As many know far too well by now, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election by around 2.87 million votes, a margin of victory over Donald Trump of 2.1%. And yet, our archaic and anti-democratic system of the Electoral College handed the White House to this loser (of the popular vote and in so many other ways too).
The number of votes that swung three swing states into Trump’s column, to give him the electoral win, was less than 80,000 votes combined. So, putting aside the polling that categorically shows Trump has lost a great deal of support and is underwater in all of those states right now, the challenge for the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee is to perform similarly to how Hillary Clinton did in 2016 but winning at least 80,000 more votes combined in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Hillary Clinton lost in Michigan by 10,704 votes out of a total of 4,824,260 votes cast. In Wisconsin, she lost by 22,748 votes out of a total of 2,976,150 votes. In Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton lost by 44,292 votes out of 6,166,708.
That means that adding a minuscule gain of .03% of total voters in Michigan and .08% in both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to Hillary’s 2016 totals would lead a Democratic candidate to beat Trump in the Electoral College and take the presidency. Less than 1% in each state…a fraction of how much more President Obama won in these states.
This is not a big hill to climb. Also, the voter suppression unleashed against Democratic voters in these swing states that the Republicans alongside The Russians employed in 2016 should be tempered by Democratic takeovers of the governorships in Michigan and Wisconsin (and a Dem governor who was already in PA), getting that fraction of votes should be more viable.
Yet…the Moderates in Democratic leadership, in the media punditry (along with the Never Trump Republicans who are quite generous with their advice about how the Democrats should adhere closer to more conservative positions) and those Moderates running for president insist that the only way to win against Trump is to go after the white, racist, wholly committed Trump voters.
Despite the easily obtainable data that shows that merely getting out a little more of the available Democratic vote from those who didn’t vote in 2016 would win them the presidency, these (mostly older and white) conservative/moderate Democrats, espouse that struggling to pry the white Trump cultists away from him is the only path to victory. “Appealing to
What does this say about these Moderates? On one hand, there are voters who are Democrats, many of whom are younger or African American, who would absolutely vote Democrat if they came out to vote. On the other hand, there are white, rural men who are committed to Trump and unlikely to abandon him to vote for a Democrat for president. Which group represents the easiest and most likely path to Democrats winning?
There’s no question that Moderate Dems want the Dems to win back the presidency. So faced with these options, why are they insisting that the worst option is the only path?
It’s hard to avoid the issue of race in this. What may be perceived by inference is that the valuable voters are white, even when they are diametrically opposed to what Democrats stand for and highly unlikely to vote for them. The message being sent is that chasing the votes of these adversarial white men is more worthwhile than reaching out to younger and African American voters who are already prepared to vote Democrat.
What may also be a factor is the leverage they may think it represents for Moderates, spreading their false meme as an absolute truth, enforcing the belief that only Moderates should be entitled to the nomination because they are the only ones who can appeal to white rural men whose votes are the ones that must be won to beat
Consider this observation from The Capital Times in Wisconsin after Trump won the state in the 2016 election:
Republican Donald Trump received about 27,000 more votes than Democrat Hillary Clinton. While his
performance didn’tstray far from Mitt Romney’s in 2012, Clinton’s fell significantlyshort of President Barack Obama’s.
Milwaukee County is an area that tends to see vacillation in turnout from
midterm togeneral elections, Burden said, but this year broke the mold.
Preliminary exit polls show that turnout dropped in particular among young voters and African-Americans, Burden said.
This was echoed in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well. It’s not that Trump won because he gained many more voters in 2016 than Romney did in 2012…it’s that the younger voters and African American voters didn’t turn out in the numbers they had in the previous presidential election. Yes, voter suppression contributed to this but so did voter discouragement. Hillary Clinton’s high negatives and lack of campaigning in these states, not generating voter enthusiasm, contributed substantially too. So why isn’t appealing to these Democrats the priority for Moderate Dems?
And are the Moderate Dems unaware that by being focused on praising and pandering to the “white working class”/”good people on both sides” crowd, they are insulting, taking for granted and alienating the very Democratic voters who are younger and African American that they need to actually win?
It does seem that there is an element of race in their chosen view that the path to the White House for the Democrat only goes through white rural neighborhoods.
In the debates and the campaign speeches of moderate Democrats including Joe Biden, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, etc., there are constant criticisms and dismissals of Progressive Democrats as being “coastal elites”, “leftist extremists” and “not reflective of the party”.
