But concerns over Biden since he's the Democratic front-runner aside, I’ve long held the belief (which doesn’t make it true…) that ANY candidate who can make it through the long and challenging battlefield of the Democratic primaries and after a year of contests and debates and journalistic scrutiny come through all the elections and end up with the most delegates, enough to get the nomination, can and should be able to win the presidency.
Yes, if Elizabeth Warren gets the nomination Republicans will try to smear her as a socialist. But they’ll try to smear any Democrat with something – and probably with "socialism!!" whoever they are. BUT – whoever the Democratic nominee is, they’ll be battle-tested for over a year and will have been vetted and will have proven themselves a winner…AND, most importantly, in the general election will get all the votes cast by registered Democrats. And however they’re smeared, they’ll still pick up a lot, if not most of the undecided independent voters. Because the alternative is Trump, who at the moment only has about a 41% approval in the country and has never cracked 50%, the first time in history. And who I think will get progressively worse over the next year, because that's who he is.
I do not believe that this election is going to be, first and foremost, about the Democratic nominee. I think it will be about how horrified the voting public is about Trump. As I noted a couple weeks ago, a recent AP poll asked a question to voters who specifically didn’t like either Joe Biden or Trump, and those people said 40% would vote for Biden and only 10% would vote for Trump. Yes, on the surface on the surface one can say, "Well, that’s because it's Biden." Except that's not the case -- because, remember, the result is from people Who Didn’t Like Him. And they still said they’d vote for him over Trump by 4-to-1. The result wasn’t about how much they liked Biden – because they said they didn’t like him – it was about how much they hated Trump. And I think that holds true whoever the Democratic nominee is.
Ultimately, Elizabeth Warren is NOT a socialist. She’s not a Scary Person. She’s scary to some, but Obama was terrifying to some. And to the far right, all Democrats are scary. To the far right, moderate Republicans are scary -- the dreaded RINOs, "Republicans In Name Only." And further, we’ve seen the polls that show Warren would beat Trump. Yes, admittedly that’s before Republicans start all the smear campaigning – but it's not like Trump hasn't been smearing her for two years. And it’s ALSO before you have one, focused voice – Elizabeth Warren (for the sake of argument, since she seems one of the more supposedly "scary" candidates) slamming Trump for who he is. And all the Democratic Party slamming Trump for who he is, not battling among themselves. And it’s before Warren is up on a debate stage with Trump, taking him apart, shred by shred in her no-nonsense way.
Republican will absolutely go after her (and any Democrat) with all they have. But campaigning is a two-way street. And Trump is SO MUCH MORE vulnerable than any Democrat, whether Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg or even Andrew Yang. Trump has to defend his record. And has to defend his tweets and statements and lies and altering National Weather Service maps and diverting military planes to his Turnberry golf course and inviting the Taliban to Camp David over the 9/11 anniversary. And has to defend his meltdowns.
It is my hope (and expectation) that in their debate prep, the Democratic candidate will be told to repeatedly say to Trump, “You’re wrong…” about everything. Because we KNOW he can’t take being told “You’re wrong.” Imagine whoever the Democratic candidate is saying all night, through three debates, “You’re wrong…you’re wrong…you’re wrong…you’re wrong…you’re wrong…you’re wrong” to Trump. This is a man who not only couldn't admit he was wrong about saying Alabama was in the path of a hurricane, but illegally doctored a government map to defend it and can't let it go. Now, imagine it’s Elizabeth Warren, a woman!!, saying that to the misogynist Trump. All night. "You're wrong, you're wrong...you're wrong." And each time giving her specific reasons, point after point after point. How long before Trump gets all crazed?
So, yes, I think Elizabeth Warren can win. But then, I think any Democrat who can survive a year of primary election and gets the party's nomination can win. I'm not saying that right now any Democratic candidate can beat Trump. I'm saying that any Democrat who is strong enough to get the party's nomination can beat Trump. Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro. Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, whoever shows that they can make it through a grindingly demanding, hard-fought year of campaigning and actually win the Democratic nomination. That person can beat Trump. And this is said with still a year to go as Trump melts down more and makes things worse -- and with the growing risk of a recession, with the economy the one and only thing he has semi-going for him. Which didn’t help the GOP in the 2018 mid-terms.
By the way, keep in mind polls show that even Pete Buttigieg can beat Trump, right now. And yes, it's just a poll and carries no weight. But -- Pete Buttieg right now is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and openly gay. This is before a year of campaigning, before a year of primaries, perhaps he is The Official One and Only Democratic Party Nominee for President. He's the gay mayor of South Bend. And polls have him already ahead of Trump, the sitting president.
There is an ad that MSNBC has been running which has footage of host Mika Brzezinski asking a guest, "Is there any Democratic candidate you can guarantee can beat Donald Trump?" Forgetting for the moment that the question being asked is old, from a month or two ago. And forget too that there is, of course, no literal "guarantee" that can be made in politics, even if a candidate is up by 80 points with on day to go before the election. But if one is going to ask the one question, it's reasonable ask the opposite -- is there any Democratic candidate who Republicans can guarantee that Donald Trump can beat? Outside of Maryanne Williamson, I don't think there is, including Andrew Yang. And I wouldn't bet all my money if Ms. Williamson is in the race. But I do think that right now it's likely that any Democrat who wins the party's nomination will beat Trump.
Is this a guarantee that the Democratic nominee will beat Trump? Absolutely not. Unequivocally not. Is it wise to be wary? Without question. What will be critical in 2020 is "get out the vote" and voter motivation. But Democrats have been putting together organization from their national protest rallies since the Women's Rally on Day One of Trump's inauguration. And their members have been bursting to vote again since Election Day 2016. The Republican base is motivated, as well -- but that's only about 25% of the country. And you can't win with 25%. The rest of Republicans who support Trump seem to be doing so with their hands over their eyes and noses plugged. That's not motivation. That's agony.
I think every Democrat should be wary. I think every Republican should be terrified.