The Warring Bubbles of the Democratic Party Take Shape Around Joe Biden
I went out with a couple of friends last night, friends who do not spend all of their time on the Internet, and they all readily admitted that they haven’t really started tuning into the Democratic primary race yet. They haven’t really picked a favorite, and they’re keeping their options open, etc. It’s easy to forget, for some of us, that that’s the way it is in most of America in March the year before the primary elections. Much of social media, the Internet, and Pajiba are already lining up behind favorites, which means that commenters are already arguing with each other and yelling at me. So, I just want to put this out there for the time being: I am not playing favorites. I have a least favorite candidate, and that is Donald Trump, but beyond that, I’m gonna talk about all the candidates (except for Tulsi Gabbard, because get real).
However, if I am talking about one candidate more than the other in any given moment, it’s probably because they’re making the most news at the moment. Obviously, when the headlines are all about Joe Biden and his personal-space invasion, we’re going to talk about that more than, say, Kirsten Gillibrand’s stump speech (in fact, at the moment, the only news that Gillibrand is generating is her answer to whether Biden should drop out of the race, and of course, she’s the one being asked this because of the Al Franken situation, which is all sorts of shitty. Be best, journos).
Sometimes, that might mean saying nice things about, for instance, Bernie, if he does something worthy of that. Sometimes, if — for instance — Bernie drags his feet on releasing his taxes while the House is trying to compel Trump to release his, I’m gonna call Bernie out for that, too (what are you hiding, Bernie?) It’s not favoritism. It’s covering the news.
Also, our world is not the same as the wider one. There’s been a lot of talk about Mayor Pete getting an inordinate amount of coverage of late (we did a profile of him ourselves!), and according to our own poll here at Pajiba, Kamala, Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Pete are leading. However, that’s obviously not reality (although, most of us certainly wish it were). I like to think that we’re ahead of the curve, but maybe we’re not, and by June 2020, Democratic delegates will be deciding between Bernie and Biden at the convention. That is a real possibility, and probably a more likely one than deciding between Kamala and Warren.
In fact, I found this particularly interesting. In spite of this Mayor Pete bump on social media, and the $7 million he raised in the first quarter, he’s not really that huge a topic of conversation on cable and in newspapers.
Even if you ignore that Buttigieg was getting very little coverage until recently and look at polls (not fundraising), his coverage NOW is still quite proportionate. Among the declared candidates, he's 7th in recent cable TV coverage & 8th in newspaper coverage, but 6th in polls. pic.twitter.com/ljM1KLdDn6— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 3, 2019
Look at that! Kamala, Bernie, Beto, and Warren are generating the most coverage, which is amusing because that’s not my experience at all on social media or here with our commentariat. One day, hopefully on a day in which I am experiencing a high fever, I am going to spend the entire day watching cable news, just to see what it’s like. Outside of debates and election night coverage, I haven’t watched cable news in years, but it would be interesting to see how they are covering the race.
Speaking of Biden, he released a video yesterday designed to confront his issues surrounding his personal-space invasion, and naturally, our bubble picked it apart and called it insufficient while the wider world continues to sort of shrug their shoulders at the whole deal. Personally, I think that Biden’s past behavior has turned him off to a lot of people within our bubble, while those in the wider world are kind of clinging to Joe even harder as a sort of f**k you to our bubble. It’s probably going to go on like that for the next several months, as the social media contingent battles the cable news contingent for control of the party. It’s going to be hell, especially as additional women come forward (as they have already done since the video was released), which again is going to push the two sides of the Democratic party further into their trenches.
To be sure, I am in this bubble with the rest of you, but I am at least going to try to acknowledge that our bubble is not the entire party, and also, even within our bubble, there’s a lot of disagreement.
A lot of that disagreement right now pertains to Mayor Pete, and there are more than a few people who do not believe it’s fair that he gets to coast in here and soak up a lot of coverage at the expense of other more experienced candidates, particularly women and people of color. I get that! But also, it’s March, and he’s new and shiny, but even now, I think the novelty is wearing (yes, we know you can speak all those languages Mayor Pete! What else you got, buddy?), and by July, we’ll know all the candidates’ personal narratives like the backs of our own hands. By that point, we’ll all be making decisions based on debate performances and policies, and in that regard, Mayor Pete — like Beto — is sorely lacking, because both seem to be avoiding taking positions on a lot of issues so as to avoid alienating certain segments of the party. But you can’t be all things to everyone during the primary, although once a candidate is selected, that person will have to become all things to us no matter who it is because REMEMBER THE ALTERNATIVE.
Anyway, I’ll hop off my soapbox now, but I’ll end with a simple call for civility. I like writing about politics! I love our audience. But it makes me queasy as hell that we’re already at each others’ necks over a decision that won’t have to be made for anyone for another nine months.
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