The Democratic Party primary campaign season is now well underway, with 24 Democrats having announced their candidacy for the presidency. While each candidate consistently and vociferously voices their disdain for President Trump, they have also attempted to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field. Some have succeeded in generating appeal with Democratic voters, with Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris continuing to sustain support. Others have seriously struggled to gain support, with Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Booker falling behind in recent polls.
The key figure in the race is former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced his candidacy following months of anticipation. As of now, the polls indicate Biden having a heavy lead with Sanders being a distant second. After that, there is a cluster of candidates rounding out the top five, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. While there is still over a year before the state primary elections begin, the Democratic field seems to already be somewhat solidified.
An interesting point to note with the early polls is that the Democratic Party appears to have deviated from the intersectional identity politics course that it was on. The trend away from white males has been in motion for years, considering former President Barack Obama was the nation’s first non-white president and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was the first woman to secure the nomination of one of the major political parties. Moreover, virtually all prominent Democratic politicians and commentators have reiterated how vital it is that the party embrace minorities that have been historically subjugated in the United States. This emphasis led many to believe that someone like Kamala Harris was a shoe-in to win the Democratic nomination, but she has struggled to compete with Sanders and Biden in the polls, with O’Rourke and Buttigieg complicating her presidential hopes even further.
With Biden and Sanders dominating the polls, Harris and Warren securing their respective slots in the top five, this means that four of the five leading Democratic candidates are forsaken, white males. The Democratic Party may be straying from the course of worshipping minority groups, at least in terms of who voters are supporting in the primary.
The incessant attacks on President Trump typically include his alleged racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other related buzzwords. These criticisms are heavily reliant on Trump’s immutable status as a white male, but the ubiquity of white males atop the Democratic polls indicate that this line of critique will have limited success in 2020. It also suggests that there is some disconnect between Democratic leaders—consumed by their pursuit of intersectional coalitions—and Democratic voters, who seem far less concerned with the race and sex of their party’s candidates.
The Democratic primary election can still certainly go a number of ways, with the 2020 general election being even more difficult to predict. However, it’s evident that Democratic leaders have miscalculated the desires of their voting base, which may lead to severe electoral consequences come election time.