Since the first set of Democratic Presidential Debates, it’s been a rocky road for centrists. The heavy weight champ of centrism, Joe Biden, took some hits. And while some Biden supporters have been saying, “Well, it was just one poll!,” subsequent polls have shown that Biden has lost some steam. And the other centrists in the race are also having no fun. O’Rourke has seen a drop in support after his performance. Buttigieg has lots of money, but he has troubling signs of lack of support from black voters in the latest polls. Hickenlooper’s campaign appears to be in the first stages of a death spiral. And the other centrists really did not seem to have breakout moments from the debates, at least not yet.
There is still time, but some of the centrists running are not likely to get the nomination. And there a multitude of reasons why this is. And no, it’s not because the Democratic primary voters are all left wing nutjobs.
- I think that Biden’s electability argument was punctured by both Harris and Bennet. Biden’s supporters have this as one of his greatest strengths. But Biden didn’t adequately address Harris and Bennet’s critiques of his political messaging and strategy. If you cannot stand up to Harris and Bennet, how are you going to stand up to Trump? Once Biden is seen to lose support from Democrats, it gets harder and harder to claim you are the most electable Democrat. However, I expect Biden to remain in the race until Iowa and NH. He has enough establishment support to continue to then.
- While I liked O’Rourke running for the Senate, he has demonstrated that he is not ready for prime time on a national stage. Castro was able to pummel him in the debate. He is not growing as a candidate. In fact, he appears to be shrinking.
- Joy Reid pointed out very succintly that if Pete Buttigieg cannot have black supporters come out from South Bend and help sell his record, other black voters will not support him. And the polls are showing that Buttigieg is getting no real support from black voters. Buttigieg admitted that he has not coped with the racial problems in South Bend, but if you cannot do it in a small city, how are you going to address that nationwide? If you think you can go forward without black voters in Democratic primaries, talk to Bernie Sanders about his run in 2016.
- What to say about Hickenlooper? Yeah, he did some progressive things in CO, but he also had his failures too (big cuts to education). He wants oil and gas companies to be part of the solution for the climate change crisis? He basically had an ode to private insurance during the debate. And he spewed right wing talking points about Democrats. And how has all his supercentrism played out? He is now having to let go of several of his major staffers. Dead man walking. I think Joan Walsh is correct that Hickenlooper is probably auditioning for a columnist position at the NYT.
- And the rest? Delaney also has a love of private insurance and spreads lies about how Medicare for all will force rural hospitals out of business. Ryan is doing his bit for the all American forgotten white males in the heartland routine. Too bad he fumbled against Tulsi Gabbard. Bennet’s a nice guy. And Klobuchar seems like a nice lady. But they are not considered top tier contenders.
Yes, I will admit no votes have been cast. I have made that argument myself. There is still plenty of time before the early primaries. Who knows what might happen?
But as many who have identified themselves as moderates on Daily Kos like to remind me, moderate voters make up the bulk of the Democratic Party. The problem is that moderation is what nowadays? It might be helpful if we could agree upon some standard, besides maybe voting half the time for Democratic bills and the other half for Republican ones. I think that is more centrism myself.
Anyway, I will stipulate that the majority of the Democratic Party consider themselves moderates. And centrists claim that they are moderates. I don’t believe centrists are moderates, but I will let that go for now.
If the above is true, why aren’t the centrists doing better? Yes, Biden is the front runner for now, and he may keep that. But he has been stumbling. And his trajectory is not good.
“Well Merlin, there are so many centrists that they are splitting the vote with the other centrist candidates!” Yeah, so are the progressives. But Harris, Warren, and Sanders are considered in the top tier with Biden, and the other slot for now is Buttigieg. Three out of the top five are progressives or have a progressive message.
Frankly, several of the centrists have no big new ideas. It’s all stuff we have been hearing since the 90’s and Bill Clinton. And I doubt that Democratic voters will be moved by the same old message. If centrism is such a great message, how the hell did we end up with Trump?