A bit later, she added a zinger: “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.”
Klobuchar’s line about the House speaker was a dig at Trump, but it got to a broader question of critical importance to Democrats. In numerous polls, Democratic primary voters have indicated that they are most concerned about picking a candidate who can defeat President Trump next year.
So far, that’s bolstered the candidacy of former vice president Joe Biden, who is leading in the polls and is generally considered the most electable Democrat. That’s probably a function of Biden being seen as appealing to the sort of working-class white voters who have been credited for Trump’s 2016 election.
Earlier this week, NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist released a new poll that evaluated one aspect of that latter question: What candidate demographic characteristics are voters most enthusiastic about? Is it someone like Biden, an older white man? Or can a woman — like Pelosi, in Klobuchar’s formulation — energize voters and beat Trump?
The results looked like this. Enthusiasm increases among poll respondents overall as you move from left to right. Enthusiasm increases among partisans as you move from the bottom to the top. Dots appearing above the line indicate partisan enthusiasm that’s higher than respondents overall. There are two dots for each demographic trait, one Republican and one Democratic.
The candidate demographic that Democrats — and respondents overall — said they’d be most enthusiastic about? A woman.
Among Republicans, though, a female candidate came in third behind “business executive” and “white man” — probably reflecting the party’s incumbent. Among Democrats, “white man” came in fourth and “business executive” trailed “socialist.” Hardly any Republicans indicated they would be enthusiastic about a socialist candidate, which is probably either a driver or a reflection of the centrality of that term in Republican rhetoric.
Marist (the actual pollster) broke out views of candidates among smaller demographic groups, too. Whites without a college degree — those voters to whom Biden is thought by some to have special appeal — express the most enthusiasm for a female candidate (among both men and women in that group). They are least enthusiastic about a socialist. White men without a degree are 10 points more enthusiastic about a business executive than white women without a degree.
Among suburban women, a group that has been credited with Democratic electoral gains since 2016, enthusiasm is similarly highest for a woman, with nearly 4 in 5 expressing enthusiasm for a female candidate. Just under half said they would be enthusiastic about a business executive.
The highest level of enthusiasm among any combination of respondent and candidate demographic groups was the 87 percent of self-identified progressives who expressed support for a female candidate. That edged out the 85 percent of Democratic women who similarly indicated that they’d be enthusiastic about a woman — and the 85 percent of those who support impeaching Trump who said the same.
Impeachment, we’ll note, is probably one specific place where Pelosi will beat Trump.