There is something wrong with the Democratic Party. The candidate who is providing the only real sizzle in the Democratic presidential race right now is Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old socialist senator from Vermont who is something of a oddball. Hillary Clinton, their front-runner, a soon-to-be 68-year-old party stalwart, is stale, bogged down in scandal and can’t draw a crowd. So, who is it that many in the Democratic Party are looking to as the party’s “savior” in the face of the unremarkable Democratic field so far? Answer: Joe Biden, a 72-year-old, former six-term senator from Delaware and the current vice president. And this isn’t the only evidence that the Democrats have a problem. There is fundamentally something wrong with their candidate pool. In the 2014 midterm elections, the Democrats’ top two senatorial candidates, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Michelle Nunn in Georgia, were generational retreads trying to capitalize on famous fathers from a generation ago. And the Democrats’ trophy gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Crist, was a former Republican governor of Florida.
So what does this say about the Democratic Party? It’s interesting to note that the Democrats spend a lot of time wagging their fingers at the Republican Party for being too old and too white. Well, the common denominator for all three of the Democrats’ most viable presidential candidates in 2016 is that they are white and over 65. The Democrats savor their diversity, and the primary composition of their party base is young people, Hispanics and African-Americans. But their candidates do not reflect that demographic composition. Barack Obama is president because he was able to produce a spike in turnout among young voters, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It is hard to make the case that any of the Democratic candidates are going to be able to produce the same type of enthusiasm that generated the spike in turnout that propelled Obama to the presidency.
Republicans thought in 2012 that even if Mitt Romney’s candidacy lacked excitement, voters’ disillusionment with the Obama presidency would be enough to drive Republican turnout and win back the White House. Well, we were wrong. And no matter how much the Democrats try to make people fearful of Republicans, if they do not have energy and enthusiasm on their side, the Democratic coalition may not vote for the Republican nominee, but it also may not vote at all.
Whatever the Democrats’ problem is with their current field, it is hard to imagine how Vice President Biden will be the answer. This is going to be a change election, not a call for a third Obama term. If the Democrats are looking for a savior for 2016, they need to keep looking.