With the November Democratic Debate approaching, the wild race for the Democratic nomination will most likely take another unexpected twist. With that in mind, here are my four biggest takeaways from the race for the Democratic nomination.
Bernie Won – When announcing his decision to enter the 2015 – 2016 Democratic primary race, the Vermont Senator said his intention wasn’t to win the nomination but to “change the conversation”. While odds are he won’t win the Presidency or even the Democratic nomination, Sanders should treat the results of the Democratic primaries as a victory, no matter who the Democratic nominee ends up being. Since Sanders’ initial 2015 – 2016 run, Democrats have taken a hard shift left on a variety of issues. Nowadays, they debate over issues such as the decriminalization of illegal immigration, ending private insurance, and debt-free college — all issues touted and pioneered by Sanders. Moderate candidates are finding it increasingly harder to gain traction as the party has seemed to follow Sanders’ lead. Of the top 5 Democratic candidates, Sanders, Senators Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden is considered a moderate. Other moderates such as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Former Congressman John Delaney, and Governor Steve Bullock have looked irrelevant with all three polling at 2.0%, 0.2%, and 0.0%, respectively. Many of the views formerly touted by President Obama just half a decade ago look historic as the Democratic party, thanks to in large part Sanders, has taken a monumental progressive shift. Bernie won’t need to win the Presidency to see his views debated on the national stage; they already are being debated and odds are they will be addressed in the September and October 2020 Presidential debates, no matter who the candidates are. And for that, Bernie won — his run for the 2020 Democratic nomination is just his victory lap.
Primaries vs Presidency – As discussed before in the segment regarding Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party continues to shift left, as it seems each day Democratic nominees try to one-up each other on their progressive plans. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the only relevant candidate that has been reluctant to embrace this shift, is sticking to more moderate positions such as being against Medicare for All. However, it seems that he is being outgunned by the progressive wing of the party, as Elizabeth Warren starts to surge. If Elizabeth Warren ends up winning the nomination, it will be interesting to see how her policies hold up against Trump and the country. Much of the country, despite the polarization of politics in the media, continues to have more moderate stances on a variety of issues and their support may not necessarily be similar to the support Warren is currently receiving from the Democratic party.
Biden vs the Field? – One of the more recently developed storylines is one that is pushing the notion that Former Vice President Joe Biden has little to no chance of winning the Democratic nomination. They argue that Biden is essentially getting all the moderate votes, while candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are splitting votes from each other. Once more candidates start to drop out, they argue, votes originally going to drop out candidates will flow towards other progressive candidates such as Warren and Sanders and eventually leading to Biden losing out. And while they provide a sound argument, there is a body of evidence that suggests that Biden may not necessarily lose out as more candidates drop out. A recent poll found that among Sanders’ support, 26% said Biden was their second choice, followed by progressive Warren and Kamala Harris at 16% and 7%, respectively. (Warren supporters were not supported as receptive towards Biden with 25% selecting Biden as their second choice to Harris’ 14% and Biden’s 13%). Another thing to consider is that moderate Democrats are less likely to participate in polls than their more progressive, social media using counterparts, often skewing the results of these polls.
The New York Times did a great piece outlining how most of the Democratic electorate is not only less active in politics than those seen on social media but more moderate. As such, Biden may have a hidden majority similar to the one that supported President Trump in 2016. Regardless of whether Biden has a hidden majority or not or if Biden has meaningful second choice support, it is far too early to write off Biden, even if it seems like the total progressive vote shared by a plethora of candidates is more than the moderate vote that is almost single-handedly held by Biden.
The Big Three – As the October debate approaches, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with Former President Vice President have separated themselves from the field and look like the only realistic options to win the Democratic nomination. Biden, Warren, and Sanders are all polling at 27%, 26.8%, and 14.8%, respectively, according to Real Clear Politics. As for the rest of the field, other than Kamala Harris’ short-lived surge following the first Democratic debate, no candidate has gained much traction. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Harris are currently polling at 4th and 5th, but have garnered just 5.2% and 4.4% of the vote, respectively. As for now, current polling suggests, despite the vast amount of candidates technically still running, that the race for Democratic nomination is a three-person race between Biden, Warren, and Sanders, and while other candidates may continue to qualify for future debates, their chances of actually winning have diminished.