As speculation mounts over who, if anyone, can unseat US President Donald Trump in 2020, 73 percent of Democrats want their party to move away from the familiar candidates and run someone new.
Among likely Democrat voters, only 16 percent think the party should promote a candidate who has run before, like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, a Rasmussen poll found. A whopping 73 percent of those surveyed felt that the party needs new blood to challenge Trump.
While speculation over candidates will begin in earnest after this year’s midterm elections, some prominent figures have been positioning themselves for a bid at the presidency.
Considered a shoo-in in 2016, Hillary Clinton lost after running a tone-deaf campaign dogged by an ongoing FBI investigation and rumors of health problems. Despite a flurry of email communication from Clinton and a series of recent campaign-style speeches, rumors of a possible 2020 run have been dismissed by her former campaign strategist as a “pipe dream.”
According to Rasmussen, the Democratic party would do well to leave Clinton off the ticket. Only 22 percent of Democrat voters think Clinton has been good for the party, while 58 percent think she’s damaged its standing.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged from the ranks of the Democratic establishment as a possible 2020 contender. Days before departing the White House, Biden told reporters that he is “going to run in 2020,” but he later dismissed that statement, saying “I am not committed to anything.”
Since Trump’s inauguration, Biden has been a vocal critic of the president, and he reportedly intends to up his appearances on the campaign trail, supporting other Democrats in the runup to the midterms. A Harvard poll released in late June found that almost a third of registered Democrats would back the former VP for the party’s 2020 nomination, making him the front-runner by over 10 points.
Still, Biden has run for the presidency twice before, and he will be 77 years old when Americans go to the polls in 2020 – hardly the young blood the party needs. Likewise, his moderate positions and calls for bipartisanship are looking increasingly out of step with the party’s more militant progressive wing; and his notorious handsy-ness and ‘creepy uncle’ image might not sit well with millennial voters in the #MeToo era.
The shock primary victory of self-professed ‘Democratic Socialist’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York last month illustrated the growing divide within the party between progressives and the establishment, represented by Biden and Clinton.
Several progressive candidates, like Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kamala Harris (D-California) have also been drumming up support in the run-up to 2020, but the party leadership will have to ask itself whether it can get behind candidates who support policies so far left they would be unrecognizable to the party of John F. Kennedy or even Bill Clinton.
Surfing the wave of outrage over the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy, Warren and Harris have both called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while Booker has dodged the question in TV interviews.
While the social-justice rhetoric of all three candidates might please the anti-Trump #Resistance, it may not strike a chord with swing voters or with America’s white underclass, traditional Democrat voters who turned to Trump in 2016.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) remains probably the best-known and most palatable progressive in the party today, and came in second in June’s Harvard poll, behind Biden.
However, like Biden, he has run for president before. Time is even less on Sanders’ side too: the venerable socialist will be 79 by November 2020, and he might not withstand the rigors of a presidential campaign.
Whether the Democratic Party rallies behind a progressive, an establishment candidate, or a yet-unknown ace-in-the-hole outsider in 2020, their presidential hopeful may face an uphill battle. While President Trump’s approval ratings are mixed, unemployment is at a record low, wage growth is up, and the tax cuts have put some extra spending money into workers’ pockets, leaving the Democrats to hope that Trump somehow tanks the economy between now and November 2020.