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What does it take to win the Democratic nomination in 2016?

20 Comments

Get out your pitchforks, Democrats! A showdown over populism is coming.

The core of the problem is the decline of Democratic support among white working-class voters. White voters without a college degree made up 36 percent of the midterm electorate this year. They voted nearly 2-to-1 Republican.

Democrats did not have a compelling economic narrative for them. The economic recovery may be underway, but Democrats dared not talk about it. They would have been met with derision. Working-class Americans haven't seen any recovery.

Without a strong message on the economy, Democrats had to rely on social issues - women's rights, immigration, climate change - to rally the party's liberal base. It didn't work. Liberals were demoralized by President Barack Obama's failure to deliver. And liberal social issues don't have much appeal to the white working class.

Now an unlikely Democratic savior has emerged to claim the mantle of economic populism: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren's battle cry is aimed directly at the Obama administration: "Enough is enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position and the kind of cronyism we have seen in the executive branch. Enough is enough!"

Warren a populist hero? She was a Harvard law professor, the very top of the pinnacle of elite education. While Warren comes from a modest background in Oklahoma - she claims American Indian ancestry - she is not an easily relatable figure for what the British call "the horny-handed sons of toil." To be fair, neither was Franklin D Roosevelt, with his privileged background and aristocratic accent. Nonetheless, FDR rallied blue-collar whites to the cause of economic populism.

There's an interesting pattern today in U.S. voting behavior. The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican. The better educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democratic. American politics has become a war between two elites - the elite of wealth and the elite of education. In 2012, Mitt Romney was the prince of wealth. Obama was the prince of education.

Earlier this year, "New York Times" columnist David Brooks made an interesting observation. "If you are a young professional in a major city," Brooks wrote, "you experience inequality first hand. But the inequality you experience most acutely is not inequality down, toward the poor; it's inequality up, toward the rich." Brooks called it "Blue Inequality" rather than "Red Inequality."

"Red Inequality" is the resentment of those without a college degree toward the cultural elite. "Blue Inequality" means resentment of the economic elite by the cultural elite. Well-educated urban professionals resent people similar to themselves "who may have gone to the same college, who are earning more while benefiting from low tax rates, wielding disproportionate political power, gaining in prestige and contributing seemingly little to the social good."

The cultural elite is Warren's constituency. It wants revenge on Wall Street.

Progressive Democrats are building a Warren movement. But the Massachusetts senator has given no indication that she will run for president in 2016. If she were to change her mind, she could be competing against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who demonstrated her populist appeal to Red State Democrats in 2008.

Progressives denounce Clinton's ties to Wall Street, just like they have long denounced her husband's. As president, Bill Clinton deregulated the financial industry. Progressives see that as paving the way for the abuses that led to the 2008 financial collapse.

In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Obama got his strongest support from educated upper-middle-class voters, plus African-Americans. Clinton got the white working-class vote. She demolished Obama in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. When Clinton recalled her grandfather teaching her to shoot as a child in Pennsylvania, Obama mocked her for "talking like she's Annie Oakley." Obama disparaged small-town Pennsylvania voters who "cling to guns or religion." Clinton beat Obama by 10 points in Pennsylvania.

Every modern Democratic presidential race ends up with two candidates: a populist and a progressive. The populist gets support from working-class voters. The progressive gets support from highly educated "NPR Democrats." In the 1950s, it was Adlai Stevenson the progressive versus Estes Kefauver the coonskin-hat-wearing populist. In 1968, it was Eugene McCarthy the progressive versus Robert F. Kennedy the populist. In 1984, it was Gary Hart (progressive) versus Walter Mondale (populist). In 1992, it was Paul Tsongas (progressive) versus Bill Clinton (populist). In 2000, it was Bill Bradley (progressive) versus Vice President Al Gore (populist). In 2008, it was Obama (progressive) versus Hillary Clinton (populist).

If she runs in 2016, Clinton will undoubtedly face a challenge from her left. It may not be Warren - but it will be somebody. Democrats are auditioning for the role right now (Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, former Senator James Webb, Senator Bernie Sanders, probably others).

To win the white working-class vote, Democrats will need a candidate who not only champions their economic interests but is also culturally relatable. Only one Democratic presidential candidate in the past 35 years has managed to erase the Republican advantage among white working-class voters. That was Bill Clinton. He did it twice, in 1992 and again in 1996.

