Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2020 Power Rankings

Now that the midterms have clarified somewhat, the post-Trump electorate has come into focus for Democrats. Traditional voting blocs remain intact, but some grew. Black support was back to Obama-level excitement and Latinos came out in the largest number ever. Those were incremental changes compared to women, who became an enormous bloc in the party in 2018. The key voter in 2020 isn’t going to be a sour middle-aged white dude in the sticks, but a college-educated mom (not necessarily white) in the suburbs. The entire election will be fought over this voter, which until 2016 leaned enough toward Republicans (based on married, particularly religious, women) for them to hang onto tiny margins of victory in key districts. If those voters swing toward Dems, they solidify former Trump states in the upper Midwest and put sun-belt states in play.

The winning Dem nominee will need to appeal to a diverse electorate and particularly suburban women. Young voters may play an outsize role in the primaries, and their issues overlap substantially with suburban women (gun control, health care, civil liberties). Leftward-tilting candidates will do better than centrists, but only those who make these issues seem normal, not radical. There will be so many candidates that charisma and experience will matter. Trump will dominate everything, but among Dems the winner will need to articulate a strong vision for the future (in a way Hillary did not). I suspect the candidate who signals stable normalcy along with inspiring, forward-looking policy ideas will win.

And with that, my own power rankings in the first week after the midterms. This is the order in which I think things would play out if the election were held today. The top tier are so close as to be tied. The second tier are very competitive but have one barrier (name recognition, age, etc) to address. Third tier could be strong candidates but have something even more substantial to overcome. I think the chances Hillary runs are less than 5% and she would almost certainly lose, but her machine, fundraising, and name-recognition can’t be overlooked. Biden is similar, but he’s older, has the Anita Hill baggage, and is his usual gaffe-machine. It will be fun to see how this list changes.

First Tier
1. Elizabeth Warren
2. Cory Booker
3. Kamala Harris

Second Tier
4. Bernie Sanders
5. Sherrod Brown
6. John Hickenlooper

Third Tier
7. Mitch Landrieu
8. Beto O’Rourke
9. Martin O’Malley
10. Amy Klobuchar
11. Joe Biden
12. Kirsten Gillibrand
13. Deval Patrick

Dark Horses
14. Eric Garcetti
15. Julián Castro
16. Jeff Merkley
17. Jay Inslee
18. Joe Kennedy
19. Seth Moulton
20. Stacey Abrams

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