1. There seems to be 3 main paths for the Democrats to win in 2020 at this point.
Regardless of whether they are facing Trump or (hopefully) a Republican who has defeated him in the primary, I see 3 major paths for a Democrat to win in 2020:
- Option 1: Reinforce the blue wall among working-class whites in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania
- Option 2: Recreate the Obama coalition in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania
- Option 3: Drive up the Latino vote on its own enough to flip Arizona and reclaim Florida and North Carolina
2. Elizabeth Warren would lose to Donald Trump
If Democrats were to take one piece of advice from this list, this is it. There is this myth that Warren is the great Democratic savior who will rip the party from the grasp of Wall Street and be the great unifier of populists, progressives, and establishment Dems. The idea is that she falls into Option 1 above. Sometimes, the simple analysis is the right one: How would a Harvard professor turned Bureaucrat turned U.S. Senator from Cambridge, Massachusetts flip working-class whites in abandoned factory towns in Michigan?
3. Tulsi Gabbard may have one of the highest ceilings of anyone.
Gabbard is one of the few people who could honestly claim Bernie Sanders’ mantle. She shares his populism on trade and Wall Street. We may not yet be at the point where a Hindu from Hawaii can have national appeal, but she may fit the moment better than anyone else on this list.
4. The idea of a Joe Biden candidacy is a lot better than the reality of a Joe Biden candidacy.
The idea is that Joe Biden has rust belt sensitivities. The reality is that Biden is prone to gaffes and has a lot of ties to the banking industry. He wouldn’t have appeal to the Bernie Sanders wing of the party.
5. The best candidate has said he is not running.
In the past few days, Cory Booker announced that he would not run in 2020. He is perhaps the only person on this list who could viably go the Option 2 route of recreating the Obama coalition. He possesses the former charisma, and could also energize progressives.
6. At the long-shot table, either of the Castro brothers would be formidable.
They both have political experience and charisma, both have appeal across multiple wings of the party, and both would have decent odds of defeating a Republican in the general.
7. Red state governors deserve a hard look.
This list would include Steve Bullock in Montana and John Bel Edwards in Louisiana. Both of them are somewhat moderate and have had success in getting things done in their states. They are both popular at home, as well. If Democrats are willing to trade 100% ideological purity for a better shot at knocking off Trump, this might be something to look at.