Here is my prediction for the 2020 Democratic Primary as of October 2019; the race for the democratic party’s nomination for president will go all the way to the 2020 party convention and it will be a contest between Sanders and Warren much like how the 1932 convention was a contest between FDR and Al Smith.
I base this analysis on my lifetime of political activism and my experience as a professional political organizer. I should note here that I am an explicit Sanders supporter, but this is not about who I think should win. This is a prediction for how I think the winner will be decided.
Here is why I see this primary going all the way to the convention.
Biden will most likely drop out after the first few election results come in. It is possible he may stay in the race until the convention as well, but I doubt it. He most likely will stick it out for the first few primaries but I guarantee that the results will not be great for him and he will be forced to eat crow.
Biden has slipped since each debate and he will continue to slip until his name recognition has depleted all it’s usefulness. Remember, the only thing Biden has going for him is name recognition, his policies are still exponentially unpopular compared to Warren or Sanders.
Warren supporters are set on electing Warren. They cannot be budged. They are dedicated to Warren and will stay dedicated, I do not see Warren supporters coming into the Bernie camp anytime soon. In fact most Warren supporters rank Bernie not even as their second or third options.
The 20-22% that Warren currently has cannot be shaken from supporting her. Her washy answers about her past views on gay marriage and her speeches to conservative groups in the 90s have not turned anyone in her base against her. They will leap to her defense at any point. To them it is all just proof that “people can change.” Warren will always have at least 20-22% support of Democrats throughout this election and that number is likely to go up when Biden drops out.
Not all of Biden’s supporters will flock to Liz Warren though. I honestly think there will be a split of Biden’s current 22% between Sanders and Warren and it will be fairly even. While their platforms are vastly different, some in the Biden camp will be attracted to Bernie’s pro working class rhetoric, while others from Biden’s camp will follow Warren because of her association to the Obama administration, the only other thing Biden has going for him besides name recognition. The people in Biden’s base who support him because he was Obama’s VP will most likely find more comfort in Warren than Sanders.
The split of Biden’s base between Warren and Sanders will be factors that carry them both into the convention.
Warren and Sanders are polling closely in all of the early election states and as the primary draws closer with each day the differences between the two will become more prevalent but for many it still represents a difficult choice that Democrats seem fairly evenly split on.
One candidate preaches comprehensive systemic change, the other preaches increased regulation. This is one of the biggest divides amongst registered democrats, do we outright abolish or reform capitalism? The two candidates who best represent the two sides of that question are Sanders and Warren. Between their equal levels of popularity, both are representative of the state of the left’s electoral challenges.
The democrats are no longer just capitalist liberals, in fact the party is now made up more of progressives and socialists than ever before. This is what makes it hard for some people to choose between the two. Socialists have their heart on Sanders because we need to stick with our own. The progressives who identify as Warren supporters support her for a number of reasons, the biggest being the desire many have to see a female president. Yet despite being representative of an oppressed community, it does not change the fact Bernie Sanders still has a better track record with fighting for oppressed communities.
This is what will carry on into the convention, it is no longer an argument of going left as Democrats but the argument is how far left will we go. Warren is a baby step to the left and Sanders is a giant leap. We can have Warren’s progressivism or Sanders’ socialism and because the support between Sanders and Warren is so close the decision will most likely be left to democratic convention delegates.
Because the democratic party itself is in such disarray and split between the capitalist and socialist elements the odds that one candidate will be unanimously rallied behind before the time of the convention are unlikely. Both front runners (sans Biden) have a dedicated base that will stay with them until the primary reaches its bitter conclusion. Sanders and Warren supporters cannot be budged.
Warren’s poor performance in the 4th primary debate complicates the equation though. Most people in her base think she performed with grace and patience but those outside of her base feel like she took a bad beating and did not reply strongly enough to the attacks against her. The argument most people have seems to be, “If she can’t handle Klobuchar or Buttigeig, how the hell can she handle Trump?” However her base, as always, remains unshaken and loyal to their idea of her. The debate performance was definitely enough to slow down her momentum but it will not be enough to reduce the loyalty of her followers.
Biden supporters will eventually have no choice but to pick between Warren and Sanders and that will result in a pretty even split. Warren and Sanders will both do well in their home states and the states that tend to always vote blue will most likely go to Warren, but Bernie is likely to build the most momentum in rural states and states that Trump won. The south is more likely to carry for Bernie this time but those states will also most likely be split evenly between Sanders and Warren. California, Ohio, and New York are the golden tickets though, and those are anyones game.
The key to winning this primary is not just in mobilizing in your states primary, the key will be getting your delegates to the convention. Democrats who want to support their candidate would be smart to mobilize their convention delegates as well as their campaigns, asap.