The reality check Democrats need to win in 2020

 

Democrats may not get everything they want in a 2020 nominee but they will get the candidate they need to beat President Trump — if they get a grip on reality.

If a Democratic candidate wins the presidential race next year, die hard 2016 supporters of Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE will have to get down off their high horses and accept the fact that the 2020 campaign is not about them. It's about the damage that Trump has inflicted on the nation since he became president. Attempts to re-litigate the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign are obstacles to a Democratic victory in 2020.

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The reaction to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE's (D-Mass.) New Year's Day announcement dramatically illustrates a major obstacle that stands between the eventual Democratic presidential nominee and the White House in 2020. Judging from the reaction of many Sanders' supporters to Warren's announcement, you would think that the progressive senator from the Bay State is to the right of Genghis Khan and Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity.

This is the same EWarren who beat up on Wall Street financial interests before economic populism became cool. She was so aggressively militant against Wall Street that President Obama pointedly passed her over to run the financial industry regulatory agency that was her idea. The senior senator from Massachusetts senator also co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Medicare for All legislation. But that's not enough for some Sanders supporters. Her major sin appears to be she's not Bernie or that she will cut into his base in during the presidential primary campaign. 

The Hillary Clinton die-hards left over from her disastrous 2016 campaign are just as bad. There are still Clinton acolytes who blame Bernie Sanders for her defeat and even want the 2016 nominee to run again. The cold hard reality is that Clinton ran an inept campaign that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The former first lady made a hash of her mishandling of top-secret emails and she failed to aggressively address the meat and potato economic issues that would have secured the electoral votes she needed in the industrial Midwest.

Democrats need to thread the needle to win next year. The party needs a nominee who is acceptable to both groups but not perfectly acceptable to either. This won't be easy but no one ever said winning a presidential race is or should be easy. It will be easier for a fresh face, a candidate without baggage to defeat Trump than it would be for a nominee that is perfectly acceptable to either the Sanders or the Clinton camps to win the White House.

This criterion excludes the two Democratic front-runners, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices MORE and Sanders from consideration. It's hard to imagine Biden being acceptable to the insurgent wing or the senator from Vermont grading out with establishment Democrats. But there might be a two dozen Democratic candidates, so Democrats still will have plenty of great progressive choices. 

One of the lesser-known Democrats will come out of the dust and seriously challenge the two big boys for the Democratic nod if history is any guide. Few political analysts saw Jimmy Carter in 1976 or Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBen Shapiro: No prominent GOP figure ever questioned Obama's legitimacy The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump tries to reassure voters on economy 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE in 1992 or Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices Which Democrat can beat Trump? Middle East scholars blame Trump for an Iran policy 40 years in the making MORE in 2008 coming from nowhere to beat party heavyweights and win their nominations. 

Eight of the possible Democratic candidates are members of the U.S. Senate and they all are liberals. The only one who is close to being a moderate is Minnesota Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Harris to appear in CNN climate town hall after backlash MORE. This analysis is based on an ideological rating created by YouGov.com of all 100 senators based on the bills they sponsored or co-sponsored in 2017. 

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The most liberal of the eight potential candidates according to the YouGov rating was Sanders who was second behind Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Al Franken urges Trump to give new speech after shootings: 'Try to make it sound like you're sincere, even if you're not' MORE of Minnesota on the progressive hit parade. Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus MORE of Oregon, Kristin Gillibrand of New York and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE of California weren't far behind. So if ardent Sanders supporters think their guy is the only progressive in the mix, they're wrong. The same goes for Clinton zealots who think Sanders is too liberal. If they think Sanders is too liberal, then so are the other seven other Democrats in the same boat. 

Reality sucks but it's a necessary ingredient for successful presidential campaigns. The sooner Democrats face reality, the better off the party and the nation will be. There are plenty of progressive Democrats out there and one of them will beat Trump and become the 46th president of the United States of America.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com, a social media network for politics.