Voting Booths

To help us understand one portion of the 2020 Democratic electorate, Jonathan Capehart provided us with some interesting tidbits about how African American voters are evaluating the race after attending a family reunion in North Carolina. Here are some of the highlights.

  • “Warren is eliciting excitement among black voters because she talks to them not as voters to whom she must pander but as voters worth pursuing.”
  • “I couldn’t help but be surprised by how many times Buttigieg was mentioned…’I like him because he was straightforward,’ one relative said.”
  • “Twenty of the 26 people said Biden was their first choice. The No. 1 reason mentioned is Biden’s experience.”
  • From one aunt: “The whole world is in a crazy state, and somebody’s gotta put it back in order. And I think a lot of the young people who want to put it back in order, want to change it completely. But first, you’ve got to put it back in order before you can start changing it.”
  • “While ‘no second choice’ got the most votes when I asked for a Plan B, Harris was the person who was most mentioned as a second choice for Democratic nominee.”
  • “I came away with the distinct impression that where Harris is with these black voters is where Obama was with African American voters about this time in 2007.”
  • “My 26 relatives want to win. While they love Biden (or whoever their first choice is), they will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee next November, thus making them part of the growing ‘vote blue no matter who’ chorus among the Democratic Party faithful.”

Among Capehart’s family, Biden is big. But he also heard a lot about Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris. It was also interesting to hear the pragmatic argument for putting things back in order prior to making big changes. But the major takeaway is that these voters plan to vote for the Democratic nominee, no matter who that is.

I hadn’t heard the “vote blue no matter who” mantra before, but it seems to be making waves in the merchandising business. Apparently there are those on the far left who don’t agree, but I suspect they’re in the minority.

Capturing the same theme is the “We Are Indivisible 2020 Pledge.” They have both a grassroots and candidate version. Here is the latter.

We must defeat Donald Trump. The first step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee. The second step is winning the general election. We will not accept anything less. To ensure this outcome, I pledge to:

Make the primary constructive. I’ll respect the other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with my vision for the future.

Rally behind the winner. I’ll support the ultimate Democratic nominee, whomever it is — period. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No third-party threats. Immediately after there’s a nominee, I’ll endorse.

Do the work to beat Trump. I will do everything in my power to make the Democratic Nominee the next President of the United States. As soon as there is a nominee, I will put myself at the disposal of the campaign.

Of the 25 Democrats in the race right now, only five have not signed the pledge: Bennet, Gabbard, Messam, Sestak, and Yang. Perhaps that is merely an oversight. But it could be that one or more of them wants to keep the door open to run as a third party candidate. As Josh Marshall explains, that would play right into Trump’s hand.

As we’ve seen both before his election and since, Trump is a minority candidate, essentially a factional leader, who has incredibly durable support of between 35% and 45% of the population. He really, really needs the presence of spoiler candidates to pull the contest down into the mid-40s where it was in 2016. I’d never say never. But I think there’s a good argument that a significant third party/spoiler candidacy — or ideally more than one — are the necessary predicate of Trump’s reelection.

Back in 2004, I went to hear a speech by the late, great Molly Ivins. At the time, I was trying to decide whether to be bold or pragmatic in my choice for who to support in the presidential primary. She uttered these few words that sealed the deal for me: “In the primary, vote with you heart. In the general, go with your head.” Knowing that, I’m pretty sure that Ivins would approve of the “vote blue no matter who” mantra when it comes to the 2020 presidential election.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.