Democrats Grapple With ‘Electability’ Question as White Men Lead Diverse Field

Reuters

Democrats seeking to unseat Republican U.S. President Donald Trump in 2020 will choose from the largest and most diverse set of candidates in history – yet, so far, two older white men are leading the pack.

The early dominance of former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, is raising uncomfortable questions about whether Democratic voters think a woman or minority candidate has what it takes to defeat Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

Women candidates played a key role in Democrats regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives last year. But they still face greater hurdles than men in seeking executive offices, and there is division in the party about what kind of candidate is best suited to win in November 2020.

“How do you beat Big Daddy Trump? One of the ideas is that you beat him with Big Daddy Joe,” Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and chairwoman of the California Democratic Party’s women’s caucus, said in reference to Biden.

Pelosi, who has not endorsed a candidate, did not say if she agrees with that assessment. She thinks a woman ultimately will end up on the Democratic ticket.

Ten of the 24 Democrats seeking the nomination are minorities or women.

They are all polling behind Biden and Sanders, who are getting the most support among Democrats in all demographic groups, including minorities, Reuters/Ipsos opinion surveys show.

Democratic strategist Rose Kapolczynski, who ran campaigns for former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, said that is not just because they are white men. “It’s because they’re well known and liked among Democratic voters,” she said.

She also said public debates this summer will give other candidates a chance to better introduce themselves to a national audience.

Biden has raced out to a strong early lead, helped by his name recognition and a sense among many voters that he may have the best chance of beating Trump in battleground states.

Stefanie Brown James, a strategist and cofounder of the Collective PAC, which backs and trains progressive African American candidates, said Biden is respected by African-Americans for his role in the administration of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.

“For the black community especially, this is a man who was an elder statesman who made the decision to be the number two to the first black man running for the office,” she said. “Speaking of privilege and ego, not a lot of people would do that.”

In Memphis, a predominantly Democratic and majority black city, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is white, and Senator Kamala Harris, who is of African-American and Indian descent, have devoted followings among Democrats of color, said Corey Strong, a former local party chairman. Senator Cory Booker, an African-American man, is also popular, he said.

But most people he has talked to still cite Sanders or Biden as their eventual pick, he said, in part out of concern that the other contenders will not be able to defeat Trump.

“A lot of people (are) saying, ‘I like this person’ but also saying ‘I want a guy that can win as well,'” Strong said.

MORE BARRIERS

Women and minority candidates fighting for attention in a crowded field also must overcome ingrained prejudices that affect voter choices.

Women are less likely than men to be chosen for executive offices such as president, according to research by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which studies elections.

While people will vote for a man they do not like, they generally will not vote for women they dislike, the research shows. And women must show they are strong enough to keep the country safe.

“If she’s going to be the decision-maker, voters have to be that much more convinced that she’s qualified,” said foundation spokeswoman Amanda Hunter. “There are even more barriers when they run for executive office if they happen to be women of color.”

The result is an unfair playing field, tilted against women and minority candidates as they vie for media coverage, donations and votes, said Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women.

“We are concerned about the never-ending narrative about ‘electability’ that seems to indicate that a candidate must be white and male to win,” Van Pelt said. “This notion has been knocked down repeatedly with the election of Barack Obama and, despite Russian interference and pervasive sexism, Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote in 2016.”

Harris has taken on the electability question on the campaign trail. At a speech in Detroit, she said the debate is often too simplistic by suggesting “certain voters will only vote for certain candidates” and overlooks the voices of black and female voters in places such as the Midwest.

Many party activists and voters say the Democratic nominee should be anyone who has the charisma, fortitude and support to defeat Trump – regardless of gender or race.

Voter Aleia White, 32, agrees. She would prefer, however, that the eventual nominees for president and vice president reflect America’s diversity.

“It’s important that the ticket represent our country,” White said at a recent campaign event for Warren in Ohio. “We’re not all white men.”

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker in Cincinnati; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)

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TOM
Member

A view that the demoncraps push hard is that there are not AMERICANS. There are blacks and there are whites. There are men and there are women. But they are not ALL Americans. This is very obvious in this article, which is surprising from a British “news” organization as Britain does not see color or gender the way the US does. They are much more about there are British and non-British.

TOM
Member

The demoncraps nominated Obozo and promoted him based on race. Obozo won the first time because of his race and the fact that the Republicans chose a candidate that was just more of the same as Bush junior. The second time around the Republicans still did not have a candidate that the people could get behind.

Ron Pauly
Member

Old Joe seems somewhat normal compared to the rest who come across as socialist and idiots. they all talk like we have an endless supply of money. Trump and Republicans are guilty of this also. The dollar is about worthless.

Otis
Member

Diversity? One thing they all have in common is that they are all inept and couldn’t lead a group of kindergarteners out to recess.

General Confusion
Member

“How do you beat Big Daddy Trump? One of the ideas is that you beat him with Big Daddy Joe,” Christine Pelosi Um, no… Christine is confused. Trump was elected promising change. Not that he ever meant to do that and he certainly filled the Washington swamp, not drained it. Socialism is rampant in his Republican party with $12B in handouts going to many corporate farmers alone last year, and $16B going to them soon. If anybody thinks Big Daddy Joe is going to do any better, think again. The confusion cloud is thick and heavy around you if you… Read more »

Paul
Member

Is Reuters continuing to promote the Democrat platform of identity politics? First with the headline “white men,” and then in paragraph 10 referencing only minorities and women. Is this truly what the Democrat platform is all about? I know it’s early and certainly, as we get closer to the primaries, the herd will begin to thin out. The article seems to point out that the Democrats are only concerned about the potential candidates running and not any of their positions on issues.

James
Member

Is 24 all they could find – so far – to waste time and money (and their Socialist BS) running against America’s greatest president since Ronald Reagan?

C’mon, dimwits. Dig up a few dozen more to make it at least appear to be some kind of a contest.

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