Op-Ed: 2020 is around the corner, Democrats need a driver

With midterm elections at the end of this year, it seems that the common rhetoric revolves around the idea that Democrats will be able to, and are going to, sweep open seats across districts and states. Of course, with a recently substantial list of election victories, the conclusion that 2018 is the Republican Party’s worst nightmare is supportable, but the Democratic Party still has multiple questions that need to be answered, including the party’s plans on uniting supporters under one candidate for 2020.

In recent data from Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, former Vice President Joe Biden held a double-digit lead over his closest contender, Senator Bernie Sanders, for the 2020 Presidential ticket nomination. Biden polled at 27 percent support from Democrats, while Sanders polled at 16 percent. An immediate worry comes to mind with these two candidates: their ages, Biden being 78 in 2020 and Sanders being 79. These ages would beat Ronald Reagan, 73 at the time of his election for a second term. A younger candidate than Biden and Sanders would be ideal, like Senator Cory Booker, 48, or Senator Kamala Harris, 53, but both Senators currently poll at four percent support among Democrats. It seems the party is facing a significant age problem, and the solution needs to be a younger candidate who can appeal to both older and younger generations of voters.

Since 2016, the conversation about Hillary Clinton’s loss has centered around the fact that many voters, specifically in rural areas, felt ignored and lacked influence on various issues and topics. An ideal 2020 candidate would be able to understand the economic issues of these voters while also maintaining the strong stance on social issues that the party has taken in the past decade. The candidate also needs to acknowledge the fact that in 2016, 52 percent of white women and 62 percent of white men voted for Trump, while 82 percent of black men and 94 percent of black women voted for Clinton, according to CNN exit polls. These are significant differences in terms of race and gender, and these discrepancies have found themselves in more recent local elections as well, specifically Alabama, where black men and women elected Jones almost single-handedly, with 93 and 98 percent support respectively, according to CNN exit polls. In both of these elections, black voters were the driving force behind the Democratic candidate. 2020’s candidate needs to acknowledge that the supporter base of the party needs to be inclusive to people across different backgrounds in order to earn the majority of support from both Democrats and frustrated Republicans.

Of course, 2020 cannot be a topic of conversation without discussing Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey’s Golden Globe acceptance speech of the Cecil B. DeMille Award raised suspicion that she plans on running in 2020, and with this suspicion came both support and opposition. While Winfrey lacks public office experience, her influence as a political activist is unquestionable. According to a study from economists Tim Moore and Craig Garthwaite, Winfrey’s support for Obama delivered approximately one million votes in the 2008 Democratic primary. Despite this, Winfrey is not polling well, according to Politico. Against Trump, she led 40 percent to 38 percent, but 22 percent of voters were undecided. Winfrey also only polled 31 percent compared to Biden, who polled 54 percent, and 37 percent compared to Sanders, who polled 46 percent in Democratic primary polls. With these numbers, Winfrey may not be the best option for 2020. Yet, that leaves the question: who is?

Democrats have a tough job in 2020. Their candidate needs to bridge the gaps between people of multiple backgrounds and areas. Their candidate needs to embody social progression while also promoting a strong economic agenda for working class Americans. Their candidate needs to receive immense support from younger generations, who, for the first time in 40 years, will outnumber baby boomer eligible voters in 2020. With such a daunting task, we cannot forget that the candidate’s age will also play a major role in the election. It is clear that the Democrats’ candidate needs to be as close to perfect as possible, and that perfect candidate needs to step up now and take control of the party leading into the 2018 midterms and beyond.