Whoever the Democrats run as president in 2020 will represent the Party and the Party platform far more than is usual, mainly because there is so much unity among Democrats when it comes to platform issues—no matter what the mainstream media says.
On every issue on which the mainstream media says there is disagreement—be it minimum wage, healthcare or immigration—all Democrats are at a position extremely to the left of Republicans and relatively close to each other. All want a dramatic increase in the minimum wage. All will return to a foreign policy built on negotiating treaties and acting in unison with our allies. All will open the borders to refugees and end the crackdown on immigrants. They all will increase the federal government’s hand in healthcare and rollback the Trump rollbacks of Obama regulations. All will want to increase incentives to use solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. Every Democrat will nominate pro-abortion judges. Under each and every Democrat, a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress will lead to tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.
Thus, to select a 2020 Democratic candidate because of his or her stand on the issues is foolish. There are not the stark contrasts between potential candidates, as there were between Gerry Ford and Ronald Reagan in 1976, or between Edward Kennedy and Jimmy Carter in 1980. It’s more like the Republicans in 2016, when everyone running agreed on every issue with the eventual nominee.
With issues out of the consideration, Democrats should nominate the most electable candidate. While some, especially believers in Beto O’Rourke’s “magic,” would define electability entirely in terms of charisma, I prefer to look at the electoral map, which as we know favors the GOP because it gives a greater say to smaller, more rural states. Even though 21st century Democrats have enjoyed a huge advantage in the popular vote for president, winning four out of five times, the electoral advantage Republicans hold have led to their winning three of five elections.
Current political divides leave the election in the hands of a handful of states with 93 votes in the Electoral College, all of which went for Trump in extremely tight races in 2016: Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10). At the very least, the Democrats have to figure out a way to turn 39 of these 93 electoral votes.
Luckily, the good citizens of Florida almost assuredly just gave Democrats 29 of the 37 electoral votes they need by voting to allow Sunshine State ex-cons who have served their time to vote. That move has the potential to add 1.3 million people to the Florida voting rolls in 2020, most of whom are predicted to vote a straight Democratic Party line. Recent Florida elections have seen razor thin margins, meaning that the vote to give rehabilitated felons the vote should turn Florida a deep shade of blue.
With Florida’s 29 electoral votes in the Democratic column, all Democrats have to do is turn one other of these swing state. One of the surest ways to get a swing state to vote for a candidate is if the candidate calls that state home. Since 1920, there have been 30 presidential elections. Win or lose, 45 of the candidates (75%), won their home state and 15 (25%) lost their home state. In four of the elections, 1920, 1940, 1944 and 2016, both major party candidates came from the same state. If we net out those elections, candidates win their home state almost 80% of the time (41 candidates out of 52).
The male candidates currently under discussion include Corey Booker, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Martin O’Malley, Eric Holder, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Murphy and Sherrod Brown. Only one of these men resides in one of the key swing states, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a likeable guy, a long-time liberal, friend of labor and admired by both the centrist and the leftist wings of the Democratic Party.
Sherrod Brown is the safest bet if the Democratic Party decides to play the Electoral College game because running Brown for president almost guarantees winning Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, which when added to Florida’s give the Democrats the White House. The wild card, of course, is John Kasich, another Ohio favorite son. If Kasich heads the Republican ticket—a distinct possibility if Trump has resigned or been impeached and convicted—it would cancel out the home state effect.
Kasich aside, a Brown-Harris, Brown-Warren, Brown-Gillibrand or Brown-Klobuchar ticket would be nearly ideal: It starts with a distinct electoral edge. It sends competent, deeply experienced and likeable progressives to the White House. And it readies the American people to elect a woman in 2024 or 2028
But really, any of the men on the above list except Beto O’Rourke would be fine to lead the 2020 Democratic ticket. To these names I would like to add Gavin Newsom, Jay Inslee and Phil Murphy. The Democrats do indeed have a deep bench ready to steer the country away from the disastrous economic, tax, foreign, environmental, educational and energy policies of the current administration.