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Handicapping the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates: An Unscientific Poll

All area seniors are invited to attend the Monday lunchtime meetings of the Golden Age Club of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) at Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville. The meeting features either an entertainer or speaker. Lunch is provided for a suggested donation of $2.00 (for further information call the JCC at 609-606-7070). On November 5th I was honored to handicap the crowded 2020 Democratic Presidential field.

I used the opportunity to anonymously poll the attendees on their familiarity with the candidates and their candidate preferences.

I began my presentation by providing a thumb nail alphabetical description of 30 possible Democratic candidates: Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Corey Booker, Jerry Brown, Sherrod Brown, Steve Bullock, Julian Castro, Mark Cuban, Andrew Cuomo, Bill DeBlasio, John Delaney, Eric Garacetti, Kristen Gillibrand, Kamal Harris, Eric Holder, Jay Insloe, Tim Kaine, John Kerry, Amy Klobushar, John Hickenlooper, Mitch Landrieu, Jeff Merkley, Terry McAuliffe, Chris Murphy, Phil Murphy, Daval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Oprah Winfrey.

In an article in The Atlantic entitled "Ignorance Does Not Lead to Election Bliss", Jonathan Cole wrote, "While there surely are many varied causes for the current American political situation, one among those is the relative ignorance of basic American... what some refer to as "civics" among a large sector of our population. It is testimony to the failure of the country's education system that a high percentage of the voting-age population is simply ignorant of basic facts -- knowledge that is necessary to act reasonably and rationally in the political process."

Unlike the majority of Americans, the Golden Age Club, composed largely of Jewish seniors in their 70-80s, are quite knowledgeable about politics - with the majority of the 19 attendees having heard of at least half of the 30 candidates discussed.

Table I presents the finding, of my unscientific poll of the 19 meeting attendees (17 Democrats and 2 Independents):

Candidate First choice Second choice Third choice
Joe Biden 5 6 3
Mike Bloomberg 6 3 1
Elizabeth Warren 3 0 5
Corey Booker 1 3 1
John Kerry 1 2 1

The top choices were Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg. I gleaned from my discussion with the attendees that the reason these candidates made the top of the list was because these were the ones folks felt had the strongest likelihood of "standing-up" to President Trump in what would, no doubt, be vicious no-holds barred campaign.

I closed my presentation by indicating who my top three choices were based largely on who I felt had the best chance of beating President Trump: Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobushar and Sherrod Brown. My long-shot candidate was former Massachusetts Governor Daval Patrick. Like many of the Golden Age Club members, I yearn for a more ideologically progressive candidate like, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, but believe that a more moderate Democrat would have the best chance of beating Trump by garnering Rust Belt voters.

In my presentation, I indicated why I felt that a candidate from the heartland of America, rather than a candidate from either the east or west coast would have a leg-up in the campaign as Democrats try to lure back demoralized white collar working-class voters without a college degree who felt abandoned by Democrats who they saw as more concerned with minorities, immigrants, L.B.G.T. than them.

Democrats need a candidate who can speak to those less-tech skilled Americans who once held well paying manufacturing jobs that no longer exist due to accelerated automation. Instead of exploiting their fears and catering to racism, bigotry and xenophobia; we need a candidate who can present a persuasive plan that includes providing incentives, support and programs to equip these folks and their children for the jobs of the 21st century.

I noted that my top choice, Michael Bloomberg, is clearly not from America's heartland having served for three terms as the Mayor of New York City. However, I feel that Bloomberg's business acumen, strong commitment to philanthropy, even-tempered demeanor and data-driven approach to the management of government would insulate and make him more impervious to many of Trump's attacks. It would be hard to characterize Michael Bloomberg as low energy. Further, I have no doubt that Bloomberg would be able to get under Donald Trump's skin by contrasting how he earned his money and has used it for good vs. the President's history of stiffing dozens of businesses, taking unlawful charitable deductions and his numerous bankruptcies.

The heavily Democratic Golden Age Club did not take umbrage at my referring to the President as "nefarious." They were not put-off when I enumerated the synonyms of nefarious which included: wicked, evil, sinful, iniquitous, heinous, atrocious, vile, foul, abominable, odious, depraved, monstrous, fiendish, diabolical, unspeakable, and despicable.

They agreed that we need a candidate who can stand-up to our nefarious President who will do anything and everything to get re-elected, including flaunting our traditional democratic norms.

The upcoming 2020 presidential election will, no doubt, be the dirtiest and most important race in my lifetime. Democrats need a candidate who can stand up to the stench and stop the dismantlement of our democracy.