It’s too early to predict

Published 10:22 am Friday, July 31, 2015

As of this writing there are six Democratic candidates for President with the possibility of at least one more, Vice President Joe Biden, joining their ranks. So far the Democrats have had fewer moments in the media spotlight than their Republican friends seeking the highest office in the land.

Bernie Sanders would so far qualify as the most surprising candidate within the Democratic Party. Bernie is an independent socialist running as a Democrat, which in itself is surprising. But what is extremely surprising is the size of the audiences at Sanders public events, Bernie draws literally thousands of people when he speaks, more than any candidate in either party. And while many suggest Bernie has no real chance at the nomination, apparently no one has told Bernie that and he looks strong with his populist pitch.

Hillary Clinton has been, and remains, the leading Democratic candidate with a resume that includes first lady, New York senator, presidential candidate in 2008, and secretary of state. Clinton is also the first woman who could reasonably attain the presidency. Clinton excels at fundraising, controversy and control over her message. But Clinton’s polling numbers have taken major hits this summer as Republican attackers are scoring points with potential voters. Historically, betting against Hillary is not a winning idea though, so do not be surprised if Clinton rebounds. Sanders is pushing Hillary to the left on policy.

Jim Webb, ex-senator from Virginia with a military background and some conservative credentials, is so far hardly scoring in the polls. Webb is a smart guy, a clear thinker, but struggles at campaigning skills. It remains to be seen if Webb can generate enough interest to fund an aggressive campaign as he has only entered the race in July. It seems hard to imagine Webb taking the nomination from even a damaged Clinton.

Lincoln Chafee is an ex Republican senator, ex independent governor, and present Democratic candidate. Chafee has now sampled all the flavors of American politics and settled as a Democrat. Chafee is remembered as the lone Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war authorization. Chafee comes across as a nice man, soft-spoken and gentle. Chafee is strongest on foreign policy, where he is an advocate of restraint. But his chances are no better than minimal at best and his appeal is to white liberal voters. Chafee is a descendent of one of the five families who founded Rhode Island.

Martin O’Malley was mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland. It is a little secret that O’Malley is in the race should Clinton falter. Their policy positions are nearly identical but O’Malley offers a younger, higher energy alternative to Clinton. Like Chafee and Webb, O’Malley hardly shows up in polling, so his ability to survive might be a good finish if not a win in New Hampshire combined with serious faltering by Clinton. O’Malley uses rhetoric that is similar to Sanders in terms of populism and income disparity.

Joe Biden has the smile that every politician envies and the one-to-one glad-handing skills that are “old school”. But Biden has not decided if he will run or not, and he faces the issue of being overexposed at a time when the country may be looking for new faces. Joe’s face is anything but a new face. Known for his now famous oops moments, Joe remains a well-liked guy within the Democratic Party and is a strong campaigner.

Who will win the Democratic nomination? It really is too soon to guess.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.