No one knows. If this is how you are going to decide in the primary, I’ve listed some basic questions to help make sense of it. If you have other questions that should be in this list or other factors to consider, post them in the comments below.
At the time of this writing, I think the best answer is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Who polls well against head to head against Trump?
Bernie, Biden and Bloomberg.
Who has been vetted?
Sanders, Biden, Warren are well known. Bloomberg and Pete are wildcards.
Who has the money?
Republicans buy elections because “likely voters” just need to decide on the candidate. Democrats depend on “get out the vote,” which are harder to motivate through a commercial. I question whether commercials and mailers will motivate working class or “undecided” voters in a general election; they have heard the five years of negative news about Trump so more advertisements won’t move the needle.
That said, money is important and Bloomberg and Steyer have unlimited money. But Bernie has the next biggest war chest, a strong source of replenishing, diverse grassroots funding which is not only capital, but shows strong appeal to diverse contributors. Also, Bloomberg has promised to fund no matter who wins the nomination.
Who has the enthusiasm?
Trump and Bernie are leaders. The only way to defeat Trump is to get voters to turn out that are as passionate as his base is. Only one democratic candidate has a grassroots movement, and it’s a movement based on hope and strength and a message that we deserve better, that we are entitled. The other candidates are running based on fear – vote for me or Trump will win, that you can’t and that you don’t deserve. This ‘we must be adults’ strategy might appeal to people that hate Trump (and are already likely to vote in primaries), but I don’t see how it appeals to independent voters.
Who has the platform?
An “anti-trump” platform will lose in November. Voters, especially in swing states, want “real change.” Party politics, the status quo, and candidates who pander and say the “right things” are a turn off. We saw this in 2016, where the safe candidate calculated to appeal to everyone ends up losing. Independent voters respond to tangible ideas like “Medicare for All” and “Free Public College” or in the case of republicans, a “border wall” and “drain the swamp.” Those voters don’t respond to whatever it is that Biden, Pete and Bloomberg offer.
How will Trump attack the candidates?
Trump is going to run on the economy and against Clinton/Obama/deep state/fake news and corrupt Democrats. Trump’s weaknesses are his character/racism/sexism; dishonesty, corruption & nepotism; broken campaign promises on health care, bringing troops home and (to his base) the wall; and that he is a billionaire.
–Sanders: “Socialist” (already been priced in and still beats Trump in national polls); bad on economy; can’t afford the price tag; pro-soviet and un-American; crazy Bernie.
These attacks undermine Trump.
For instance, what Trump calls a successful economy highlight’s the rigged economy and that the system is broken for 90% of Americans. Saying Bernie’s social programs are too expensive highlight the absurd cost of endless war and border walls, tax cuts for billionaires and corporations, and exploding national debt. Calling Bernie “un-American” highlights Trump’s Russia ties, outsourcing manufacturing, hiring illegal labor, and disrespect for the constitution. The claim that Bernie wants to take away your health insurance falls flat next to Trump’s efforts to undermine medicare and obamacare.
Sanders is uniquely immune to Trump’s bashing of Crooked Hillary and the mainstream media, since HRC, DNC and MSNBC/CNN have worked against Bernie. Bernie – having voted against Iraq war – is well positioned to confront Trump on endless wars in the middle east and his failures to bring troops home. Sander’s un-impeachable character allows him to call out Trump on lies and dishonesty.
In contrast, other candidates have weaknesses that play into Trump’s strategy.
–Bloomberg: Another billionaire, no political convictions, narcissist, buys elections and politicians rather than play by rules, history of racist policies & workplace sexism; short. Trump wins on the economy.
Bloomberg is especially dangerous because his ad spending goes un-rebutted during the primary, but Trump and PAC’s will flood states with ads that will suppress the woman, minority and working-class vote. Nominating Bloomberg will give Trump a pass on his hard line tactics against immigrants (akin to stop and frisk) and misogyny. It will also show that Democrats are the party where Billionaires can just buy their way in; at least Trump had to win grassroots support.
–Warren: Also “Socialist” (but say she believes in regulated capitalism and that will sink her); misrepresenting herself and denying who she really is; perceived weak on foreign policy (as proxy for “don’t vote for a woman”); not sure if common voters can relate to her. Trump will focus on her willingness to compromise as evidence she is not a leader.
–Biden: Looks weak; ineffective; no enthusiasm, out of touch & senile. Hunter mess gives Trump a pass on his own corruption. Obama 2.0. Trump has been running against Obama for six years and my guess is that of all the candidates, he wants to run against Biden.
–Pete: No experience, no platform, no vision. Overplays his accomplishments because he has none. Inspirational, vacuous oratory loses to straight talking Trump.
–Klobacher: Who? Against Trump, really?
Who can lead a Trump opposition?
Most primary democrats are blue no matter who. Beyond that, Bernie, for three reasons:
- He appeals to the greatest number of voters, just not the ones that already have power.
- Bernie is not a democrat.
- A lot of Bernie supporters went for Trump over HRC, and we risk losing those voters if Bernie is not the nominee (especially if it even looks like the primaries were rigged against him).
- America loves an underdog.
Bernie is a leader with a credible message, grassroots movement and the ability to go head to head against Trump. Many people don’t see this because the mainstream media and DNC leadership are against Bernie. But remember that the media and the DNC are influenced/owned by rich people who would be financially better off under Trump than under Sanders.
But the bottom line is that if we are willing to get our friends and family members involved, then no matter who the candidate is, Trump is probably going to win. I hope you can figure out who is going to best defeat Trump, and then tell motivate all of us to vote and organize. And if you want to help Bernie, there are a ton of things you can do that are really easy and I’d be so happy to talk with you about it.