Status of the 2020 election, Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019

The 2020 election is ramping up right now, and the candidates are lining up, and there are multiple fantastic candidates right now.

The Republican Nomination will almost certainly go to Trump in 2020, but on the Democratic side of the aisle we have several really amazing people running, or who are almost certainly going to run.

Declared Candidates

I am going to break them down by their current role, ordered by likelihood of getting the nomination, with their number of twitter followers on their most followed account:

Sitting Senator

  • Elizabeth Warren, 2.2 million
  • Kamala Harris, 2 million
  • Kirsten Gillibrand,  1.33 million

Sitting Representative:

  • Tulsi Gabbard, 242,000

Former Representative:

  • John Delaney, 12,500

Former Cabinet Official:

  • Julian Castro, 169,000

The other candidates should run for congress or to be governor before they run for president, since they don’t have a record they can point to.

This race looks like a dead heat between Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. They both command over 2 million followers on Twitter, and have very strong progressive credentials. Neither have more followers than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she is unfortunately not old enough to run for President, or even Senator yet. I expect she will move up quickly. She will likely succeed whoever wins this year if she pays her cards right, which I expect she will. Of course, none of them have the 104 million followers President Obama has, and it would take a historic level of legislation for another President to do that.

Back to the Presidential race of 2020, not 2028. It seems to be a dead heat between Senators Harris and Warren when looking at their popularity on Twitter.  If we search their names on Google right now, Kirsten Gillibrand has 10.1 million hits, Kamala Harris has 38.9 million hits, and Elizabeth Warren has 175 million hits. For comparison, President Obama has 219 million hits. Elizabeth Warren has been in the Senate for a longer time than Senator Harris, which gives her the upper hand.

When it comes to their policies, they are all strongly liberal identical from what I can tell from Govtrack’s data, and we would do just as well with any one of them. Kirsten Gillibrand started as a Blue Dog in the beginning of her career, but has become significantly more progressive over her time as a member of Congress since 2007. She used to be a Blue Dog, but now her voting record is the most progressive of the three candidates. Senator Warren is the most centrist of the three Senators in the race right now according to her voting record.

Senator Harris is currently 54 years old, Senator Gillibrand so average for a Presidential candidate. Senator Warren is currently 69 years old, and if she wins the election she will be only a few months younger than when Trump was inaugurated two years ago. Senator Harris will be almost exactly as old as the median age for Presidents upon inauguration.

Gillibrand and Warren as I write this at 9:00 Pacific Time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day have not formally announced their candidacy yet however, but this doesn’t really matter in these first few months. Senator Clinton announced her candidacy a month before Senator Obama, but lost by a slim number of delegates despite winning the popular vote.

I will probably support Senator Harris in the primary from this point on. She doesn’t compromise her principles, is standing for badly needed police reform, opposes the death penalty, and has a flawless track record stretching back over a decade as a Federal Prosecutor. We will do very well if she wins the election. She is my top result when I fill out my answers on isidewith giving me affirmation she is indeed a candidate who shares my values, on top of observing her decisions in Congress.

Bernie Sanders and his supporters

There are already articles popping up online on sites like Jacobin criticizing issues with existing candidates for not doing enough, this article about Senator Harris is one example, and while they are fair criticisms from her record as a prosecutor, we live in an electoral system in every state except for Maine which punishes people for voting third party. The spoiler effect is a very real problem which must be addressed.

We deserve to have a robust debate in the primary with the candidates who are running and fully examine their records. But, at the same time the number one goal of 2020 is to ensure Trump leaves office and that the Democrats recapture the Presidency and hopefully the Senate as well. We made very important progress in 2018, picking up governorships in Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, and Maine. This will make a tremendous effect on the federal House of Representatives for the next 12 years since the governors of those states have the authority to veto gerrymandering, which will make a much more competitive House. We now need to continue that progress into 2020 and get the first Democratic federal trifecta in a decade.

