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We Just Don't Know Anymore

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 16, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 16, 2019 |


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It’s been a bizarre few weeks in the political world because while impeachment has dominated the headlines, the process itself not only feels predetermined, it is predetermined. Mitch McConnell has stated explicitly that he will run the impeachment proceedings through the White House, and Lindsay Graham has already said that he’s made up his mind and will not vote to convict Trump. The goddamn thing is fixed. Trump is not going to be convicted. The only drama here is in how a handful of Senators — Joe Manchin, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski — will vote, but none of their votes will be determinative. At this point, it feels like something we have to get through to illustrate the point, but the outcome is not in question.

The political mood of both parties ebbs and flows, and it feels a little like the Democrats are in an ebb, and jokes about Trump being impeached and winning reelection — like the one that SNL made THREE TIMES this weekend — are dispiriting, to say the least, especially combined with what happened in the UK last week. Obviously, it’s completely different situations with two completely different electorates. That said, I can see a scenario in which any of the four remaining frontrunners in the Democratic party completely trounce Trump in 2020, but I can also see scenarios in which any of the four suffer a Corbyn/Dukakis/Mondale like defeat. Actually, I don’t think Biden would lose, but I do see a repeat of 2016 if he were nominated, and I do envision a scenario in which Trump imprisons Biden after his nomination based on some completely made-up Ukranian conspiracy theory, and in such a situation, I see Democrats losing their shit … for three weeks, and then throwing up our hands in resignation, which must be how Black voters in the South and Hispanic voters in Texas have felt in national elections forever.

So at this point, I am fairly decided on who I want to vote for in the primary, but I am not at all sure about who is best equipped to defeat Trump. I know that there are a lot of progressives who are like, “F**k the moderates! Just get out more young, enthusiastic people and people of color!” but I feel like that’s how Labour tried to overcome the Conservatives in the UK and it didn’t work out very well, and maybe we end up repeating that process with Warren/Sanders. When things like impeachment fail, it’s also dispiriting for young, enthusiastic voters, so maybe it’s best to be pragmatic, but Biden sticks his foot in his mouth every other week and Buttigieg can’t win over a Black voter to save his life. We don’t have a moderate candidate that progressives are ever going to be enthusiastic about, and I’m still not sure how willing moderates are to go along with a progressive candidate over Trump, which is a real sad state of affairs in the country.

All of this brings me to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll. The topline numbers aren’t that interesting:

Biden: 24%
Sanders: 22%
Warren: 17%
Buttigieg 13%

That’s not terribly surprising, but the demographic breakdowns are interesting. First of all, respondents say they are very fluid: 76 percent of respondents say that they could still change their minds. Second, not all of it is that surprising: Buttigieg, for instance, leads whites with a college degree (ARE WE THAT PREDICTABLE! GOD!), Bernie leads among progressives and Biden among moderates, and Warren seems to be everyone else’s second choice, which is either very good for her in the nomination battle or makes her Dukakis in the general.

This is what I found most interesting: Biden leads in the South, where a lot of Democratic primary voters are Black, but Bernie actually leads overall among nonwhite voters, probably because he’s a bigger draw among younger voters, and younger people in America are more diverse.

What does it mean? I’m not sure, except that, practically speaking, Biden’s appeal among Black voters in places like Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina, and maybe even Georgia means fuckall in the general because those states are not determinative. Thanks to the Electoral college, voters in those states don’t mean sh*t. On the other hand, Bernie’s support among non-white voters in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and maybe even Texas (which is 39 percent Hispanic) could be determinative. Bernie is also leading among men (which is not surprising, ahem), but the question is, is he leading among men in the primary to the exclusion of women in the general? That, I don’t know. I do know that most of the people I know would vote for Biden over Buttigieg, but I’m almost afraid to ask about a theoretical match-up between Bernie and Biden because there’s a lot of lingering resentment left over from 2016 among the women I know (ahem).

There is some talk, of late, of a progressive unity ticket between Bernie and Warren, which would be interesting. Their combined support would definitely topple the centrists and they’d take the nomination in a cakewalk, but it also could theoretically ensure defeat in the general. It also gives Trump two targets, and bringing down one could bring down both.

There’s an episode of Netflix’s The Politician, which is about a run for student council president in a high school, and the two candidates have identified how every single voter in the school will vote except for one, and it all basically comes down to one undecided, apathetic voter that the two candidates spend all day trying to woo. I feel like that’s what is going to happen here, like: Is that one Latinx factory worker in Milwaukee willing to take two buses and stand in line for 3 hours to vote against Trump? And if so, for which Democrat?

In other words, I just don’t know anymore.

Source: NPR


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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