Geography Bigger Problem Than Age For Dems in 2020 by Luke Perry
The Democrats can’t wait for 2020 to arrive. Congressional town halls overflowed last week with boisterous Trump opponents. The president’s job approval rating is lower than any other president at this time in one’s presidency. 9 in 10 Democrats disapprove. 9 in 10 Republicans approve.
Jordain Carney of The Hill observed how top presidential contenders in the Senate have consistently voted against Trump’s cabinet nominees. Irrespective of posturing, these early favorites to seek the Democratic nomination all share a common problem—geography.
Major contenders all come from coastal states. Cory Booker (NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) are the most prolific examples. Both were top Hillary Clinton surrogates in 2016.
Booker became the first Senator to testify against another during a confirmation hearing, opposing Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Warren was formally silenced by her GOP colleagues for “impugning” Sessions, reading a letter from the widow of Martin Luther King criticizing his civil rights record.
Booker and Warren are both smart, passionate and articulate, and liked within the Democratic Party. At the same time, liberal critics contend Booker is more theatrics than substance and too comfortable with Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry, while Warren is too old and has no appeal to independents and moderate Republicans.
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Kamala Harris (CA) are two lesser known Senators the base is more enthusiastic about. Gillibrand said she will serve a full term if re-elected in 2018, but that could always change. Harris was just elected to the Senate, but Mollie Reilly of The Huffington Post quickly identified several reasons why she thinks the freshman Senator may become the first woman president.
Much has been written about the advanced age of prominent Democratic leaders, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Age is not really the problem. Geography is.
Democrats would agree all four of these contenders would do a great job and be a significant improvement to Donald Trump. The problem for the party is that Democrats disproportionately reside on the coasts and cities, so they need to worry about the rest of the country.
The Midwest is a key component of a successful Democratic electoral map in 2020 as newly elected DNC Chair Tom Perez seeks to rebuild the Blue Wall. The debate that will unfold over the next year and a half is whether residing in a Midwestern state will be a desired perquisite to sufficiently carry the region.
Luke Perry is Chair and Associate Professor of Government at Utica College.