Election 2020 National Opinion The Counter Opinion: Reflections on the 2020 Democratic party candidates By The New Political Posted on December 12, 2019 18 min read 0 0 40 Graphic by Maggie Prosser Sen. Kamala Harris announced last Tuesday that she is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race due to a lack of funding, becoming one of many candidates who have already dropped out. Two other candidates from the Democratic party dropped out at the same time as Harris: former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Before Harris’ announcement, Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, along with a slew of other lesser-known candidates, also dropped out. Currently, there are only four candidates above a national polling average of 3%, making them the frontrunners. These frontrunners also have the highest individual contributions and the highest weekly news coverage. We asked our opinion writers about their thoughts on Harris’ termination of her campaign and the status of the candidates still in the race. Contributing are Zach Richards, a sophomore education major, Maddie Kramer, a junior political science major and Charlotte Caldwell, a sophomore journalism major. If Harris hadn’t dropped out of the race, would she have eventually regained her position as a frontrunner? Zach: I don’t think she would have. In terms of the polls, it’s been a very boring, static Democratic race with not many shifts. Harris jumping up to a top-tier position only to drop back down afterward was one of the few shifts there were. Harris’ campaign was just having too many issues. It was disorganized and often divided between different factions, with little decisive direction from Harris herself. She had trouble establishing herself on either the progressive or moderate wing of the party, and the black voters’ overwhelming support for Joe Biden prevented her from even holding that vote. Maddie: Harris was a strong candidate on paper. She has a very impressive resume, from the California attorney general to the current California senator. She gained popularity during the Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in 2018, where she displayed her ability to remain tough under pressure. However, this didn’t entirely transfer to the debate stage. Her planted taunts at the front runners and clumsy jokes often felt misplaced and awkward. She gained attention from voters after taking jabs at the front runners, such as her iconic exchange with Biden during the first debate. She was always knowledgeable and composed, and it is unfortunate she didn’t always come across that way. Past voting record aside, Harris often tried too hard to seem relatable, earning her the title of the “fun aunt” as portrayed by comedian Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live. Harris most likely would have continued to trail behind Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and while I will miss seeing Rudolph on SNL, it was probably the best decision for her campaign. Charlotte: Harris had multiple issues with her campaign that she was never able to fully recover from. Her campaign subsequently dug up her sketchy past when she was a “champion for justice reform,” such as the scandal involving Harris’ district attorney’s office mishandling evidence, resulting in the dismissal of hundreds of drug cases. The most startling case against her claims that she always fought for justice reform is the comments that she would still uphold wrongful convictions even after they had a clear opportunity for leniency. Fast forward to the present, and one of Harris’ aides outed her, saying that her campaign staff was treated poorly, and there was no real plan for how to win the presidency from the beginning. With all of these issues and her nature of changing her views on the issues to suit the conversation, she would not have made it very far with voters. Who will be the next candidate to drop out? Zach: Either Sen. Michael Bennet or Julián Castro. There are other lesser-known candidates still in the race and unlikely to make another debate like Marianne Williamson or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, but they’ve received enough media attention to get tons of donations and have enough money to keep going for a while. I expect Bennet or Castro to run out of money and have to drop out because of that. Maddie: After months of two-night debates and more than 10 candidates on a stage, it is a relief to see some of the smaller candidates start dropping out. However, it is frustrating to see candidates like Tom Steyer and Gabbard still in the race when good candidates are dropping. Many candidates did not qualify for the December debate, and those who are lagging behind will probably withdraw from the race sooner rather than later. This includes Gabbard, as well as Sen. Cory Booker, Andrew Yang and Castro. John Delaney also did not qualify for the December debate and hasn’t qualified for a debate since July. As moderate candidates continue to drop out, such as Bullock and Sestak, it seems plausible that Delaney will also withdraw soon. Charlotte: Even though it doesn’t seem likely any time soon, Castro will most likely be the next candidate to drop out of the race. Since he is only polling at 1%, he has one of the lowest individual contributions and has the lowest weekly news coverage, his campaign has very few legs left to stand on. Considering he was not even on the debate stage in November, he most likely will not poll above 1% unless he can get name recognition through other means. It’s unfortunate to see a candidate with more potential than Yang — who only has a couple talking points on a good day but somehow has a 3% national polling average — have to drop out due to lack of campaign funds and low name recognition. However, once the lower tier candidates drop out, more attention can be focused on the candidates who actually have a chance in 2020. Who would be the best candidate to win the nomination? Zach: A good case could be made that either Biden or Sanders is the best candidate to beat President Donald Trump. The argument in favor of Biden is that he’s doing the best in head-to-head polls against Trump, better than Sanders, especially in states like Florida and Arizona. The argument for Biden is that he has shown an ability to attract moderates, and there are probably more swing voters who would vote for Biden and not Sanders, than far-left people who would vote for Sanders but not Biden. On the other hand, Sanders might be less likely to falter than Biden. Biden would probably decline in head-to-head polls against Trump as the campaign season wore on, but the most obvious attack against Sanders, that he’s a self-proclaimed socialist, is already pretty well known. Sanders has a higher favorability than Biden, even among Trump voters, and the best argument in his favor is that he will turn out voters who might otherwise just stay home, not all of whom are even far-left. Maddie: This is a difficult question for Democrats to try to answer. Many progressives, including myself, don’t want to see Biden get the nomination. The Democratic Party is split between far-left progressives who support Sanders and Warren and moderates who prefer Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Biden has name recognition and is associated with former President Barack Obama. However, he is also seen as “Uncle Joe” and often makes comments that seem out of touch or borderline inappropriate. His stuttering comments in debates make him look old and unprepared, which is further evidence that he would not be able to hold his own in a debate against Trump. Sanders’ talk of a political revolution and being a democratic socialist scare older and more moderate voters. However, Sanders has a large, devoted voting base from the 2016 election. The largely young and progressive voting block supports Sanders and Warren. The older democratic base supports Biden. This primary season will be interesting, as I am not even sure how it will turn out. Charlotte: While none of the candidates look like they will be able to put up a strong front against President Trump’s incessant attacks, an interesting choice would be Buttigieg. He is only 37, which is only two years above the legal age limit required to run for president. He would also be the first openly gay president if he were elected. But these things come up frequently for why he should be elected, underscoring a key point in terms of how he could unify the country against the partisan divide. Buttigieg has been prone to claiming the “Medicare for those who want it” slogan on the debate stage, which could appeal to both sides of the aisle, unlike the “Medicare for all” policies proposed by Warren and Sanders which only appeal to the far-left. Other policies that could be considered more moderate would be his ideas for student debt. Buttigieg would cancel some student debt, but he knows it is not feasible for college to be completely cost-free without enough government funds to provide for it. This was shown when he has frequently called out Warren’s lack of a plan for how she will fund all of her grand ideas on the debate stage. Any voter can appreciate a candidate who is real about the state of the country and what they will do as president instead of making bottomless promises. Although a dispute has been raging recently between Warren and Buttigieg’s campaigns over who is more transparent, Buttigieg has always come across as more genuine than all of the candidates combined and has a solid background to stand on in relation to modern issues. At this unique point in history for the U.S., a change, like Buttigieg would bring, is needed in the presidency to heal the issues that have been escalating in this country for years. Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.