About the only consensus to emerge from 2016 was that it was an extraordinarily unusual election cycle, from beginning to end.
One aspect that differentiated the cycle from most in the recent past was the enormity of the Republican field. The primary season kicked off with so many GOP candidates that the debates had to be split into two broadcasts, with the lower-polling members of the field serving as a not-ready-for-prime-time opening act for the main debate.
There was a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth throughout Republican Land about the number of contenders for the title. The early prevailing sentiment was that the pesky B Team contenders were getting in the way of smooth sailing for the complainer’s somewhat more mainstream and/or viable candidate.
That lament was voiced most often by the Rubio people, who were relying on a strategy that consisted of little more than than, “He’s the best choice because shut up.” It was also heard from Cruz supporters, John Kasich’s imaginary friend Clive, and the seventeen comatose Republican millionaires who had long ago vowed to vote for whichever Bush was running.
In the end, the size of the field was used by Republicans as an excuse for why Trump became the nominee. They were committed to not admitting why Trump was successful long before the Democrats got around to it.
There were some of us who had a “the more, the merrier” attitude about the number of Republican candidates. It was indicative of a deep bench, after all. Most tended to see it as a liability, however.
As the Democrats look ahead to 2020, they seem to be toying with a potentially large field of their own. The only names that haven’t been floated for a run are Hillary Clinton’s wine vendor and whichever Kennedy is currently out on bail.
While there were some ideological differences among the Republicans in 2016, the contrast between the Democratic old guard and new blood in 2020 could be entertaining.
For the sake of speculation, let us assume that Bernie Sanders will run as a Democrat if he decides to have another go at the prize he felt was taken from him in 2016, and there are plenty of signs that he plans to run.
That means that at one end of the spectrum, the Party of Youth and Diversity will be offering Sanders and Joe Biden, two extremely white septuagenarians. Even more interesting is the fact that the Democrats and their media mouthpieces have spent the last several months lauding the party’s progressive youth movement, yet Crazy Joe the Wonder Veep and Grandpa Freebies are leading the early polling.
Biden could be considered the Democrats’ more accomplished version of Jeb Bush: it’s a pretty safe bet that all of the old party money will instantly gravitate towards him should he enter the race.
Bernie is the elderly lunatic that the Democratic Youth found so fascinating in 2016.
It would seem that these two have all of the Democratic demographic bases covered.
The media, however, are still in the game. They are also an integral part of the Democratic Party machine. They have two potential candidates who they practically manufactured out of nothing and they want one or both to make a serious run.
It would appear that the most successful Democrat of the 21st century is interested in them as well:
Democratic stars Beto O'Rourke and Andrew Gillum both recently met with Obama, stoking speculation about 2020 bids https://t.co/tJ1Opn7a1b
— Politics Insider (@Politicsinsider) December 5, 2018
The biggest claim to fame for both Gillum and O’Rourke is that they lost races which allowed the MSM to portray them as moral victors. The old guys may have had real success in national politics, but these two have tingles running up and down every leg at MSNBC.
The media tried to will Hillary Clinton to victory in 2016 and failed miserably. They’re achy for a comeback victory. One should not underestimate the amount of effort that they will put into getting one of their handcrafted vanity projects a win.
O’Rourke was the bigger loser of the two, but he was a money magnet in the midterms and is seemingly the more viable national candidate of the two.
These four have been getting the heaviest media attention that past couple of weeks, but there are still a lot of names in the mix, even though the list has begun to pare itself down.
The “young vs old” battle is real, and may end up being spectacular. Jimmy Kimmel recently got in a few barbs about the Democratic front runners’ lack of youth.
While it will play out against the backdrop of age and youth, the real battle for the Democrats will probably be among the progressives.
Almost all of the young bloods fancy themselves progressive. It was, and to a large extent still is, Bernie Sanders who energized the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. No doubt Elizabeth Warren would disagree with that, but she’s running out of steam so quickly that even The Boston Globe is turning on her.
Assuming that Biden gets all of the old money if he runs, the real cannibalization will be the fight over the progressive piece of the pie. Sanders knows how to energize a crowd, and many of those who were devoted to him are still angry that the Democratic primary system was largely rigged against him. Their affections may not be so easily turned away from him just because CNN tells them that Beto is prettier.
Whichever progressive turns out to be Biden’s biggest primary threat, he or she will have to confront the reality that Wall St. money likes to spread around to both parties in a presidential election. The anti-corporate, anti-Wall St. rhetoric may get the kids frothing at #resistance rallies, but it can make for some deep-pocketed enemies that are difficult to combat during a general election.
Trump most likely did somewhat benefit from the size of the Republican field in 2016. In 2020 he may very well benefit from the size of the Democratic field.