I tell myself that I can’t hold out forever, I say there is no reason for my fear REO Speedwagon
Full Disclosure: Since the day this mondo primary season started, I promised myself as well as everybody else here that I wouldn’t even think about endorsing or favoring anybody until after at least the second debate. I wanted to watch all of them in action, compare ideas and their “ring generalship,” and then maybe start to hone in on one. I did that.
Going into the second debates in July, I was torn between Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Personally, I thought that Harris folded badly under pressure in the second debate, and wrote about it, and apparently I wasn’t the only one, her support has dropped by 12 points in a single month, but Warren continues to flourish. She has a plan for everything, she’s willing to go into red states to preach the gospel, and she even has detailed plans for little thought of minorities, like native Americans, that can turn out to be key constituencies in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Also, I love the fact that she’s the only happy warrior out there right now. When somebody enjoys doing something so obviously, you tend to enjoy watching them do it, it’s contagious. So I settled on Elizabeth Warren, and will support her.
That being said, it may not make much difference. After seeing the CNN polling yesterday, I’ve been forced to come to the conclusion that this race is Joe Biden’s to lose. No, I’m not saying that Biden will be the nominee, if you’re s old as I am, you’ve seen Joe trip over his own shoelaces at the quarter pole before. But as I wrote previously, the 2020 primaries are indeed playing out like the 2016 primaries did on the GOP side, but in 2020, Biden has an even bigger edge going for him. I’ll explain, hopefully without repeating myself too much.
In 2016, the “mainstream” GOP had a fighting chance. Donald Trump had the racist, ranting, right wing loonie lane all to himself. But there were still 16 mainstream GOP candidates in the race, and Trump was only at 32%. When Scott Walker exited the race in late fall of 2015, he begged the rest of the field to follow suit, leaving one mainstream candidate for the party to coalesce behind, to take on Trump. Had the party rallied around a Kasich, or Rubio, or Bush, that one candidate could have climbed the polls to challenge Trump. But ala, they all thought that they were the chosen one, and the chance passed them by.
In 2020, the race has already settled. There is a top tier, with Joe Biden, a second tier, with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and a third tier with everybody else. Joe Biden owns the centrist, middle of the road lane in the Democratic primaries. Oh sure, there are others in the lane, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Beto O’Rourke. But all of them are currently at 2-3%! Even if everybody else in the third tier left the race to allow one candidate to take control, that would still leave the survivor 8-10 points behind Biden, and where do they find the support to make up the difference? Biden would have to slip for them to get any closer.
Here’s where Biden is in a stronger position than Trump was in 2016. There is another strong, vibrant lane in the democratic primaries this year, and that is the progressive, further left lane. That lane has two viable candidates, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, in basically a dead heat at 15% each. But where do they find room to grow? Let’s say, Harris, or Booker, or Buttigieg falls to the wayside, their support likely goes to Biden, not Warren or Sanders. If they were that progressive, they’d likely already be a Sanders or Warren supporter, not one of those other candidates. You want to take on Biden? If Warren drops out, then Sanders is within the margin of error against Biden. Likewise, if Sanders drops out, then Warren is right there with Biden. but there is no reason or incentive for either one of them to do so. And even if they do, those third tier voters tend to go Biden’s way then the candidates drop out.
Here’s the thing in the latest CNN poll that tells me even more strongly that the race is Biden’s to lose. In the poll, when you broke it down into categories, the “liberal” voting bloc was incredibly evenly split, something like 23% for Warren, 22% for Sanders, and 21% for Biden. That is great news for Biden. Because he doesn’t have to win the progressive vote, he just can’t bet slaughtered in the category. And that’s because in the “moderate” category, and among older voters, Biden is leaning up like he’s at a craps table in one of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos. And Biden’s support among the African American community still seems rock solid. Even when Kamala Harris rocked Biden on his coziness with segregationist Democratic senators, and his views on forced busing, the black community just shrugged that off, which I’m sure was a terrible shock to Harris. African American voters, especially older ones, who form the base, already know Biden’s civil rights record, and they’re comfortable with him.
As I said at the top, Biden ain’t in like Flynn yet, but it’s his race to lose. The primaries can change everything quickly. Here’s my dark horse, Kamala Harris. In 2008, the African American vote was firmly in the grasp of Hillary Clinton. But when Barack Obama shocked Clinton in Iowa, they suddenly said, “Hey! This guy is for real!” and the tide turned. If Harris can pull a similar shocker in either Iowa or New Hampshire, Biden’s support in the black community could shrink. But even if Warren or Sanders surprises Biden in Iowa or New Hampshire, I still don’t see either the moderate voters or the African American voters deserting him. As long as both Warren and Sanders are in the race, Biden stays 10+ points ahead, and the longer either one of them waits to get out, the more delegates Biden banks early, and the harder it becomes for the survivor to catch him. Because, above all else, I honestly believe that the Democratic base wants this over with early, and turn to the task of getting Trump out of the White Houses. Don’t touch that dial.