The 2020 Democratic Bench

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

It’s never too early to speculate. The Democrats are fired up for the 2020 Presidential election in a way they haven’t been in years. The pall of Hillary Clinton’s loss to the supremely unqualified, fraudulent shell of a candidate that was and is Donald Trump hangs over the party as a constant reminder of a nightmarish reality, brought about by an unimaginable string of unforced errors, miscalculations and unpreventable random outside events that conspired together to produce the greatest upset in American political history.

Is it hyperbole to say that never in the history of Democratic politics has an election loomed larger and more important than 2020?

There are three 70-something nationally-known potential 2020 Democratic candidates right now, but to any objective observer, they seem stale, predictable and shop worn. It’s unlikely that Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren could put together a support coalition across the generational boundaries that would prove strong and vital enough to constitute an actual winning majority. Are any of them a surprise in any way? Do any of them hold even one position on any issue that isn’t already known in advance by everyone? Do any of them inspire the undecideds or strike fear into our international adversaries?

Warren, in particular, may not even live to fight until 2020. Although her national standing is quite high among the hard-core far-Left wing of her party, her personal shortcomings, shrill unlikeability and hypocrisy are becoming increasingly apparent even to her MA base. It’s widely felt that a strong MA Republican Senate candidate, with good funding and a sharp communications strategy, will give Warren a very difficult time indeed in 2018. From her living the lifestyle of a privileged 1%-er while railing against “the rich,” to the embarrassingly shallow understanding of foreign policy she demonstrates whenever she speaks at length on the subject, to her deception of her ethnic background as a “native American” that she used on her application to Harvard, she’s a “target-rich environment,” ripe pickings for a sharply-run opposition campaign. As Republican Charlie Baker’s overwhelming election to the Governorship showed, MA will elect a Republican if the Democrat is deemed personally unworthy, unknowledgeable or out of touch. Warren is arguably all three. As a MA resident, I can see that Warren’s 2018 Senate re-election is far from a sure thing.

So if the 70+ sect is not properly equipped, who is? Where will the Dems turn?

Two names jump out as possibilities: VA Governor Terry McAuliffe and MA Congressman Seth Moulton. There are others, no doubt, and some that no one has even thought of yet. But let’s look at these two for starters.

Terry McAuliffe

Currently the Governor of VA, McAuliffe is a long-time Democratic operative and high-profile figure in the Party. A prolific fundraiser and rabidly partisan but highly effective public speaker, McAuliffe was co-chair of President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, Democratic National Chairman from 2001 to 2005 and chair of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. He won the VA Governorship in 2013 by a close 2-point margin over former VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. As governor, McAuliffe has maintained his high profile, making a dramatic national splash with his declared intention to restore the voting rights via Executive Order of more than 200,000 ex-felons in Virginia—a naked attempt on his part to “stack the VA voting deck” in the Democrats’ favor. His order was overturned, but the very fact that he would even think of doing this is a testament to his aggressive creativity with regard to hardball partisan politics.

McAuliffe’s persona can come across as a bit of a “used car salesman” to those pre-disposed to viewing him negatively, but few Democratic politicians have their base more squarely in their sights. Even more importantly, McAuliffe’s opportunistically-contrived reasonableness (he recently gave Donald Trump a “Gentleman’s C” when asked to grade him so far, in contrast to virtually every other Dem who’d have unhesitatingly said “F”) will get many undecided voters to think, “Hmmmm…not so bad,” which is the key to any hope for victory. He’s a tough cookie who knows the ropes. Republicans should not underestimate him.

Seth Moulton

A 2001 Harvard graduate, Moulton joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and served four combat tours in the Middle East, earning the Medal of Valor and Bronze Star for bravery under fire. He won his Congressional seat in 2014 and takes all the perfectly-Democratic positions on gun control, women’s/LBGTQ rights (yes, including “Q”—perfect), the environment, healthcare, student loans, etc. Perfectly positioned, on every single issue.

As this Boston Globe article shows, there is some talk right now of his candidacy in the next Presidential election. Granted, in 2020 Moulton will only be 42 and assuming re-election to the House in 2018, will have just six years under his belt as a junior elected representative. Nonetheless, his personal résumé is nearly unimpeachable with regards to his military service credentials, his having “saved” a Democratic seat from the failings of a corrupt incumbent and his central-booking rugged good looks. If he’s not the Democratic nominee in 2020, a surefire sign of the Democratic establishment’s opinion of Moulton’s potential as a future high-office candidate will be whether or not he is accorded a prime speaking role at the 2020 Democratic Convention. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were similarly groomed before they achieved main event status.

President Trump is not yet six months into his first term. If three years from now his presidency has been even modestly successful at growing the economy, improving health care, reducing taxes and curtailing illegal immigration, he will prove to be an extremely tough candidate to beat. Although truly hard-core anti-Trump far-Left Democrats will never cede even a micrometer of legitimacy to his presidency, an electorally-significant fraction of the so-called “swing” electorate will have acclimated to his presence and will, in fact, vote on 2020 results rather than a by-then-irrelevant cartoonish cliché from 2016.

However, as interesting as these two potential Democrats may be, absent the next coming of JFK, the Democrats’ chances in 2020 rest more on President Trump’s actual first term performance than the inherent attractiveness of their candidate.

