Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock

Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock
© Getty Images

As Andrew YangAndrew YangJack Dorsey committing billion to coronavirus relief efforts Campaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Andrew Yang: Calling coronavirus 'China virus' only used to incite 'hostility' 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 Klobuchar Klobuchar's husband recounts battle with coronavirus: 'It just suddenly hit me' Hillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision MORE of Minnesota and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg launches new PAC to aid down-ballot candidates HuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession MORE polling cumulatively above Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president 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 WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds 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 shakes up WH communications team The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Intercept's Ryan Grim says Cuomo is winning over critics 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 GrahamModerate Democrats now in a race against the clock Dear Iowans: Apologies for Sen. Rick Scott's lack of decency Jimmy Buffett takes musical shots at Trump during concert 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 DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisHundreds line up in Florida to apply for unemployment benefits amid issues with state website How long will it take to conquer the coronavirus — and what sort of society will it leave behind? Federalism in a crisis: Curse or cure? 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 GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made Giuliani touts experimental coronavirus treatment in private conversations with Trump Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech MORE, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEsper faces tough questions on dismissal of aircraft carrier's commander Democratic super PAC targets McSally over coronavirus response GOP senator suspending campaign fundraising, donating paycheck amid coronavirus pandemic MORE and Jeb Bush. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3