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Where The Democratic Field Stands Ahead of Tonight's Debate

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 20, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 20, 2019 |


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Another round of Democratic debates will be held tonight, and things are getting interesting/ugly for the Democratic Party, as Dem voters coalesce around essentially one of four candidates. Any four of which will probably create some bitterness within the party, which we can hopefully smooth over before the Convention.

Here’s the way I see it: Pete Buttigieg has taken a lead in Iowa and, according to a poll yesterday (with a small sample size), he’s also jumped out ahead of the others in New Hampshire, too. Buttigieg is clearly cutting into Biden’s support among white moderates, and gambling that wins in Iowa and New Hampshire can propel him through the primaries.

Biden, meanwhile, is losing steam in Iowa and New Hampshire among white moderates, but he has something of a firewall with Black voters in both Nevada and South Carolina. He can lose Iowa and New Hampshire and still win in commanding fashion in South Carolina ahead of Super Tuesday. Buttigieg’s support in South Carolina among Black voters? Zero percent. Literally. Zero percent. I honestly do not see that changing much, even if he does take Iowa and New Hampshire.

As for Bernie? Bernie is Bernie. He has the strongest, most enthusiastic base, but outside of that base, Bernie’s support is soft. Bernie can probably attract 15-20 percent in nearly every state, but I don’t think that he can get much more than that.

And Warren? She and Bernie are splitting the progressive vote, with Warren capturing a larger share. I think that Warren is still probably the consensus candidate — progressives would be happy with her, and I think that most moderates like her well enough. But Warren still hasn’t managed to win over the Black vote, and that remains Biden’s firewall. He’s the only candidate that has managed to attract a sizable share of the Black vote, and if no one else can make gains there, it’s Biden’s nomination to lose.

Around 46 percent of the party is progressive, and those votes will probably be split among Bernie and Warren; 39 percent is moderate, and those votes will probably be split among Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg, while 14 percent is conservative, and they will mostly go for Joe, with some casting their lot with Buttigieg.

It’s kind of a mess.

I think it is kind of interesting — though not in a particularly good way — that white, college-educated Democrats are the ones doing all the talking and all the debating on social media and essentially steering the conversation in the mainstream media, but at the end of the day, it’s not our bus. Fifty-nine percent of the party is still White, but it’s the other 40 percent — Blacks and Hispanics — that are going to be decisive in the primaries and the general. We can yell and bicker all we want on Twitter and Facebook, insult each others’ candidates, and work ourselves into a tizzy, and for lack of a better phrase, get lost in our own White nonsense. While we are doing that, the Black women in Alabama and the rest of the South who ensured that Roy Moore wouldn’t become a Senator; the Black voters in North Carolina who pushed Obama over the top in 2008; and the Hispanic voters in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas will end up making the decision for us, and my guess is that they are going to choose the candidate who they think has the best chance of protecting them from another four years of Donald Trump.

It may not be the same candidate that I vote for in the primaries, but come next November, you bet your ass that I’m going to line up behind them. I may have different priorities — free healthcare! wipe out student debt! green new deal! — but they are the voters most likely to feel the brunt of a racist, xenophobic President. My vote in the primaries will be for me; my vote in the general will be for everyone else.



Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.


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