One year out from the influential Iowa Caucus, a new poll found that Democrats want their 2020 candidate to run on a more left-wing platform while also reaching across the aisle to Republicans. Who, if anyone, fits the bill?
For both parties, the Iowa Caucuses mark the beginning of primary season, and are a chance for candidates to establish an early lead. Rather than predicting who will go on to secure their party’s nomination, the caucuses are a better indicator of who won’t. Almost every candidate who polls badly in Iowa pulls out of the race within days.
The Iowa Caucus is still a year away, but a new poll by Emerson College gives some idea what Democratic voters will look for in their 2020 candidate.
Although seemingly a forgotten word in the age of Trump and the #Resistance, ‘bipartisanship’ is still key. A whopping 86 percent of likely Democratic Caucus-goers want a candidate who will work with Republican adversaries once in power, and compromise to get things done.
Large numbers of voters also want their ideal Democrat to promise policies that were once only espoused by progressives like perennial socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. 73 percent support ‘Medicare for All’, an ambitious healthcare program first promoted by the Vermont senator. 73 percent also support hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour and implementing an assault-weapons ban.
Moreover, almost half of likely voters support a ‘Green New Deal’ plan to end America’s reliance on fossil fuels by 2030 as well as to fight income inequality. Pushed by hotshot socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal would give the government more powers of regulation, wealth redistribution, and intervention in the private sector to achieve this aim.
Among a crowded field of candidates, who can deliver radical left-wing policies and work with Republicans at the same time?
Rise of the leftists
Candidates like Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker have entered the 2020 race pushing platforms more liberal than anything the party has dared espouse before. All three have (at least at some point) endorsed Medicare for All; all support tax hikes for the wealthy; and all support enacting a Green New Deal. All support tougher gun control measures, and all have spoken in favor of a $15 minimum wage.
If the rumors prove correct and Bernie Sanders enters the race, his platform will be a similar one.
However, voters looking for bipartisanship might want to look elsewhere. Harris, Warren and Booker have all emerged as some of the loudest critics of President Trump, and none have voted in line with Trump more than 17 percent of the time. Since Trump took office, Warren has voted against the president 87 percent of the time.
The moderate alternative
The Democratic party’s leftward shift has reportedly worried more moderate contenders. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe are having second thoughts about entering the 2020 race, Axios reported. Former Vice President Joe Biden is also reportedly being advised to hold off on announcing his candidacy, as more leftist candidates enter the field.
Biden, McAuliffe and Bloomberg represent a different Democratic party than Booker, Warren and Harris. Bloomberg has championed gun control but defended the wealthy. McAuliffe has also supported gun control, abortion rights and renewable energy, but has dismissed socialist-tinged proposals like ‘Medicare for All’ and the ‘Green New Deal’ as unrealistic. Biden has been a vocal critic of President Trump, but his willingness to work with Republicans may not sit well with hardline progressives.
However, even as Iowa voters demand more progressive policies, Biden topped the Emerson poll as Democrats’ preferred candidate. 29 percent of Democrats favor the former VP, with Harris polling second at 18 percent. Sanders and Warren trail in third and fourth with 15 and 11 percent respectively, while Booker comes in sixth, with four percent.
Biden’s record is as centrist and white-collar as they come, and is unlikely to appeal to young voters who increasingly favor socialism over capitalism and resistance over cooperation. He is, however, the candidate most likely to appeal to older voters who long for a return to bipartisanship.
“I read in the New York Times today that one of my problems if I were to run for president, I like Republicans. OK, well, bless me father for I have sinned,” he told the US Conference of Mayors last month. “I don’t know how you get anything done unless we start talking to one another again.”
Removing Trump at any cost
Among voters from both parties, only Biden showed a chance of beating Trump in Emerson’s poll. And, with the schism between progressive and centrist Democrats widening, more and more voters will settle for ‘beating Trump’ as their only criterion heading into 2020.
A Monmouth University poll published Monday found that 56 percent of Democrats will vote for a candidate they think can unseat the president, regardless of that candidate’s values. This result marked a departure from previous campaigns, where only 16 percent of Democrats prioritized “electability.”
However, “electability” is an ill-defined term, and pundits touting safety in centrism would do well to remember 2016. As the Democratic National Convention drew closer, Bernie Sanders hit new highs in the polls, while Clinton’s popularity tanked to a two-decade low.
Nevertheless, the DNC considered Clinton the safe option. The result was historic, but could well repeat itself if the party doesn’t find its values in 2020.
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