Top Democratic Party donors are getting nervous about the 2020 election. And when several of them gathered in New York as part of an American Bridge dinner, they began reluctantly discussing the most recent presidential debate, which saw Joe Biden flail, Elizabeth Warren come under fire, and a decided lack of passion, charisma, or coherence among any of the leading candidates.
In a feature story in The New York Times, longtime Democratic Party activist Leah Daughtry told reporter Jonathan Martin: “Since the last debate, just anecdotally, I’ve had five or six people ask me, ‘Is there anybody else?’”
“It is a regular, if not quite quadrennial, tradition for a party that can be fatalistic about its prospects and recalls similar Maalox moments Democrats endured in 1992, 2004 and in the last primary, when it was Mr. Biden who nearly entered the race in October,” noted Martin. “But the mood of alarm is even more intense because of the party’s hunger to defeat President Trump and — with just over three months to go before voting starts in Iowa — their impatience with finding Mr. or Mrs. Right among the current crop of candidates.”
You’ll perhaps notice that in 2004 and the last primary, Democrats ultimately went on to lose the election…so perhaps their “tradition” is not unfounded. And even if you count 1992, you’re talking about a Democrat in Bill Clinton who won solely because Ross Perot acted as a spoiler, siphoning votes away from incumbent President George H.W. Bush. Take Perot out of the mix, and there remains serious doubts as to whether Clinton would have prevailed in that election.
In any case, it’s clear just from Martin’s article that these fears are widespread throughout the party establishment.
“There’s more anxiety than ever,” journalist Connie Schultz said. Married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Schultz said they were “both getting the calls.”
So is former New Orleans Mitch Landrieu. “I can see it, I can feel it, I can hear it,” he told Martin.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, there does not seem to be any diamond-in the-rough superstar who could jump in and change the party’s fortunes overnight. Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg are names being tossed about, but it’s not clear that they would bring anything to the race that isn’t already there. Sherrod Brown is beloved by the donor class (and by Obama), but he doesn’t have the kind of name-recognition to make a big splash. Eric Holder? Don’t make us laugh. John Kerry? Pretty sure we already saw how that story ends.
So it looks like Democrats are either going to be stuck with the lackluster Biden or the unthinkable Warren as the nominee, unless something changes in a hurry. And even if it does, it’s not clear that there’s anyone else on that enormous stage who can legitimately defeat President Trump.
And now you know why Pelosi changed her mind about impeachment.