He won both elections.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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A spine would be nice. Economic theories are based on the disposability of people. Ethical people should work against that to some degree. Failing that, a ham sandwich would be better than a Republican.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What does it take to win the Democratic nomination in 2016?

The most delegates.

And whoever wins those delegates, will win the general election.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would have to say from the looks of Obama's unwillingness to work with congress that the chances are slim, NOT impossible but slim for any Democrat to win and to appeal to the public and don't think that the people can't get turned off by liberals the same way they were turned off by conservatives 6 years ago. The people voted, they wanted change, they were NOT happy with the president and how he was executing his radical policies, if they did, the Republicans would have never won. This was a clear referendum on Obama and his policies. The Dems suffered a serious A** whoppin' last November as a result of Obama and his policies, not only that, but Republicans GAINED seats in the House increasing their majority and the country changed to a deep Red and if the Dems want to win ANY future election, being overly European liberal progressive and radical in the US will NOT get Dems elected to anything, but a paper hat job asking customers if they would like a side of fries with that order. The Republicans are finally listening and as a result, they won the upper hand and now it's going to be a real interesting year for US politics and a lot of pushback and if the president wants to get anything done, the ball is in his court, he can either work with congress or he can further take his party down to the Abyss of obscurity.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

What does it take to win the Democratic nomination in 2016?

About $500 million and a willingness to sell your soul and principles to big business. Same goes for the Republicans although they get a much lesser price for their soul if it has not already been sold.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

SimondB - Har! But, really, is big business so bad for the country? We can't just have small businesses, can we?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@simond

Hmmm...big business seems to be working well for China, have you paid attention to their economy? Or do you think that the US should have an economy like Guam?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

A spine would be nice

Hillary is going to win. Warren might win in the future, but not this time. Republicans will be split between a candidate like Jeb Bush and a Tea Party secessionist who may run on an independent ticket, so they will lose the presidential election but will possibly stay about the same elsewhere. Neither party has anyone to get very excited about, so the only choice will be in the degree of craziness. Nobody is that supportive of Hillary, but she is less crazy than some of the other choices, so she'll get in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hillary is going to win.

You don't know that for sure, none of us do. But it is really speculative to say with caution that Democrats are going to have a very difficult time taking the White House in 2016 don't think for once it will be a shoe in.

Warren might win in the future, but not this time.

That one in most likelihood will never happen. Then that would be the equivalent to Alex Jones or Rush Limbaugh running. Not a chance. But if she does that would be great for EVERY Republican, they would be assured to get the White House in 2016 and beyond if she runs.

Republicans will be split between a candidate like Jeb Bush and a Tea Party secessionist who may run on an independent ticket, so they will lose the presidential election but will possibly stay about the same elsewhere.

As well as the Democratic base. You have the established moderate Hilary voting Democrats and you have the Warren, Frankan progressive wing of the party. If Hilary doesn't run which is a slight possibility, she can go give speeches and make $250-350,000 a pop, something to think about, quick cash and if she is president, that all stops. So she has not made a decision yet and good that she didn't, like with Bush, she needs to think it through. As for the Tea Party, they will this time stand behind any candidate and put there differences aside. Once again, the Republicans are NOT going to take the pitfalls and traps that the Dems have once laid before them. They have learned their lessons from the last 2 election cycles and won't make those mistakes again.

Neither party has anyone to get very excited about, so the only choice will be in the degree of craziness. Nobody is that supportive of Hillary, but she is less crazy than some of the other choices, so she'll get in.

Less crazy, but more elusive.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Without California's 55 electoral college votes it's pretty difficult to win the presidential election. George W did it in 2000, and he became president even though the sitting vice president Al Gore received about half a million more popular votes ( Bush got 47.9%, Gore got 48.4% ). There is virtually no chance of a Republican winning California any longer, so the Republicans have to hope for a major screwup by the Democrat candidate...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The people voted, they wanted change, they were NOT happy with the president and how he was executing his radical policies...

Are you kidding? Mr. Obama is a "corporate man", solidly "in bed" with corporations and Wall Street, so he is hardly a radical and neither are the overwhelming majority of his policies.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Are you kidding? Mr. Obama is a "corporate man", solidly "in bed" with corporations and Wall Street, so he is hardly a radical and neither are the overwhelming majority of his policies.

