If you’re a Democrat, you’re not exactly at a want for choice when it comes to 2020 presidential candidates. Just this week, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper became what felt like the 2,163rd Democrat to enter the race, citing a “crisis of division.”
(I’ll give you a few minutes to Google him since I’m going to assume that most of you who aren’t Coloradans haven’t really heard of the guy.)
For all of the choice involved, however, it feels a little bit like the soda aisle in your local grocery store: There may be dozens of choices, but you’re probably walking out with Coke or Pepsi. In this case, Coke and Pepsi are Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. (Sanders would be Coke because he’s red, get it? Oh ho ho. I’ll be here all week.)
A recent poll about the Democratic field surveyed voters in South Carolina, one of the first primary states.
According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, even though Biden hasn’t entered the race yet, he was first, with support of 36 percent of those polled. Sanders came in second with 14 percent, followed by Sens. Kamala Harris of California with 13 percent and Cory Booker of New Jersey with 10 percent.
At least the Palmetto State survey, taken from Feb. 15-18, showed other candidates closer to Sanders than other polls do. A RealClearPolitics polling average from Feb. 24 had Biden at 28.8 percent, Sanders in second at 19.8 percent, and Harris a distant third with 11.5 percent. Now, granted, at this point in 2015 we were all wondering whether anyone could possibly beat Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination, but the polls have been pretty constant in showing Biden and Sanders as a solid 1-2.
That’s a big problem for Democrats, because another poll shows America doesn’t want either of them.
Well, OK — the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll didn’t say voters didn’t want Biden or Sanders specifically. However, it did find Americans don’t find an old or socialist president to be “desirable.”
“Only 25 percent of respondents ranked ‘socialist’ as a desirable trait for a candidate,” Bloomberg reported Sunday.
“Only 37 percent said ‘someone over 75’ was desirable, according to the survey, released on Sunday. More voters were accepting of candidates who were gay or lesbian, independent or under 40.
“The poll comes as Democrats line up for a chance to take on Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The survey suggests that 41 percent of voters would definitely or probably vote for Trump in 2020, against 48 percent who said they would vote for the Democratic candidate.”
However, the two top Democratic candidates aren’t necessarily checking all the boxes for prospective voters.
Biden is 76, four years older than Trump. He’s also a man with significant political mileage on the odometer, shall we say. At least he’s not red, though. That can’t be said for Sanders, who’s both 77 and probably America’s best-known socialist.
Democratic voters, meanwhile, told the NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters that they wanted a candidate with “policies that could bring major change over one suggesting less change” by 55 to 42 percent.
That number, again, shouldn’t be a pleasant augury for those who simply want a Democrat in the White House at any cost.
The “major change” part of the Democrat grid seems to have coalesced either around our socialist friend Bernie or other candidates proposing policies that won’t work in the general election.
Take Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of New Jersey, both of whom have made reparations for slavery and Jim Crow a major talking point for their campaigns. That’s certainly a major change. It’s also one that voters at large don’t really like.
While there’s not much polling on the issue, a 2016 Marist poll found that only 26 percent of Americans supported reparations for the descendants of slaves while 68 percent were against it. A 2014 YouGov poll found that only 15 percent supported reparations while, again, 68 percent were against it.
Whether or not Biden or Sanders will embrace reparations is only a matter of speculation. Sanders recently came out against it (“There are better ways to do that than just writing out a check,” he said during an appearance on “The View“) but the Vermont senator has never been one to be outflanked on liberalism and if the policy becomes popular enough among primary voters, one can see him moving toward something kind of sort of resembling reparations.
As for Biden, it’s become clear that if he does eventually enter the race, he’s going to have to run to the left of his normal establishment persona, at least in the primary stages. While the former vice president was never the type to embrace something so left-field as reparations during the rest of his career, who knows now? And that’s the problem.
These are both guys who aren’t going to register well with voters at large. Both of them are old, one of them is socialist and the other one could take a dramatic turn to the left — which is exactly what the party faithful would want. Yet voters at large seem to find this undesirable.
You can almost see the disaster happening in slow motion, the iceberg looming in the distance for the Democrats. And, at least as of yet, nobody on that side of the aisle seems to want to change course.
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