Welcome to Week 7. I’m Megan McArdle. Normally I’d present this in a 146-tweet thread, but in deference to newspaper conventions, I’ll take a swing at writing in paragraphs.
It’s been another big week in the race to challenge President Trump. Beto O’Rourke is in (stand by for the first presidential campaign album to go double platinum), and Joe Biden is inching slowly but surely toward his own announcement (he’s 76, after all, and allowed a certain stately pace). Others are busily touring early-primary states and staking out positions to differentiate themselves from the pack — most notably, Kamala D. Harris, who announced she wants to quadruple the budget of the U.S. Digital Service, the office that makes government technology work better.
Meanwhile, Democrats have a big decision to make: Do they want to focus on pure economic issues, a la Bernie Sanders? Do they want to meld a sharp economic shift left with identity politics, as promised by Harris? Or do they want to woo moderates with someone who looks a little less radical — a Biden or an Amy Klobuchar?
All three strategies have drawbacks: The candidates who might speak to the hearts of centrists come across as tepid to a base that wants to see the party charge over the ramparts, sans peur et sans reproche. Identity politics will make it hard to win back the portion of the white working class needed to cobble together an electoral college victory. And focusing solely on economic redistribution sounds perilously close to “All Lives Matter,” which will do Democrats no favors with their diverse coalition. Nor will it help them with suburban voters, who fled Trump’s aggressively anti-PC persona but whose newfound commitment to social justice would be sorely tested by the prospect of giving up their employer-sponsored health insurance and forking over another big chunk of their income.
Republicans have their own choice to make: Are they going to be the Party of Trump? Short of voting Democratic, the only thing that can save them from such a fate is a primary challenger.
Most unlikely, I confess. But it’s not out of the question, so let’s throw names into the hat: Nikki Haley, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake. None seems precisely ready to run, but all are getting wistful eyes from some faction or another, and as the old GOP seems to be getting ready for the Big Sleep, who can say what dreams may come?
— Megan McArdle
|Position||Challenger||Change Over Last Ranking|
|2.||Kamala D. Harris||—|
|3.||Bernie Sanders||DOWN 1|
|4.||Beto O’Rourke||UP 2|
|5.||Elizabeth Warren||UP 2|
|6.||Amy Klobuchar||DOWN 2|
|7.||Cory Booker||DOWN 2|
|9.||Pete Buttigieg||UP 4|
|11.||Kirsten Gillibrand||DOWN 2|
|12.||Jay Inslee||DOWN 1|
|13.||Howard Schultz||UP 1|
|14.||Stacey Abrams||RETURNS TO RANKING|
|15.||Nikki Haley||ADDS TO RANKING|
Falls off ranking: Julián Castro, John Delaney
Also receiving votes: Castro, Delaney, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, Mitt Romney
Last week’s ranking: Round 6 | 2020 hopefuls are hopping off the fence. But one’s already on deathwatch.
Following week’s ranking: Round 8 | What 2020 Democrats and Richard Nixon have in common
Don’t forget to click on the yellow highlighted text above to expand the Ranking Committee’s annotations. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, keep an eye on these big decisions — even if it’s avec a little peur.
Read more on 2020: