By Contributor Simhya Karthikeyan
Over the course of watching several debates over the past six months, viewers were able to see candidates solidify their stances, policies, and overall campaigns. The top candidates are from different parts of the political spectrum: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren embrace their progressive views, while Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden firmly stand in their moderate views. While these candidates have differing stances, they all campaign with the goal of beating Donald Trump in 2020.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden ranks the highest in national polls. He comes in with name recognition as Obama’s Vice President for eight years and has wooed the public by being “Uncle Joe.”
However, his high polling numbers do not correlate with enthusiasm from the Democratic Party. With the mindset of backing a candidate that will beat Trump, people seem to be supporting him because of his perceived electability against Trump rather than his performance. According to a November poll from The New York Times/Siena College of registered voters, 62% of registered voters favor a candidate that prioritizes finding common ground with Republicans, while 33% said that they would prefer a candidate who has a bold, progressive agenda.
This logic of backing a candidate for electability reasons rather than their policies has proven to be flawed. As seen through the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was chosen as the Democratic nominee because the party leadership believed that she had the centrist views and familiarity with the public to win the Midwest and beat Trump. Going further back in history, Mitt Romney, Al Gore, and John Kerry were all presidential nominees in part because the party leadership believed that these nominees had the moderate stances to win the presidency.
On December 11, Joe Biden’s advisor revealed that Joe Biden will not be seeking re-election if elected. Biden hopes to have a young, diverse Vice President that will take over in 2024. However, if his ideal running mate is not young and diverse, he will be seeking re-election in 2024. With this information, along with Joe Biden’s moderate economic and healthcare policies, voters will need to decide if they vote for Biden because of his “electability” or his plans.
Rather than backing Joe Biden out of the belief that he will appeal to the middle of the road voters, voters need to start backing bold, policy-driven candidates who can effectively battle Trump’s reality TV star persona in 2020.
It is natural for Democratic voters to want to choose someone that will remove Trump from office; however, it is imperative to begin supporting candidates that bring enthusiasm and unification to the party. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have brought energy to their candidacies, as both candidates attract large crowds and have been able to beat Trump in polls with smaller margins compared to Joe Biden. For now, it is important to set aside “electability”—multiple candidates have shown the strength to beat Trump. Now is the time to choose the right candidates by evaluating their policies, enthusiasm, and ability to represent the Democratic Party.