Four minutes, four candidates. Here’s why each of the front-runners could win.
There is two weeks to go before the Iowa Caucuses and the race is as open as ever.
Four years ago our conventional understanding about what makes a successful candidate was challenged. The most qualified candidate to ever run for the Presidency was defeated by the first candidate never to have held political office or have any military experience (bone spurs, of course).
Perhaps the only silver lining of the Democrats’ defeat is that the closeness of the result has produced a fairly clear path the victory this time. Chiefly, through Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Similarly, gains in the 2018 mid-terms and 2019 off-year elections have highlighted potential positive mid-long terms shifts in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and even Texas.
One thing is for certain, though. Beating Donald Trump is the most important thing a candidate can do. Yet despite this, with only two weeks before the Iowa Caucuses, the race is as open as it has ever been. For some candidates, a defeat in Iowa could effectively rule them out of the nomination for good; for others, they might be able to weather that particular storm. Below is a roughly one minute pitch on why each of the four front-runners could, at this stage, become President.
Everywhere you look Joe Biden is strong, in fact, he is the strongest in the field. He has led in the polls since before he ever announced, and has not once relinquished his grip as the leader. ‘Scranton Joe’ is a laboratory-made man who appeals to those white, working-class, typically male voters in the mid-west. Those who felt the party has abandoned them. In Wisconsin, 2016’s tipping point state, Biden consistently leads Trump, by a lot. You see a similar picture in Michigan and Pennsylvania. He has the clearest, most convincing path the victory.
But it is much more than that, Biden’s depth of support is matched by its breadth. Amongst African American voters Biden is the unequivocal favourite with nearly one in two saying they support him. That likely means the South Carolina primary is sewn up. In North Carolina also, where 22% of voters are African American, or Georgia, which has the largest portion of African American voters of any swing(ing) state, 31%, Democrats surely want a candidate best able to appeal to these voters?
It is not by accident that Biden is able to appeal to these two large demographic groups so key to Democrat success. While others might tug at the edges of one, Biden commands control of both.
The only place Biden isn’t popular is on twitter. On there, he gets berated — too slow to react, too slow to adapt. What are his big ideas and how will he inspire those to vote for him so he can enact those ideas? The difficult pill for a lot of people to swallow is, it doesn’t matter what they say. The former Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former Vice President cannot be reduced to 280 characters. He is ready to lead the country.
Biden lacks the agility, Bernie is a socialist, and Mayor Pete is so far down the list Donald Trump hasn’t even come up with a nickname for him yet. There is one candidate who has been in Trump’s cross hairs for years and has come out the other side. If you a want a President with stamina, grit, determination, and resilience; a candidate with positivity, authenticity, intelligence, and experience, then I have a plan for that. Her name is Elizabeth Warren.
Much of Warren’s appeal lies in her ability to unite. She has ambitious, transformational ideas, but without the damage that being a socialist could bring. It goes beyond the party as well. Warren’s story of her Republican supporting brothers in Oklahoma will resonate with voters. Blue, red, male, female, young, old, urban, rural — Warren speaks the universal language of fairness. Donald Trump won through speaking of a rigged system; only Warren has the antidote to it.
Unity is great, well thought-out policy positions are also great, but what about winning? She’s a Senator from bluer than blue Massachusetts, can she really get Trump voters? As last week showed, she has the political nous as well. It’s probable that her team leaked the memo regarding Sanders’ comment about a female president. Mastering underhand tactics while presenting a unified front was something two-term winning President Obama was superb at as well.
Some politicians build a campaign, others begin a movement.
One of the criticisms Bernie has is that he is too old. It’s true that his career spans decades, much of it spent in Congress. But unlike Biden, Sanders doesn’t stop in the Senate. He works in the streets. Protesting, campaigning, organising, and doing. Hillary Clinton might say no one in Congress likes Sanders, but millions more love him.
Sanders s is also a seasoned politician, with the infrastructure, organisation, and not to mention money, already in place. Him and his team know what it’s like to get people out caucusing in freezing cold, dark Iowa nights; they did it four years ago. Sanders can win Iowa, he can win New Hampshire too, if he goes onto Nevada — where he is within touching distance of Biden — with two wins already to his name, Sanders will have near unstoppable momentum.
Moreover, Sanders’ career is peaking at the right time. Throughout the 80s and 90s he was an unknown Independent from Vermont, but for six years Sanders has been campaigning at full tilt, and look how effective it has been. Hitherto unheard of policy platforms are now part of mainstream conversation. If that’s what Sanders can do the Democrat party in six years, imagine what he can do for the country in eight? If you want someone who has no fear about taking on Trump, I’d pick the guy who “doesn’t tolerate bullshit”.
Every now and again, a special candidate appears. A candidate, who on the face of it, shouldn’t even be part of this conversation. A 38 year old, small town mayor, on the same stage as Senators and a Vice President? Ridiculous.
But in his short time in the spot-light, this gay veteran, who speaks eight languages, plays the piano, adopts rescue dogs, worships God, and is a Rhodes Scholar has developed into the most anti-Trump candidate you can imagine. Mayor Pete is aligned to the party’s mood music at the moment, his moderate lane position was essential to the party’s greatest successes in the last two years. Whether that’s Democrats taking control of Mike Pence’s hometown, or the legislature in Virginia, or the Governorship in Kentucky, Buttigieg ca be part of this movement, giving Democrats the biggest prize of all.
An Iowa bounce is most important when the expectations are lowest, just ask Barack Obama. If Pete can do what some polls have indicated and win in Iowa, that is more powerful than a victory for any of his rivals. It’ll boost the least known front-runner right into the national psyche, and people will like what they see.
One of the motives behind putting this piece together was the demonstrate just how strong all four front-runners are in their own right. Klobuchar, falling just behind, is also excellent, and earned the co-endorsement of the New York Times. Andrew Yang brings a uniqueness to the race, I suspect ideas like Universal Basic Income will become more common in our political conversations over the coming years. Not to mention Harris, Booker, and Castro — superb candidates whose reputations have been enhanced despite their campaigns ending in defeat.
The is worry and concern amongst Democrat supporters is understandable Especially as we get closer to actually costing votes, there’s a huge pressure to get this ‘right’, and by ‘right’, we all mean ‘beat Donald Trump’. Every single one of the potential candidates will have a fight on their hands, probably an unfair fight at that, too. But if the party does decide to unite around the eventual nominee, they will be in a much stronger position.