Why Are 2020 Democrats Pulling Punches with the Front-Runners?

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden greet each other Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Joe Biden officially entered the 2020 presidential election in the wake of multiple allegations of inappropriate touching. Some believed that Democrats already in the race had somehow orchestrated these allegations, but when Biden finally entered the race, none of his opponents seemed to call him out on his inappropriate behavior. Kamala Harris did go after Crazy Uncle Joe for his past support of busing and working with segregationist Democrats. She got a temporary boost in the polls and then she quickly faded away. Others in the crowded field of Democrats hoping to face Donald Trump in 2020 have taken a few potshots at him that have made for amusing moments during the debates, but none of Biden’s opponents have yet to call him out over his quid pro quo with Ukraine, and his son selling access to the Obama administration.

Elizabeth Warren appears to be on the rise, and she was always considered a top-tier candidate even though she represents two unforgivable sins of the left: white privilege and cultural appropriation. Not once have any of her opponents called her out for pretending to be of Native American heritage to get ahead in her career. If she faces Donald Trump in the general election, do you think she won’t have to answer for that? It’s a huge stain on her record that none of her Democrat opponents dare call her out on.

Bernie Sanders was averaging above 20 percent before Joe Biden officially entered the race and hasn’t been able to reclaim that support. It’s too early to say what effect his recent health problems will have on his poll numbers or his campaign, but if he drops out, it’s likely most of his supporters will go to Elizabeth Warren. If he doesn’t, how many of his opponents will target his apparent poor health?

According to the current Real Clear Politics average, sixteen Democrats are polling in single digits, with Biden, Warren, and Sanders collectively earning the support of two-thirds of Democrats. No one in the Single-Digit Crew has a viable path to the nomination while the top three maintain such a large share of support, yet none of them are going for the jugular with their attacks. Most of the Single-Digit Crew are polling at less than 3 percent. They have nothing to lose. All three frontrunners have serious liabilities that will be exploited by Trump in the general election but aren’t being addressed by candidates who desperately need to siphon support from them to have a chance at a viable path for the nomination. Why not?

All of the frontrunners are benefitting from the fact that everyone is treating their primary like the general election and focusing their fire on Trump—which hasn’t done much to move the Single-Digit Crew into double-digit territory. If they don’t change their strategy soon their campaigns will be over before long.



Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis