The Democratic primary is a two-horse race with Joe Biden in the lead, but it is far from over. Even after Biden’s victory in Michigan, giving him a clear advantage with just months left before the DNC convention in July, there’s still much maneuvering and politicking to be done.
As I often do, I will totally jump the gun and skip ahead to a conversation that we don’t need to be having yet, but is entertaining nonetheless: Who will be the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic side?
Here’s my picks.
For Bernie Sanders:
While Warren and Sanders had notable beef on the campaign, they’re not too far apart on their policies. Warren is clearly a more conventional candidate, and she can bridge the gap between the far-left and more moderate parts of the party, but she still supports major keystones of the Sanders’ campaign, like Medicare-for-All.
Her weaknesses as a pick come in the demographics of support. Sanders and Warren are nearly identical in geography — Sanders from Vermont and Warren from Massachusetts — and occupy similar bases on the left side of the party. Warren doesn’t help Sanders pick up votes in the south, even though she is originally from Oklahoma.
This is where Abrams comes in. While Sanders and the 2018 Georgia governor candidate disagree on a number of policy points — Abrams is more moderate — that’s where her strength lies. She can help pick up votes for Sanders in the inner parts of the party, showing that Sanders is willing to compromise and appeal to all voters.
Abrams also helps demographically, appealing to voters of color and coming from the south. Where she falters is that Sanders is likely not willing to compromise, especially since Abrams hasn’t been a vocal supporter of Medicare-for-All in the past.
Sanders may choose to double-down on his base, rather than expand it, and that’s where Khanna would fit it. A relative unknown, Khanna is a congressman from California who identifies as a “progressive capitalist.” Like Sanders, Khanna only accepts campaign contributions from individuals. Notably, Khanna is the co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 campaign.
Khanna doesn’t expand Sanders’ base, but it does lessen the critique of age, as Khanna is just 43. It helps that Khanna identifies as a capitalist, not a socialist, but ultimately, this pick wouldn’t do the job of widening the tent of Sanders’ support.
The same argument for Warren and Abrams can be made on Biden’s side, and those two candidates make sense — Warren would serve as a bridge to the left side of the party, and Abrams could diversify, both in age and background, Biden’s tent. But here are three more picks that Biden could go with:
Even though Harris brutally attacked Biden in the first debate, she has poured in her endorsement for the former vice president like so many others. Harris is young and sharp, both of which would benefit a campaign that often looks sluggish and is taking heat for dementia suspicions. The senator is also a moderate that appeals to younger voters, helping expand Biden’s base.
Harris’ weakness is the same as those that followed her on the campaign: her record as a prosecutor in California, and her unclear messaging on healthcare. However, with less attention as a VP candidate, the coupling could be powerful.
Okay, this one is a little out there, but hear me out. Amash was a Republican congressman from Michigan, but recently left the party and is now serving as an independent. While Amash differs significantly with Biden on his policies, he can be the ultimate unifier, showing that Biden will heal a broken country and win important states, including Amash’s home state of Michigan.
Or it could backfire, alienating both Democrats and Republicans, as Amash belongs to neither. It’s also very likely that Amash would flat-out refuse to accept the position, as he is nothing if not principled.
Likewise, Biden could pick Bill Weld, but Amash is younger and could pick up new demographics.
If you’re looking at winning the general, Yang may be the way to go. Out of all the Democratic candidates this year, Yang seemed to pick up the most cross-party support, speaking about issues in a way that is unfamiliar yet magnetic and charismatic. He speaks to Trump voters, offering a message of technological advancement instead of a message of “the other.”
And, at the same time, he can broaden the base; many Sanders voters had Yang as their second choice.
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Now, the waiting game ensues. Who will it be?
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