Senator Sanders might run in 2020. If he won he would be the oldest President in history at 79 years old on inauguration day. He would be 83 when he would run for reelection, or in all honesty, more likely retire. He will not live forever, and we need to foster new candidates like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who have his level of integrity and service to our country.

Any of the candidates I listed at the top of this piece would be fantastic presidents, and none of them are perfect, but no one is. We need to fight like hell for what we want and deserve, and remember that the idea of production possibilities frontier is very much part of politics as much as it is in economics. It can only be reached by fully striving for what you want, realizing you probably won’t get everything, which is the optimal strategy.

The question starts with, who are the best candidates in 2020? Of the top 10 sitting Senators in 2017 (excluding Al Franken), both Harris and Gillibrand are on that list. Only Sanders (VT), Merkley (OR), and Markey (MA) are more progressive than Kirsten Gillibrand. Van Hollen (MD) and and Reed (RI) are between Gillibrand and Harris. We already have two of the most progressive senators in America in the race, so not voting for one of them for not being progressive enough would be counter productive. Based on my knowledge of biology which I have learned from working in a lab and being around biologists for the vast majority of my life, I oppose GMO labelling because it is fear mongering, which is one of a handful of issues I disagree with Senator Harris on. But this doesn’t mean I will oppose her and stomp my feet and cry about it, because I agree with her on the vast majority of issues. We already have two of the best candidates America can offer today.

Other potential sources of Candidates

What about Governors however? Well, currently if we take a list of current Democratic Governors who have been office since at least 2016 (since it would be very unusual for someone to be elected with only 2 years of experience) and will be less than 70 then Governor Cuomo of New York has the most Twitter followers with 848,000 followers. No Governor has the level of familiarity and popularity they will need to successfully win the candidacy. Governor O’Malley’s record in Maryland was as close to stellar as you will ever find, massive reductions in police brutality given reforms he signed into law, college tuition was going down, and the quality of life in Maryland is one of the best in the country. That was not enough to win the Presidency however. The next President will almost certainly come from the Senate.

This is why I am expecting it will be a dead heat between Senators Harris and Warren. they are extremely similar candidates, Harris is to the left of Warren according to GovTrack data, and Warren is still a very progressive politician. Harris already has donations from every state in America to her campaign and will win the Presidency if she is nominated.

Going Forward

With two outstanding progressive candidates with two of the best records you will ever find, the big question now is how do we get candidates down ballot in every race in the country and ensure our election system is fair.

The most important reform right now which is needed is ranked voting for as many races as we can possibly get. America cannot afford another spoiler effect. We deserve a political system which fulfills the three goals of politicians working together to solve problems, a civil body politic, and rewards candidates for being true to what they say. Ranked voting does both of these, by punishing candidates who simply bombast another candidate with no merit so they don’t get the second choice votes from other candidates, and ensuring there will likely be a likely challenger from all sides for moderate candidates. Single Transferable Vote also fixes gerrymandering as long as you have at least 3 candidates per district, while also not giving the power to the hands of unelected party elites. Some will argue that it fails the participation criteria, which is true, but given the choice between the mutual majority criterion (the candidate who wins must win a majority of the vote) and the participation criterion, I believe the mutual majority criterion is more important, particularly after living through the Presidencies of both Bush and Trump.

This year and In 2020 we are going to have legislative races in every state, local races all across America, and that is where great leaders are born. the current status of partisan trends is as follows (from Ballotpedia):

  • Democratic Trifectas (14)  – Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine
  • Republican Trifectas (24) – Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida
  • Democratic Governor, Republican Legislature (8) – Montana, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia,North Carolina, Louisiana,
  • Republican Governor, Democratic Legislature (4) – Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland,

We finally have fewer than half of the states in the United States under a Republican Trifecta, however 27 million more Americans live in states with and  Republican Trifecta than a Democratic Trifecta.

Due to the fact that states range in population so much, despite Republicans holding 27 governorships in the country, Democrats have won more votes for governor over the last election for every state, according to the data I have collected from Wikipedia. Unsurprisingly, Democrats wasted almost 3 million votes in California in the last election, as well as 1.2 million in New York. The only state where Republicans wasted over a million votes was unsurprisingly in Texas. However, when you add it all up Democrats have received more votes despite not controlling a majority of governorships.

