Democrats’ 2016 field has a strong East Coast flavor

December 11, 2012

For all the guff Republicans get about being an increasingly regional party, it's Democrats whose potential 2016 presidential field lacks geographical diversity.

Almost all of the (very) early frontrunners for the Democratic nomination four years from now hail from the East Coast -- or more specifically, from the Mid-Atlantic north.

In fact, in a poll conducted last week by Democratic automated pollster Public Policy Polling, candidates from that region took 86 percent of the votes, with another 1 percent voting for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and 12 percent being undecided.


Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The field of potential candidates is thought to include as many as three from New York -- Hillary Clinton, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand -- and politicians from Delaware (Vice President Biden), Maryland (Gov. Martin O'Malley), Virginia (Sen. Mark Warner) and Massachusetts (Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren).

Besides Schweitzer, about the only politician from west of the Appalachians that has garnered significant attention is Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Why does it matter?

Well, Mitt Romney isn't the first East Coast candidate to lose a presidential race in recent years. So did John Kerry in 2004 and Michael Dukakis in 1988 (note: all three were from Massachusetts). In fact, despite most of our early presidents hailing from this region, the last East Coast president was John F. Kennedy.

This is not to say that there is some kind of curse on the East Coast -- the sample size is much too small -- but Democrats have had much better luck with candidates from the Midwest and the South in recent decades. Being able to relate to more swingy areas of the country while satisfying the party's core constituencies on the coasts is the most readily apparent path to victory (see: Clinton, Bill; Obama, Barack; and Carter, Jimmy).

At this point, though, it seems very likely that the Democratic nominee will be a Yankee of some sort.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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