Which Democrat can beat Trump?

Which Democrat can beat Trump?
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Right now, the top tier Democratic presidential candidates Joe BidenJoe BidenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, Bernie SandersBernie SandersWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Juan Williams: Black votes matter Clyburn: Biden 'suffered' from not doing 'enough' in early debates MORE are all competitive with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE. Yet, it is still not clear that each possesses the same chance of squaring off against each other and then beating him in the general election next year. At the moment, Biden has lost some altitude, Warren is surging, Sanders is in retrograde, and Harris appears stuck.

By the numbers, Sanders has declined, and his candidacy is no longer novel. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE is not there as a foil. On top of that, fiery passion of socialism has its limits. Democrats may well loathe the president, but they also want to win. The senator from Vermont wants jarringly expensive programs, and his message is like the rant of “that” uncle at Thanksgiving. People who like their health insurance want to be sure they can keep it, and “Medicare for All” looms as a bridge too far. Sanders offers little by way of reassurance to those who stand to be nicked or worse by his grand plans. A spoonful of sugar might make the medicine go down for him.

As for Harris, since her stellar performance in June at the first round of Democratic primary debates, her star has dimmed. No longer polling in the teens, the senator from California is back to single digits. Instead of coming across as the candidate who could best prosecute the case against Trump, Harris appears uncertain. Having raised her hand when asked if she would abolish private health insurance and attacking Biden over school busing, Harris now seems stumped on the campaign trail.

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This leaves us with Warren riding a wave of enthusiasm and Biden sitting at the top of the Democratic field. Given the absence of “winner take all” primaries, the pair might still be battling each other next summer in Milwaukee during the Democratic National Convention. An excited but behaved crowd of 12,000 gathered to hear Warren speak in Saint Paul this week, an audience that the candidate labeled as a “nerd crowd.” She meant it as a compliment. For all her economic populism, the “wine track” is a proven path to becoming the Democratic standard bearer. Just look at Mike Dukakis in 1988, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats duke it out in most negative debate so far Biden, Sanders battle over Cuba, Obama Biden attacks Sanders at debate over Obama primary MORE in 2008, and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Therefore, it is Warren dually embracing identity politics and political correctness that may ultimately count most among younger activists yet leave her markedly vulnerable a year from now, particularly as she has not demonstrated a capacity to woo swing voters or get beyond her liberal base. Her numbers within her home state of Massachusetts reveal her to be among the least popular members of the Senate. The stuff that thrills the truest believers in the party can actually sound like fingernails on a blackboard to swing voters. Regardless, Warren is definitely in the hunt.

This brings us to Biden. The former vice president continues to hold a lead nationally among Democrats, but his candidacy is straining. Aside from the usual gaffes, he is running into fundraising roadblocks. His cash haul from the grassroots is relatively unimpressive, and one recent poll shows him falling behind into second place in New Hampshire. Beyond that, his favorability, much like a treasury yield curve, may have also inverted.

Still, Biden is the only Democrat to hit the 50 percent mark in hypothetical matchups against Trump. Unlike Warren, his candidacy resonates with older Americans, blacks, and whites. In a head to head match against the president, Biden holds a clear lead among seniors, independents, and suburbanites. Indeed, Biden may also be up more than a dozen points among suburban women, and he is within striking distance of Trump with white women without a college degree. Said differently, the hands that rock the cradle could also be the same ones deciding the next election.

Lloyd Green worked as the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign and later served in the Justice Department. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.