The closest governor’s race which went to the Republicans in the last elections with margins of less than 2% of the vote were in Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Dakota. We are going to have to wait until at least 2022 to get back Florida, and Georgia which are the two states which really matter. The way to do this is to fight election fraud in the courts by using the justice department to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  This will only happen if we win the Presidency in 2020 which will likely happen. We are unfortunately too late to do this in time for the redistricting after the 2020 census, so these legislatures are lost until 2030. Oh well, #Jillnothill.

2020 is not going to be a really big year for picking up seats in state legislatures unfortunately, but 2022 is going to be the year where we are going to have a gigantic slate of new progressives running in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Minnesota, potentially turning them into Democratic  Trifectas. If we get the Presidency in 2020, than we can use the justice department immediately to go after gerrymandering in Ohio, and Florida which will make competitive state legislatures in both of those states. We need to go after gerrymandering of the Congressional Districts at the same time. The big issue here is that there are going to be a whole bunch of judges who were appointed by Trump in the district and appellate courts who will likely stop any effort to overturn illegal gerrymandering in a partisan manner. Oh well, #Jillnothill. We are going to need to get the Presidency for a full 8 years in order to be have any chance at all to replace one conservative justice on SCOTUS. Our only possible way out is if it turns out that Donald Trump’s Presidency is unconstitutional (which it probably is) then every decision he has made is also unconstitutional, and we might be able to make all of his decisions null and void under the constitution. This has never been tested before because we have never had a situation like this before in American history. If that is the case than the appointments of both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are unconstitutional, and their place on the court is null and void. This would give the winner in 2020 two SCOTUS appointments from day 1 and also the ability to appoint successors in their place. This is probably the easiest way out of our current constitutional predicament given how yuong Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are. The other option is to increase the court size by 2 which would effectively nullify their appointments. We then just have to make sure United Russia does not take back the Presidency any time in the near future so we can keep them on the court for a while. We could do this in 2021 assuming we take the Senate as well.

Speaking of the Senate, that was beyond a mess. Democrats pulled 59.3% of the vote and lost two seats. Losing North Dakota was a bummer, but even more disappointing was losing Florida by 0.2% of the vote (10,000 votes), especially considering the voter discrimination going on there. Indiana was another particularly close election. We need to fight voter discrimination as much as possible.

In next year’s Senate elections Democrats have two good pickup opportunities, in Maine and Colorado. Alabama will probably be lost which will put the Republicans at 52 seats and Democrat sat 46. In 2022 we will have opportunities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The earliest probable date for a Trifecta at the moment given the losses last year is going to be 3 January 2023. This is less than ideal, but the best realistic shot we have.

In order to win, Democrats need to run in every race in the United States, adopt proportional representation as part of the national party platform, and continue to stand for the principles of justice, science, and progress. Democratic Candidates in every race need to be well supported and we need good principled people running everywhere to accurately represent their communities and make a better country. It can only start at the local level by getting fantastic people into state legislatures. Occasionally an incredible candidate like Representative Ocasio-Cortez will come out of the woodwork to the national spotlight in no time, but this isn’t true the vast majority of the time. President Obama spent 10 years in the Illinois State Legislature before being elected Senator in 2004, which is a much more normal progression. The Congressional Research Service has excellent statistics here. Presidencies are won in legislative districts. If the Democratic Party does this well, it will control government for decades to come given how out of touch the Republican Party is today with American values. We need to move the Overton Window to be more focused on justice and equality.

Summary

  • We have about as progressive a slate of candidates as possible for 2020.
  • Democrats need to hold together as a voting bloc in 2020.
  • After gaining the Presidency the new President needs to push as hard as possible to fight voter disenfranchisement across America.
  • Democrats need to take control of the Senate after the 2022 elections.
  • The Democratic Party needs to support candidates in every legislative district in the country and fight for control at every level.

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