Taking Stock of the 2020 Democratic Canidates

So I opined on impeachment last week (and I have to say, it feels much more urgent and possible this week), and in the midst of the inquiry the Democrats have another debate. Seems like a good time to take stock of the 2020 candidates.

More than anything, I just want to note my thoughts and moods at this moment in time.

In general, I don’t follow the horse race that closely. I don’t watch the debates, but I do pay attention to where things are at. I’ve had my eye on a few candidates, but I haven’t felt ready to jump in with support yet. The overwhelming number of candidates feels ridiculous (sheesh, go run for Senate!), but I do feel like there are plenty of contenders here that could win and I’d be happy to support.

So in no particular order (ha!), let’s talk about the candidates:

  • Joe Biden – I was never that excited by Biden as vice president, and less excited by him as president. His gaffes are embarrassing and I think age is a problem. Of course against Trump, a lot of that is neutralized. They’re both old and say dumb things. I think Biden can win, and I’d vote for him, but I wouldn’t be super excited about it.
  • Bernie Sanders – I get the populist appeal of Sanders and I like some of his ideas. But I’ve never seen him do a good job of responding to critics on socialism and that should be an easy answer. I think his liberal policies makes moderates nervous, and that’s unfortunate because it often feels like a communication error. I don’t know how Sanders would bring people together to get anything done. He seems better suited as the gadfly who pushes from the edges, I’m not sure how well he could build coalitions and lead. Versus Trump it’d be a battle of the extremes, and while I think he could win, it’d be scary close. I don’t think I’d be that excited supporting Sanders. And could he stop with the yelling?
  • Elizabeth Warren – I like her. She has plans for everything, and while that didn’t help Hillary Clinton much, I like a smart politician. She feels like a more palpable Sanders. She’s not quite as left-leaning, and I think she does a better job communicating her issues and connecting with voters. But she is pretty far left, and I think that’s a challenge. I think she can beat Trump and I could get on board with her campaign.
  • Pete Buttigieg – I like him. Every time I see him speak, he’s smart and fresh. I think he’s able to connect with a wide range of voters and he’s been able to develop a gravitas that you wouldn’t expect from a mayor of a small Midwestern city. Being a veteran helps. I also like his more moderate policies. I go back and forth on this, but sometimes I think coming at change more slowly can be more effective. The downsides for Buttigieg are the lack of experience (mayor of a town of 100,000 to president of 327 million is a big jump) and the lack of support among people of color. I don’t think the experience is that big of an issue, but the POC support is a concern. Buttigieg keeps bungling minority issues, and that’s not good. I think he could beat Trump handily, though people will sweat about it right to the end. I could easily get excited to support Mayor Pete.
  • Amy Klobuchar – Ah, the hometown hero. As my Minnesota Senator, she’s got a special place in my heart. Also, super awkward. Her attempts at campaign trail humor make me cringe. But I do like her policies. I think her moderate approach would destroy Trump. I can see a lot of independents and even Republicans voting for her. I like her argument that we need to win big and I think she could. Unfortunately, she’s not getting a lot of traction. She also has a minority problem. I’ve already been excited about Klobuchar, but at this point I think she’s a long shot.
  • Kamala Harris – I could get behind her. I’m not as well versed in her specific policy positions, and it seems like she’s losing ground. The thought of Trump going toe-to-toe with a black woman is kind of hilarious though. I think she’s tough and can make a strong case. I can see getting excited for her, but I just don’t think it’s her year.
  • Cory Booker – I like him. He has this vision of bringing the country together, and I think that’s laudable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel specific enough. I could get excited about him and support him, but I don’t seem him lasting much longer.
  • Julian Castro – I really like him and his story. I think he has some good ideas and policies, but he’s not getting traction either. It’d be great to see Trump beaten by a Latino, but I just don’t see the support coming together.
  • Andrew Yang – I like what he has to say about universal basic income, but he feels like a one-issue candidate. He’s here to make the case for that concept, and he’s doing it well, but that’s all he’s got.
  • Tom Steyer – Nope. I’m not on board with billionaires who think they can just jump in. Spend your money on other races—and yeah, you can do both at once, but why waste your money on a presidential run that’s going to go nowhere. That’s money that could be going into down-ballot races all over the country. No thanks.
  • Tulsi Gabbard – Nope. She has so many weird positions I just don’t get. And she’s not winning any Democratic primary. This is another campaign that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Without Ranked Choice Voting, it’s crazy to have this many candidates on the ballot. It would really upend things if we were dealing with six candidates instead of 20. I don’t think Biden would be doing as well as he is in the polls if we had fewer choices. I think that’s one of the things that helped Trump win the Republican primary.

At this point I hope it’s Warren or Buttigieg. I’m not sure who I’ll vote for yet—it kind of depends on how things are stacking up.

(And let’s see how wrong I end up being!)

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