Tuesday, December 11, 2018

12 Days of Slats and a 2020 Straw Poll

From the Pleasantly Festooned Volcano Lair of S. MacCune
[A subduction zone near you…]

Just like how Bruce Dickinson wanted, nay, needed more cowbell, the readership numbers tell the tale:  you are clearly demanding more Slats.   Fortunately, what with “Sparty” and his December schedule, I am in a singular position to generate the content you seek.  It’s like the Christmas of ’83 all over again, back when I was the only licensed Cabbage Patch Kids distributor in all of Belgrade.  Hauled in a yacht-load of dinars.  Used the proceeds to invest in Zastava Automobiles, maker of the Yugo.  It was a sound business decision…for a while.

So MoveOn.org conducted a straw poll of its members regarding 2020 Democratic presidential campaign preferences.  The results can be found here.

Here is what is noteworthy:

1)    So Someone else/DK/Other placed first, 28.8%.  That is to be expected.  It’s important to remember that Jimmy Carter won the Straw Poll organized by The Des Moines Register at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Ames in ‘75 with only 23% of the vote and it was a huge boost to his candidacy.  Reporting on the event, The New York Times’ own R.W. Apple noted that “Mr. Carter, whose Presidential aspirations have been considered laughable by many Washington experts, won 23 per cent of the total.”  Oh how quickly Conventional Wisdom can be upended.  Carter went on to place first amongst the candidates in the Iowa caucuses with 27%, behind Uncommitted (37%), but he established himself as a serious contender who would go on to win both the nomination and the General Election.
2)    Beto O'Rourke (15.6%) placed first.  Like Mick Jagger, he is running hot...at the moment.  He also occupies what has historically been a “golden” position for Democratic candidates:  progressives think he is a progressive; moderates/centrists believe he is a moderate/centrist.  That is the formula that worked for Carter and Bill Clinton, and (to a somewhat lesser extent) for Kerry and (arguably) for Hillary Clinton in ’16.  Greater scrutiny, by the media and by his Democratic opponents, should he enter the race, may imperil his current perceived positioning, but many would-be D presidential aspirants would love to have such problems.
3)    Joe Biden (14.9%).  Do NOT read this as a sign that centrists are resurgent.  Regardless of Joe’s voting history in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, a fair number of those who indicate a preference for the former Vice President are viewing him through the Obama lens, which gives him a more progressive tinge.  One thing is certain, in a contested primary, his entire record will be discussed and dissected…at length.
4)    Bernie Sanders (13.1%).  In 2016, the vast majority of MoveOn members backed Sanders over Clinton.  Should the Senator from Vermont be concerned about a drop-off in support?  Not really.  In 2016, Sanders was the obvious choice for most progressives.  Now, MoveOn members and other left-of-center voters face many choices and folks (the ones paying attention at this point at any rate) are doing some browsing. No harm in that…but one would expect to see his numbers climb amongst MoveOn members shortly after a Sanders “I’m in” announcement.  If he stagnates with this constituency, he will have a hard time rolling into the Convention with a majority of delegates.
5)    Kamala Harris (10%).  Again, she is not a down-the-line liberal on certain issues (most notably, one should review her complete record on law-and-order and civil liberties issues) but, right now, she is a favorite among progressives.  On a debate stage with candidates such as Sanders or Warren or Brown, she probably wants to hold a “practical progressive” sort of positioning, but that will be a hard fought space on the continuum. Remains a candidate with a great deal of potential upside - and who can rally the entire party around her.    
6)    Elizabeth Warren (6.4%). Personal opinion:  she should have run in 2016.  I think she has lost some of her luster over the past couple of years.  Frankly, she should have polled better amongst MoveOn members, considering her national profile.
7)    Sherrod Brown (2.9%).  Speaking of national profile, he doesn’t have much of one, yet, so the fact that he finished ahead of Bloomberg and Booker is all gravy for him.
8)    Amy Klobuchar (2.8%).  Good recent visibility.  Swing-ish state in a key region.  Feels like a candidate who could slowly build a solid base of support among progressives, with a low-key approach that would contrast well with Trump’s over-the-top demeanor.
9)    Michael Bloomberg (2.7%).  Pass.
10) Cory Booker (2.6%).  I have a feeling that he is the second or third choice of many current Beto voters, which would explain his fairly unimpressive showing.  Still, he is my current pick for the potential D candidate most likely to change messaging strategies the most between now and Iowa.

Time to turn in.  How's that for a tagline.


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