Less than a year and a half from now, Americans will be going to the polls to select the next president. The first primaries are now “only” eight months away and the first debate is a month from now. So what do I make of the race so far? Who will I support?
Let me preface the following by saying I like all of the candidates. Even the ones I like least would be a substantially better President than Donald Trump. I am 100% committed to voting for the Democratic nominee and supporting them with my money and time. The risks of a second Trump term are just too damn high to have the privilege of opting out of supporting the eventual nominee.
Having said all that, I think one of these six candidates is most likely to be the nominee next fall: Bernie, Beto, Biden, Buttigieg, Harris or Warren. These are your frontrunners when it comes to fundraising and polls.
Everyone else is struggling to stay at 1% and raise the small donor money they need to get in the debates and with more candidates getting in by the day, what’s left of the oxygen that is not consumed by the front runners will be divided 15 ways and counting.
Ranking my choice between the top six I’ve identified, I would vote as follows, following the Fred LaRiccia rule of most electable progressive:
1. Pete Buttigieg
2. Bernie Sanders
3. Elizabeth Warren
4. Kamala Harris
5. Joe Biden
6. Beto O’Rourke
I met Mayor Pete and walked away impressed by his resume, his intelligence, his wit, his humility, and his military service. As a fellow millennial, I strongly feel the boomer generation has had its day and it is time for a truly new generation of leadership. We were not able to ask questions, which is unfortunate as I do have some misgivings about his foreign policy and record on race relations in South Bend. If he can address those issues more forcefully, he has my #1 vote.
I voted for Bernie last time and still feel there are few public servants as consistent as he has been on the issues I care about. While Warren was voting for Reagan, he was campaigning for Jesse Jackson. While Biden was voting for mass incarceration and mideastern wars, Bernie was voting against them. Before Pete, Booker, or Castro were out of diapers he was running his states largest city on social democratic principles. The downside is that his policies lack specifics and he still alienates a lot of Hillary supporters, moderates, and black voters he will need in his corner to win. He currently polls better than Warren in the states that count, which is why I give him the edge for now with my #2.
I have consistently been an Elizabeth Warren skeptic on this blog. I just can’t picture her winning the general election, and she has struggled so far in her campaign for the nomination. This is entirely too bad since she has the most thoughtful policy agenda of anyone in the race. Her best venue is the town hall format. If she uses that format the way McCain did in 2008 to sneak back into contention, she can beat out Bernie as the alternative to Biden. Otherwise, she’s toast. She’s my #3 for now.
Harris’ LIFT Act is a great family assistance plan and a policy she should be highlighting more. Unfortunately, she seems a lot more comfortable prosecuting the Trump administration than running on her own policy plans. The slip up on ACA is a prime example of her lack of fluency around specifics. She might be the most compelling speaker out of this bunch and is great at being an attack dog, but the top of the ticket requires a sharp policy mind. As a Veep she could be formidable, as a nominee, I have some reservations. #4
Biden has a solid third of the party that I would argue is a lot more ride or die than pundits acknowledge. Despite his many foibles around issues of race, class, and gender he seems to be the only candidate so far capable of exciting black voters, latinos, and working class whites at the same time. That said, there’s no policy agenda right now, which gives me pause, especially if his mediocre record is all we have to go by. #5
Beto is a policy lightweight. He does appeal to the same kind of people who liked Obama, and I know some Republicans who like him. He’s #6 on this list.
Campaigns I wish would gain traction: Inslee for his multi level policy experience and climate commitment, and Booker for his baby bonds. Otherwise the other also rans haven’t impressed me. What do you think?