Whom Will Democrats Nominate in 2020?
Difficult as it may be to believe, the 2020 election is right around the corner. Candidates began announcing they were running for the 2016 election in the first few months of 2015, so expect candidates for the upcoming presidential election to announce they are running in early 2019.
The Republican primaries are likely to be uneventful. Donald Trump remains popular among Republicans, so any NeverTrump who runs against him in the primaries won't pose much of a threat. The Democratic primaries are another matter. After Hillary Clinton's defeat in the last election, the Democratic Party has been leaderless, and a definitive frontrunner is yet to emerge. As of right now, the four most likely candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2020 are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
Biden is the most popular of all the potential candidates and would pose the most serious threat to Trump. Biden could win back the white working class for the Democrats, and the fact that he was vice president under Barack Obama would help him greatly in both the primaries and the general election, since Obama is still very popular among Democrats. Biden was mentioned as a possible candidate in the 2016 election but announced in October 2015 that he would not run. Perhaps he didn't want to divide the establishment wing of the Democratic Party so Clinton would more easily gain the nomination. With her having lost in 2016 and presumably out of the picture for 2020, maybe Biden will see himself as the logical successor to the establishment Democratic banner and run.
However, he may not receive the nomination. Biden is a white male in a party that increasingly despises white males and wants to see more diversity in its leadership. Biden is notorious for his tendency to put his foot in his mouth. When running for president in 2007, he said of his future running mate, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." When campaigning for Obama in 2012, he told a mostly black audience that if Mitt Romney was elected, he would "put y'all back in chains." He also said, "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent." When running for president in 1987, he plagiarized a speech from British Labor politician Neil Kinnock, which among other plagiarism revelations led him to drop out of the race. Biden also has an unfortunate habit of putting his hands on little girls, which has been caught on camera numerous times. Should he run, Republicans would never stop broadcasting these clips to the public and reminding voters of Biden's peculiar habits. And Democrats might not want to nominate Biden in the age of #MeToo.
Sanders is widely popular, especially with young voters. However, polls show that most Americans are not willing to vote for a socialist. And he is not universally admired by Democrats. Many Clinton-supporters blame Sanders for splitting the Democrats in the 2016 primaries. Sanders-supporters believed (correctly as it turned out) that the primaries were rigged against him, and many were dismayed by his endorsement of Clinton, believing that it was a betrayal of his "political revolution." Some Sanders-supporters refused to vote for Clinton, instead voting for Trump, voting for a third-party candidate, or not voting at all. If Sanders hadn't run, Clinton-supporters say, Democrats would have been more united in 2016 and would have defeated Trump. Many Democrats also criticize Sanders for focusing too much on class and not enough on race, sex, or other fashionable progressive causes. And he is a white male, the worst thing one could possibly be in the eyes of the left.
Warren is also popular, especially among progressive women. However, she is unappealing and has no charisma, much like Clinton. Her appeal and popularity are limited to Democrats, and the Democratic nominee will need independents to defeat Trump in 2020. She may not motivate nonwhite voters, especially black voters, to come to the polls, as was the case with Clinton in 2016. Warren is a woman, and Democrats are eager to have a female president, but she is also white, so she may not be diverse enough. Her race may be an issue in another regard. Warren, who is originally from Oklahoma, long claimed to have American Indian ancestry. This was later found to be in vigorous dispute, at the very least. A party that prides itself on diversity and opposing racism nominating a white person who falsely claimed to be nonwhite is, to use the Democrats' own terminology, problematic.
In my opinion, the person most likely to be the Democratic nominee in 2020 is Kamala Harris, a senator from California. She is a progressive woman "of color" and is therefore perfect to represent the new generation of Democrats. In contrast to Biden, Sanders, and Warren, all of whom will be in their 70s on November 3, 2020, Harris is young. Her father is an immigrant from Jamaica, and her mother is an immigrant from India, so the media could portray her as the female Obama. In fact, there are many similarities between Harris and Obama. Both are half-black, both spent much of their childhood outside the country (Obama in Indonesia and Harris in Canada), and both are senators from heavily blue states. Should Harris run, she, like Obama, will face challenges from white establishment Democrats.
Of course, Harris has flaws. Unlike Obama, she is not very charismatic or well spoken and isn't as well known as the other possible candidates. Harris's conduct during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings was frankly embarrassing, but that might be a plus for Democrats. She blatantly misrepresented Kavanaugh's views on birth control and dismissively referred to his pocket Constitution as "that book you carry."
The Democratic nominee in 2020 will almost certainly be a woman. We had our first black president, then we almost had our first female president. Democrats felt that it was time for a woman in the White House, and they are determined to have one. There is a very good chance that the Democratic nominee will also be nonwhite. The party seems to be turning against white people. For the first time, white males are a minority of Democratic nominees for the House. There is a clear pattern of nonwhites defeating white candidates, both male and female, in Democratic primaries this year. Stacey Abrams, a black woman, defeated Stacey Evans, a white woman, in the Democratic primary for governor of Georgia. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Hispanic woman, defeated Joe Crowley, a white man, in the Democratic primary for New York's 14th Congressional District. Andrew Gillum, a black man, defeated Gwen Graham, a white woman, in the Democratic primary for governor of Florida. Ayanna Pressley, a black woman, defeated Michael Capuano, a white man, in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts's 7th Congressional District. It seems that this is the direction the Democratic party is going in, and it will continue to go in this direction during the presidential primaries.
Thomas O'Malley can be contacted at email@example.com.