Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock

Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock
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As Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis Eric Adams to meet with Biden on curbing gun violence MORE, the “Math Guy,” dropped out of the Democratic presidential derby Tuesday night in New Hampshire, he had clearly done his own math, which didn’t add up to a shot at the nomination title.

As pundits droned on about the rising significance of two moderates — Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBiden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions MORE of Minnesota and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries MORE polling cumulatively above Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (I-Vt.) in the latter’s neighboring state — Yang must have winced at the media’s missing decimal.

That’s because whether you’re using a high-speed calculator or an abacus, the search for the center won’t matter if someone in that space soon doesn’t head for the exits.


If Sanders scores well in Nevada, places well in South Carolina, and maintains his poll leads in California, New York and elsewhere, he is in position to score 600+ delegates out of the required 1,991 needed to secure the Democratic nomination.

That sounds short of critical mass; even if the rapidly diminishing Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Biden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE (D-Mass.) drops out soon and throws her weight behind ideological soulmate Sanders, you’re still only looking at about 800 delegates, far short of the winning number.

Yet if Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE, and soon-to-be-in-the-delegate-hunt Mike Bloomberg effectively split the remaining the delegates, none will likely eclipse 500 before the July Convention in Milwaukee.

Welcome to the Democrats’ dilemma: a political reality show in which the delegate leader and popular vote favorite may very well be voted off the island by those properly worried about his prospects of surviving a tilt with the President of the United States in the fall.

Despite the chaos of an Iowa caucus few would ever want to revisit, Sanders did win the popular vote tally on both the first and second ballots. He did the same in the cold of New Hampshire this week, and his prospects in Nevada (especially with Biden not just on but through the ropes) suggest the trend will continue in the heavily union-influenced caucus there next weekend.


So, what is a centrist voter to do, one who is not enamored with the socialist Sanders “revolution”?

The answer is to unite around one moderate contender buttressed by another, a united centrist ticket that can more broadly appeal to the nation and go the distance.

Bloomberg/Klobuchar.  Buttigieg/Klobuchar. Klobuchar/Biden. You get the drift. The common theme here, the star of this initiative, is Amy Klobuchar, the Midwest’s ascending star whose common sense attracts Democrats who believe the nation is not looking for an ideological coup or a change-everything revolution.

For example, if she throws her political weight behind former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg by agreeing to join a fusion ticket with him, it would quickly crater an already disintegrating Biden and an appealing Buttigieg while putting Sanders, Warren and other liberal progressives in a numerical bind.

But if this doesn’t happen soon — by mid-March or before — it may be too late to arrest the inevitable Sanders army surge to claiming the delegate lead this summer and daring anyone to take the nomination away from him (cue Hillary, the DNC, super-delegates).

There is a clear and recent precedent for this conundrum.

In the 2018 Florida Governor’s race, the Democratic primary featured a showdown between the center and the left, between four centrists and a progressive liberal: Andrew Gillum. The four centrists — including popular Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Gwen GrahamGwendolyn GrahamFlorida Democrats' midterm fantasy faceoff: DeSantis vs. Demings Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Dear Iowans: Apologies for Sen. Rick Scott's lack of decency MORE, the daughter of a well-known political leader — split the moderate primary vote. With only 34 percent of the vote, Gillum claimed the nomination, before falling short in the finale against now-Governor Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC's limits on cruise ship industry Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event MORE.

The message for moderate Dems in 2020: Unite or perish.

To survive, this calls for an act of political selflessness (an oxymoron if ever there was one) by one or more of the moderates in the coming weeks.

This is now the race within the race… and the one most worth watching.

Adam Goodman is an award-winning national Republican media strategist who has advised Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiBob Dole: 'I'm a Trumper' but 'I'm sort of Trumped out' Ex-Trump adviser Barrack charged with secretly lobbying for UAE Aides who clashed with Giuliani intentionally gave him wrong time for Trump debate prep: book MORE, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices Biden nominates Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey MORE and Jeb Bush. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3