It’s been hard to figure if I should campaign for a Democrat for president before the February caucuses or whether I should remain neutral until the last minute to help our Big Grove precinct caucus go more smoothly.
Based on previous caucuses when there was a presidential preference, the precinct will not be close in 2020. Obama was a clear win in 2008, and in 2016 we had enough extra Hillary Clinton supporters to send a delegation over to Martin O’Malley’s group to make them viable and deprive Bernie Sanders of an extra delegate. At the convention, the O’Malley delegate came over to Clinton after the candidate dropped out of the race.
2008 got a bit ugly. I was the John Edwards precinct captain and was asked to be caucus secretary as I was in 2004. Throughout the difficult body counts and recounts people got impatient and things got a little heated and personal. It is a case for the temporary chair not to identify for a candidate until the last possible moment.
There is the issue of the work. In 2016 Team Clinton door-knocked and phone-called before the caucus like there was no tomorrow, hitting every part of our area, in cities and rural areas equally. I no longer do much of this work outside my own precinct but want to help. If I wait to declare, I’ll help a campaign in other ways.
In the run-up to the 2020 caucus most of the 20 or so candidates don’t have the management structure to canvass the way we did for Hillary. If we pick someone to support without adequate campaign infrastructure we’ll be on our own. That was the case in 2008 when hardly anyone caucused for Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd or Joe Biden. Between them there were about eight people in a caucus of 268 Democratic voters.
Local politics aside, I have been trying on t-shirts… it seems pretty clear Elizabeth Warren will be my pick if I do declare before the night of the caucus. Here’s my run-down of the field. Nota Bene: I will work hard and unconditionally to elect the eventual Democratic nominee regardless of who it is.
Based on Iowa polling, and according to 538.com, there are currently only five possible candidates who could win first place in the delegate count: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. If they had a breakthrough, which is possible this early in the cycle, Corey Booker, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke or Tom Steyer might be contenders for viability. My hunch is the first five could be viable and the top delegate getter will be one of them.
Narrowing it down, here’s where I land on the five most likely to be viable candidates in February 2020:
One knows there is trouble when Joe Biden’s campaign is weighing whether to scale back his public schedule so he won’t make so many gaffes. He is past his prime and every minute he stays in the race, he blocks others from advancing. I look around my precinct and don’t know who, except the 3-4 people who caucused for him in 2008, might do so now. One of the 2008 group died.
I like Pete Buttigieg but don’t feel he has the right kind of experience to be president. I heard him speak twice in person and each time I marveled at his oratory, but felt empty when he finished. He is clearly an up and comer in Democratic politics and his generational message is important. Sorry Pete, not this time unless you win the nomination.
Kamala Harris is the only one I haven’t heard speak in person. When she came to Iowa her campaign exhibited tremendous energy, of the kind one expects from a presidential campaign. She hasn’t been to Iowa that much. Friends of mine are ardent supporters and that matters in the caucuses. I have a few things to investigate, particularly her idea of privatizing Medicare, but specific policies don’t matter as much as the whole package. She gets positive marks for having won the U.S. Senate in the most populous state in the nation. I have no doubt she could scale her campaign to win the primary.
I haven’t liked Sanders since I met him in 2014. He’s more liberal than most and his policy positions haven’t changed much since he entered politics. I like some of his policy positions. We just didn’t click when we shook hands as he stumped for Bruce Braley. I also don’t see enough support as people who caucused for him in 2016 are finding their way to other campaigns this cycle.
That leaves Elizabeth Warren. I’ve been following her since she was elected from Massachusetts to the U.S. Senate. If she had run for president in 2016 I would have supported her. While concerned about a 70 year-old white woman president, her performance in Tipton allayed my concerns. She has a lot of policy statements and that matters little or not at all. I’ve watched her in the Senate and she supports legislation with which I mostly agree. Is the United States ready to elect its first female president? I have my doubts, but may be willing to throw in with Warren and try it again.
I’m trying on t-shirts, but the only one I bought has Warren’s name on it. If I declare, I’ll do it shortly after Labor Day. What I’ve found this cycle is there aren’t as many choices for president as it appears.