Democrats should be celebrating and energizing the youth vote, the African American vote and the Progressive vote. With these segments of Democrats joining moderates and all other Dems at the polling booth, Democrats will win as they did in 2018 and have done so in the past. However, taking these voters for granted in 2016 didn’t work out so well (Senator forced to turn pundit, Claire McCaskill of Missouri spends her time now on MSNBC dismissing Progressives and insisting that only a moderate who appeals to Trump voters can win…despite her attempting that very same strategy in her 2018 re-election and in a year when Democrats all over the country had record wins…she lost by a big margin…having neglected African American and youth voters in her state so she could chase after Trump voters…who ended up voting against her in the end.).
Do these Establishment/Moderate Democrats really believe in what they’re saying and doing? That these enraptured Trump cultists are somehow going to start making cakes for gay weddings and celebrate Black History Month? That the most pragmatic path for Democrats to win in 2020 is to convince zombies to give up eating brains for kale?
Meanwhile, are there other voters than Trump cultists, in addition to Democrats who didn’t vote in 2016, who the Democratic candidate in 2020 could pursue to help push her/him over the top and into the White House?
Using a three lettered affirmative word that was also the name of a Progressive Rock band in the 1970s…”Yes”.
3rd Party voters in 2016.
Those who didn’t like Trump back then and didn’t vote for him. Yes, they didn’t vote for Hillary either but Hillary isn’t going to be the candidate in 2020 so some of those 3rd party voters who won’t vote for Trump are in play. Some will be just as upset about Trump’s horribleness that he’s displayed over the past two and a half years and want to vote for the Democrat in 2020 to get rid of him.
Remember, 2020 will not be the perfectly awful storm of 2016 that made 3rd party voting more viable. Both candidates will not start out with high negatives (just Trump will). There will not be a campaign-long email scandal (unjustified as it was) that the FBI cooperates in and reopens against the Democratic candidate just days before the election (after Trump’s and his cronies’ own ongoing violations of leaking
3rd party voting flourishes in elections when there is no incumbent and when it’s possible for voters to look at both candidates as a choice of “the better of two evils”. When an incumbent president is running on being the worst of all evils, that kind of diffuses the 3rd party argument. Instead, voting to get rid of the Resident Evil is more convincing.
So are there many 3rd party voters that Democrats could draw on, who could be low hanging fruit because they clearly expressed they didn’t want to vote for Trump in 2016? Are there enough to make a difference?
Look below at the comparison in those three pivotal states between the margin of loss for Hillary, that a Democrat would need to cover in 2020, and the number of 3rd party voters that could be pursued.
As is apparent, the Democratic candidate in 2020, apart from winning by just improving a tiny bit on the black and youth Democratic turnout, could also win each state merely by winning a fraction of the anti-Trump 3rd party vote.
The trick here is that those who voted 3rd party did not want to vote for the moderate, establishment Democrat in 2016. They wanted an outsider with a big vision who wasn’t beholden to the establishment and generated enthusiasm. While the argument could be made that they made a very poor choice that year to vote for candidates who never had a chance and opened up the path for Trump to win, a segment of those voters who now recognize what’s at stake in 2020 could easily find a level of comfort with the Democratic candidate…especially if they represented change and not a return to the establishment/status quo that they voted against in 2016.
The more a candidate can excite voters with their vision and is not an icon of the political establishment, the more likely they are to attract the 3rd party voters and Democratic base voters who didn’t turn out in 2016.
So the truth is, a Progressive Democrat with a real vision for improving the country has a bigger base of potential voters to draw on than a Moderate
Democrats could be best positioned to win the presidency in 2020 by nominating and supporting a presidential candidate who doesn’t just want to make things marginally better, offers only incremental change and represents the establishment that many Americans see as having failed the people repeatedly and put them last after the interests of corporations and the wealthy.
A fresh candidate that inspires (even strong supporters of Joe Biden don’t represent that he will excite voters) will energize voter turnout in a way that no Moderate Democrat could. The Democrats have an unfortunately long history of nominating establishment moderates who have lost big elections (i.e. Humphrey, Gore, Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry, Hillary Clinton). But it was the “surprise” Democratic candidates that have won, including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton (Clinton was a moderate but a brand new face) and of course Barack Obama.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. A better definition of insanity is going down any path that makes the re-election of Trump more likely.
Instead, it would seem more advantageous to choose a quality Democratic candidate who can generate the needed enthusiasm within the biggest potential voting base to defeat Trump in the swing states and in the process, make clear to Democrats of color and younger voters that they are valued as Democrats and relied upon to make the difference in winning the White House (and Congress!) in 2020.