This is third piece I’ve written about who I feel Joe Biden should pick…
I’ve found more support for my view….
Biden, though unexciting to many millennials and Gen Z voters, is perceived by party mainstreamers as highly electable. These perceptions carry important implications for the behaviors of donors, volunteers, candidates, and tertiary actors such as the punditocracy, who hold important narrative-setting power in the electoral ecosystem. Biden will likely be pushed towards selecting fellow primary contender Amy Klobuchar as his running mate, and in the two-person debate last Sunday, the candidate shrewdly dominated the news cycle by announcing that he will select a female running mate.
Given her performance in the Democratic primary and status as a popular senator from Minnesota, Klobuchar likely leads Biden’s short list. Klobuchar’s reputation for bipartisanship and moderation will be immensely attractive to traditional Democratic strategists who will likely be looking at the VP slot via a regionalism lens, looking to solve the “Midwest problem.”
But whether this is the right lens depends on how you diagnose that 2016 loss. I don’t want to put words in the party’s mouth, but if media surrogates and candidate statements are any indication, it appears Democrats believe their 2016 losses in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which, as a reminder, were surprise losses, were due to the failure of Hillary Clinton to win over white, working-class voters. The movement of these Obama-to-Trump voters was the decisive element in Clinton’s loss, and the recovery of them must be the central element of any plan to recapture the Midwest.
This diagnosis, that Clinton underperformed Obama among white, working-class voters, is not quantitatively wrong. This is a mathematical fact. Where this diagnosis runs into trouble is misunderstanding why Clinton underperformed Obama among white, working-class voters and what, if anything, can be done about it. Because underlying the cycle-specific trends are the realities of the long-term demographic, coalitional realignments of the two parties, where the Republican Party is becoming a rural-based party of whites, particularly working-class whites (but more accurately, non-college-educated whites), and the Democratic Party is becoming an urban/suburban party, racially and ethnically diverse in a society that is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and where college education is becoming a reliable predictor of Democratic candidate vote choice (so much so that I use it to predict Democratic candidate vote share in my modeling).
What this means, of course, is that every four years, fewer white, non-college-educated voters (especially those in rural areas) vote for Democrats. And this has profound impacts in the Midwest, because the traditional Democratic strongholds were often, in more rural, heavily unionized areas of these states. Which is why Democrats look at these areas as, “I used to win here, and I should be winning here now.” Which brings us back to the Obama-to-Trump voters. Some of these voters are actually “pure” independents. They broke against the Democrats in 2016 because they were the status quo. In data I worked with from Morning Consult, about 30 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters expressed unfavorable views of Trump as of last fall. My belief is that this group is likely the pure independent chunk, voters I call “change voters,” who we might expect to swing away from Trump in 2020 now that he represents the status quo (especially under an economic recession environment)…..