Of course Obama is a big corporate guy. That's why the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, that's why we have more increased low paying jobs vs high paying jobs, that's why we don't have the Keystone pipeline and he's trying to cap the coal industry, legalize 5 million illegals.

Obama is not radical, He understands to work within the 3 equal legislation system, he's just an all around fair president that listens to the people and works with Congress. Keep telling yourself that.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Having the last name of "Clinton" seems to be the primary requirement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bass

As for the Tea Party, they will this time stand behind any candidate and put there differences aside. Once again, the Republicans are NOT going to take the pitfalls and traps that the Dems have once laid before them.

Interesting theory you've got there: Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry were all set up to run by scheming Democratic Party operatives. Pure genius.

I'd like to hear more on that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting theory you've got there: Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry were all set up to run by scheming Democratic Party operatives. Pure genius. I'd like to hear more on that.

The Republicans picking nominees and Dems outright blocking any legislation that is or was brought to the then Democratic Majority to the prince of stall-Reid (by the way, heard he broke his face) is an entirely different subject.

As far as the new congress going forward, it's all in Obama's court. The people voted for the Repubs to curb this president of his insatiable appetite for spending and worrying more about the next political election cycle than to worry about the people and the country as a whole. So it will be very interesting if Obama really wants to work with congress the way the other presidents did or if he just wants to force his failed political agendas and to keep on screwing the American people.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

his failed political agendas and to keep on screwing the American people.

The economy is experiencing the strongest growth in 10 years, unemployment is lower than Romney promised to achieve by 2016, most people are relatively happy with Obamacare (Jeb Bush has done quite well off it as well), gas prices are down (bringing that up since Obama was blamed when they were high -- I don't think he has much to do with gas prices either way). And so on. Not much evidence for your argument. Unless you want to talk about 'Benghazi'.

The GOP had better present how they can do better for the country, rather than bringing up the same old tired moaning.

Or is it just Obama's 'optics' ? Should he wear a cowboy hat and talk tough?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just hope this isn't a fight between another Clinton and yet another Bush. Let's have something new. Surely there's enough talent in a country of over 300 million? Oh wait, let me rephrase that. Surely there are 2 people with enough money in the US without the family names Clinton or Bush in a country of over 300 million?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Surely there are 2 people with enough money in the US without the family names Clinton or Bush in a country of over 300 million?"

You don't have to have money, just be able to raise money for a campaign. And even if you have a lot of money, it doesn't guarantee the nomination, look at Steve Forbes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What does it take to win any nomination? The ability to raise money. Hillary can do that. Joe Biden can't. Warren might be able to do that. Bernie Sanders can't. Jeb Bush will absolutely be able to do that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The economy is experiencing the strongest growth in 10 years, unemployment is lower than Romney promised to achieve by 2016,

Yes, that's true, but now where are the HIGH PAYING jobs, the FULL-TIME 40 Hour a week job, jobs that don't require a paper hat?

What's really funny is, NONE of the libs, Dems and the President EVER want to talk about Obama's failures, but if it is something positive, they will shout to the mountain tops. There is an old saying that every successful leader can admit to failure and humility. Something this president is strongly lacking.

most people are relatively happy with Obamacare (Jeb Bush has done quite well off it as well), gas prices are down (bringing that up since Obama was blamed when they were high

Yes, for most LOW INCOME people, the 11 million formerly uninsured they ARE happy, but for the middle class it's an entirely different story, many will get their employee adjusted NEW Healthcare adjusted rates and there are already a lot of people that are beyond angry and that will get worse as well. The top 1% could care less what rates they have to pay.

-- I don't think he has much to do with gas prices either way). And so on. Not much evidence for your argument. Unless you want to talk about 'Benghazi'.

Benghazi has nothing to do with this, but luckily it will come up in the future and should.

The GOP had better present how they can do better for the country, rather than bringing up the same old tired moaning.

That's why the people elected them and unelected the Democrats because they COULDN'T/WOULDN'T and DIDN'T do better for the country.

Or is it just Obama's 'optics' ? Should he wear a cowboy hat and talk tough?

Talking tough was never one of his strongest qualities.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Being a Clinton. These days even Chelsea might have a shot......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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