Early Voting in Ohio

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Filed Under Predictions on Sep 30 

The right to vote has a long and fascinating, and yes controversial, history. Not stated as a specific right in the Constitution, it has traditionally been a state prerogative and has evolved through a series of amendments over the years which have, step by step, expanded the franchise of voters and usually has meant federal involvement in state rules on voting rights. Does any of this, strictly speaking, have anything to do with SCOTUS’ decision to delay early voting in Ohio? The court’s decision to not allow registration and early ballot casting at the same time was divided among conservative and liberal judges in a split 5 – 4 decision. Republican state officials are now pitted against black civil rights groups and church groups who say it will unfairly restrict african-american voters ability to cast their ballots. Once again, like in Georgia, we have a concerted rush to the finish line to register voters and loud posturing against anything that gets in the way of this rush. Once again, it must be asked why a steady year-long campaign to register voters was not employed, or if employed, was not successful enough. Ohio is a swing state of course, and no amount of voters on either side is enough for either party. It’s a matter of getting out as many voters as possible to try and move the vote in a close election. That’s electoral politics and almost all is fair in war and love and elections, but is it a negation of voter rights to roll back the start of early voting?

Early voting has become an increasingly important factor in Presidential elections, increasing from around 7% in 1992 to about 30% of votes cast in the 2008 election. It seems that SCOTUS has called a delay, (the voting in Ohio will start on Oct. 7, almost a month before Tuesday November 4), to establish some clarity over early voting in the face of partisan push-and-shove at the state level. Some form of early voting exists in all but 14 states according to the National Confederation of State Legislatures, so it seems to be a matter of dealing with the details of early voting rules across different states. Those who oppose early voting warn of fraud and in any rush to register voters in the weeks leading up to an election there is surely a gray area between sloppy paperwork and deliberate falsification. How much of a potential problem this may turn out to be, however, is a matter of debate. We now have to wait to see what further clarification may come from the court and wonder whether another amendment to the Constitution, one that deals with early voting, awaits voters in the US in the years ahead.

So here we sit, the afternoon before polls open and the answer is still very much in question.

Both candidates are conducting last minute campaign blitzkriegs, seeking to sway the precious few Americans that are planning to vote, but that have not yet made up their mind.

There are grand predictions of landslides for both sides, which look silly. No, more than likely, this is election is going to be more like 2000 or 2004, rather than 2008.

The national polls remain virtually tied, but they realistically mean nothing, as Al Gore will tell you after winning the 2000 popular vote, but losing the White House to George W. Bush. The swing states are where this election will be decided. The RCP state polling aggregate lists 11 states as “toss up”, and President Obama has leads in nine of them. The Romney states are North Carolina and Florida, while Obama holds the lead by three points or more in Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Closer are Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire. Even closer are Colorado and Virginia.

So let’s have some electoral college fun!

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Note: Click graphic to enlarge.

The final Michigan PD Composite Poll shows no conclusive leader as Romney is ahead by less that 1 point based on the effects on the Composite of polls released late yesterday. Whomever earns the votes of last-to-decide Michiganders seems likely to end up the victor.

Also, use this thread to predict the winners and percentages for both Michigan and Arizona. If anyone nails the top four and percentages to the nearest whole number for both states, Jason will send you a book from his personal stash. Tie breakers will be determined by tenths of percentages. Your entry comment must be time stamped by 5 pm EST.

We have a good idea who will win in Florida, but by how much will Mitt Romney win? Or will you predict an upset? Newt Gingrich seems destined for second, but third place is a toss up. Not finishing last is probably more important to Rick Santorum’s campaign that lacks any solid base, as opposed to Ron Paul.

As for the contest, predict the order of finish, including percentage of the vote for the four main candidates. If anyone gets all four percentages rounded to the nearest whole number right, Jason will send you a book from his stash. If two people pick all the same percentages, the person whose comment time stamp is earlier will have the valid entry. Now begin channeling your inner Nostradamus.

It’s prognostication time. What will the final tally be in South Carolina? If someone gets the order and percentages of the top four correct, Jason Wright will send you the book of your choice from his personal stash. If there is a tie, tie breakers are on first Rick Perry then Herman Cain percentages of the vote. Also, don’t forget that I will be voting in this primary, so you may want to consider that in your selections. Now get to it.

OK handicappers, here’s your chance to make your Iowa predictions! List the candidates in order and what percentage of the vote they will receive.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the Solyndra scandal.  It’s being touted as Obama’s first scandal, well at least the first one that has known ties to the White House.  How will this impact 2012?  Or will it just blow over by then?

London is on fire. A quarter million protesters have made their views heard in Israel. Riots and protest have been frequent over the past few months in Spain Greece, and Portugal. The Philippines and China have workers protesting over the cost of living and doing business. Syria is seeing riots.

All of these events are related to economic issues. Some may argue that the evil rich are hoarding their money and letting everyone else starve. Others may argue that we have reached a tipping point where the incentive no longer exists for the producers to produce due to increasingly heavy taxation. One thing is certain. The global economy is largely dependent upon the United States economy. That being said, where do you see the global economy moving in the next few year? Will civil unrest, violence, and uprisings continue? How does it end? Or is this all no more than a cycle and the global economy along with the civil unrest will correct itself with time?

Please welcome Stephen Meehan to the pond. Play nice with the new guy!

The Oval from USA Today is reporting that Obama “is on a political roll.” Jackson cites Obama’s rising approval ratings and a new McLatchy-Marist survey that says Obama is crushing any and all potential GOP candidates, particularly Sarah Palin. I’m not as shocked by this as I am by the fact that everyone up till now had been basically counting Obama out of the race.

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It’s D-Day for the RNC. Is there anyone who still thinks Michael Steele can survive and keep his job as RNC Chairman? If not Steele, then who wins?

As we stare into the eyes of 2011, PD would love to hear your predictions for the biggest political stories of 2011. In the comments, leave a few headlines that will captivate the political world in the next 12 months.