With 2020 election politics already reaching a fever pitch, Democrats have a real opportunity to achieve a great and historic realigning landslide, building on their landslide in the 2018 midterms. However, they also face some risk of the ultimate recurring political nightmare, which they must avoid like the sword of hell from Satan, which happened in 2016 when Hillary Clinton won millions more popular votes than Donald Trump while Trump won the presidency. The consequences were catastrophic for the composition of the Supreme Court because of a handful of votes in a handful of electoral vote states.
The Democratic dream of a realigning landslide is now within reach because of the deep, powerful and unprecedented revulsion against the Trump presidency by a solid majority of American voters, and the growing public worry that Trump’s policies are causing an economic slowdown and increasing the dangers of a devastating recession.
This column considers the possibilities of the dream and nightmare scenarios from the point of view of the two Democrats I am most likely to support who are, in my view, the two most likely to win the nomination at this time: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Here is the most important political fact for today. According to the RealClearPolitics summary of all polling for general election match-ups as of Wednesday morning, Biden leads Trump by an average of 10.5 percent while Warren leads Trump by an average of 5.2 percent.
While these percentages shift often, polling clearly shows that Biden has long and steadily been ahead of Trump by huge margins that make a realignment election highly plausible. Warren’s numbers against Trump are not as strong as Biden’s but are generally improving with her increasing support and national visibility.
The danger for Biden is that he is running a general election campaign during the primaries, which makes him more vulnerable than pundits suspect to a coalescence of liberal voters as candidates drop out behind Warren or another leading progressive candidate such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The danger for Warren is that she is running a primary candidacy for the nomination in ways that could lock her into positions that make her less electable in the general election. If her polling against Trump continues to improve and she moves toward realigning strength, that enhances her possibilities to win the nomination.
Warren can make critical moves to broaden her appeal in a general election and enhance Democratic prospects for a realignment. She can take her progressive campaign for fairness and justice more forcefully to rural America, farmers, veterans and military families and aggressively blast Trump’s plan to take money away from military bases and families to finance his unpopular border wall.
Warren can meet at length with leading retired military figures and forcefully campaign to be commander in chief, unifier of the democratic alliance, opponent of dictators, supporter of human rights and leader of the free world— and blast the banana republic incompetence of Trump’s foreign policies, trade policies and revolving door of national security advisors and the crony capitalist corruptions that define the Trump presidency.
Warren can champion the right of every American to buy into Medicare, which would lead to a historic health care breakthrough that would win support from 65 percent of voters, without threatening 180 million Americans to terminate their private insurance including union or employer-provided policies—which would destroy the huge majority support that all Democrats can and should win.
Biden should continue reaching out to independent and moderate Republican voters but move beyond mere bromides of bipartisanship to reassure progressives that he will aggressively battle against the obstruction and Supreme Court-packing abuses of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republicans in Washington— who act like intimidated poodles of Trump shamefully backing his blundering incompetence, crony capitalist corruption and bitterly divisive attacks against fellow Americans.
A historic realigning election is within reach for Democrats who are smart and bold enough to seize the moment.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.