handicapping 2020”

  1. Lee Says:

    Or Schultz could go Republican and challenge Trump there, but I agree that a third-party run would be bad for America.

  2. Lee Says:

    In modern times at least, those who lose the general election do not run again in later years (so that would nix Clinton) but those who lose in the primaries frequently do try again — so that would allow Sanders except that he’d be 79 when he took office. Biden would be 78 when he took office. Donald Trump would be 74 at the start of a second term.

    Obama was separated from the pack by his 2004 speech at the Democratic National convention. This year, Stacey Abrams will deliver the rebuttal to the State of the Union. If she does well, that may distinguish her among Democrats. She would be a very reasonable 47 at the time she took office.

  3. ryan71 Says:

    It would be an interesting ticket with Klobuchar, a centrist and Biden as a binder.
    The debate would be interesting with a female prosecutor and president.

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