For those of us keeping up with the primaries, the past few weeks have been a wild ride. Sanders is now the front-runner, giving mainstream Democrats flashbacks to a certain other populist’s rise in the last election’s Republican primaries. As every other candidate’s fortunes have waxed and waned, only Sanders’ position has remained strong.
I have my problems with Sanders. The biggest is that he would lose. Not only would his nomination garner Trump another 4 years in the White House, it would cost the Democrats their majority in the House. Don’t believe me? Ask Trump supporters.
So: Who can beat Sanders? Let’s go down the list:
Biden: The former frontrunner is still a contender, despite proving to be a dismal campaigner. He can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth in ever-more bizarre ways. His once-reliable base of support has been slipping. He has yet to win a primary. He polls well against Trump, but his skills on the stump don’t inspire confidence.
Bloomberg: The big story of the last few weeks has been Bloomberg’s ad-fueled surge in the polls, only to stall out as his liabilities have become obvious. It would be a pleasure to see his vast media power turned against Trump in the general election, but one of the lessons of 2016 is that forceful attacks alone—Hillary made plenty—aren’t enough to turn voters against Trump. They have to actually like the alternative.
Buttigieg: His strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire haven’t gotten him the bump that his campaign had hoped for. Instead, the media has focused on the Bloomberg and Sanders storylines, ignoring the small town mayor’s remarkable showing. But he’s still second only to Sanders in delegate count, and he’s proven a vigorous campaigner, outperforming expectations while Biden underperforms them. His youth and optimism would make him an appealing contrast to Trump in the general election.
Warren: Warren got some attention for her strong performances in the recent debates. It’s not enough to give her a real shot. And even if she did somehow win the nomination, Trump would crush her in the swing states.
Klobuchar: Pretty much the same story as Warren. I personally like Klobuchar, who may well be the sanest candidate in the running. But whatever momentum she’s caught has been too little, too late. Her polling remains in the single digits.
And so, next Tuesday, I’ll be voting for Mayor Pete. If you want Donald Trump out of the White House, then you should, too. [Update 3/1: I no longer stand by this. My post-South Carolina recommendation is: Vote for Biden.]
This is Part 10 of an ongoing series making the case for Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.