Klobuchar and Harris could bolster Biden in the Midwest

Klobuchar and Harris could bolster Biden in the Midwest
© Getty Images

There was good news and bad news for Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE in a new CNN poll. The good news for the presumptive Democratic nominee was his 51 percent to 46 percent national lead over Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE. But Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonShelby endorses Shalanda Young for OMB director should Biden pull Tanden's nomination Jennifer Palmieri: 'Ever since I was aware of politics, I wanted to be in politics' Cruz: Wife 'pretty pissed' about leaked Cancun texts MORE and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreAl Jazeera launching conservative media platform Exclusive 'Lucky' excerpt: Vow of Black woman on Supreme Court was Biden turning point Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing MORE found out the hard way that winning the popular vote is cold comfort while they watched George W. Bush and Donald Trump being inaugurated as president. 

The bad news for Biden in the same CNN survey revealed that the president was ahead of Biden 52 percent to 45 percent in the 15 battleground states whose electoral votes will determine the next president.

Three of those states are in the industrial Midwest. Simple math illustrates the importance of these purple states in 2020. The road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue runs from the steel plants in western Pennsylvania through the car and truck factories of Michigan and Wisconsin. The path through the Rust Belt is dotted with smokestacks. Some are active while many have not fired up for years.


Biden will need these three states in the industrial Midwest to build the foundation for a majority in the Electoral College.

Trump won states with 306 electoral votes in 2016 while Hillary Clinton tallied 232 votes. If Joe Biden can hold the states that Clinton won and add the 46 electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, then he wins an electoral majority of 278.

Trump won all three of these states, but they were the only three states in the union that he won by less than 1 percent of the vote. Furthermore, the Biden campaign will not take them for granted as Clinton did in the last presidential election.  

Hope is a precious commodity in the Rust Belt but there are reasons to be optimistic that Biden can reclaim the solid blue wall in America’s heartland that was reliably Democratic until 2016. Trump’s margin of victory was narrow in all three states even though Clinton paid little attention to Michigan and Wisconsin after the primaries. All three states elected Democratic governors two years later.

One of those governors, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer is one of the women that Joe Biden is considering as a running mate. Whitmer’s experience fighting the pandemic is the kind of crisis management background that Biden might value in a vice president who would play a key role in helping America recover from the medical and economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


There are many seasoned Democratic women who Biden could add to his ticket to bolster his fortunes in the industrial Midwest. The candidates include Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot Five big takeaways on the Capitol security hearings Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack MORE of Minnesota, Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats offer resolution denouncing white supremacists ahead of Trump trial MORE of Wisconsin and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthBiden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Lawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing LIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG MORE of Illinois.

Baldwin is the only one of the three senators who represents one of the three key battleground states. In 2012, she became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate. With a progressive voting record, she could be a bridge between Biden and the voters who supported Vermont Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersKlain says Harris would not overrule parliamentarian on minimum wage increase Romney-Cotton, a Cancun cabbie and the minimum wage debate On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE.

Duckworth has a great story to tell. She is an Army veteran of the war in Iraq who lost both of her legs when a helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. Her combat service and her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee give her the national security credentials which a vice president or president badly needs.

But the most prominent Midwestern woman on Biden’s short list is Klobuchar, and his choice may boil down to her and California Senator Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisEmhoff reflects on interracial marriage case: Without this 'I would not be married to Kamala Harris' WHO: Coronavirus deaths down 20 percent worldwide last week Collins: Biden's .9T coronavirus package won't get any Senate GOP votes MORE, who are number 1 and 2 on many pundit vice presidential wish lists. 

Despite the regional and racial differences, the two women have much in common. They both ran credible presidential campaigns and positioned themselves as moderates, which makes them ideological soulmates for Biden.

Both women have won the political triple crown and served in elective office at the local, state and federal level. Experience at the three levels of American government is invaluable for a vice president or for a president. Klobuchar served as the Hennepin County (Minneapolis and suburbs) District Attorney while Harris was the San Francisco prosecutor. Harris also served as California's attorney general. Both women ascended to the United States Senate. 

A Midwesterner like Klobuchar could help Biden win the battleground states in America’s industrial heartland. But there is more than one recipe for a victory meal in the Midwest. Biden also might help himself with an African American running mate like Harris who night gin up black turnout in Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee. A higher urban turnout would make a big difference in states that Trump barely won in 2016.

Biden has a tough choice to make but being a winning president candidate and a successful president is all about making the right choice which Trump almost always fails to do.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.