Democrats’ Invisible Primary Underway

Former American housing secretary Julián Castro speaks with a voter in Phoenix, Arizona, October 10
Former American housing secretary Julián Castro speaks with a voter in Phoenix, Arizona, October 10 (Gage Skidmore)

The “invisible primary” in America’s Democratic Party is underway.

In this phase — between the most recent congressional elections and the first official announcements — presidential hopefuls quietly court donors, party bosses, friendly journalists and affiliated interest groups.

Here are some of the latest developments: Read more

Give Superdelegates More, Not Less, Power

Delegates listen to a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016
Delegates listen to a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016 (DNCC/Chris Frommann)

California, Illinois, New York and Texas have 30 percent of the American population between them. Yet because they are late in the primary calendar, they have almost no say in the selection of presidential candidates.

Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have only 3 percent of the population, yet because they are first in line to vote they have disproportionate power in the process. If a candidate fails to win at least one of the first three primary states, he or she usually drops out.

How is that democratic? Read more

A New Generation of Democrats Is Waiting in the Wings

Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)

America’s Democratic Party looks old. Former and likely future House speaker Nancy Pelosi, former vice president Joe Biden and former presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are all in their seventies. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who is expected to seek the presidency in 2020, turns seventy next year. The Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, is 67.

But a new generation is waiting in the wings.

As the “invisible primary” gets underway — during which presidential hopefuls test the waters with donors, fundraisers, party leaders, political operatives and sympathetic journalists — it is worth taking a look at the party’s potential future leaders. Read more

Now the Battle for the Democratic Party Begins

Voters listen to a speech by Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016
Voters listen to a speech by Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016 (Hillary for America/Alyssa S.)

Up until now, I think rumors of a Democratic civil war have been exaggerated. Democrats have wisely nominated center-left candidates, like Ralph Northam, in Republican-leaning territory, such as Virginia, and progressive candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in safe Democratic districts, for example in New York.

But as Democrats will need to coalesce around a single candidate for the 2020 presidential election next, the battle between the center and left could burst out into the open. Read more

Takeaways from the Midterm Elections in the United States

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons/Bgwwlm)

Democratic victories in America’s midterm elections on Tuesday lacked star power. Andrew Gillum and Beto O’Rourke failed to win their races in Florida and Texas, respectively. Stacey Abrams is behind in Georgia.

But none were favored to win. Nationally, Democrats did not have a bad night at all. Read more

Democrats’ Dilemma Is Familiar to Europe’s Center-Left

Spanish, Austrian and Portuguese social democratic party leaders Pedro Sánchez, Christian Kern and António Costa attend a meeting in Lisbon, December 2, 2017
Spanish, Austrian and Portuguese social democratic party leaders Pedro Sánchez, Christian Kern and António Costa attend a meeting in Lisbon, December 2, 2017 (PES)

Democrats in the United States have the same dilemma as social democrats in Europe: should they deemphasize progressive social policies in order to win back working-class voters or side with the socially progressive middle class?

The parable isn’t perfect. The big cultural issue in Europe is immigration. In the United States, it’s race relations more broadly and changing social norms.

But that makes a strategy of accommodation with blue-collar voters who switched from Barack Obama to Donald Trump in 2016 even less attractive to the American left. It would mean repudiating causes like Black Lives Matter and transgender rights because they offend Trump voters’ desire for social order. Read more

Divided Congress After Midterm Elections in America

The United States Capitol in Washington DC
The United States Capitol in Washington DC (Shutterstock/Brandon Bourdages)
  • Democrats are poised to take control of the House of Representatives after midterm elections in the United States.
  • Republicans defend their majority in the Senate. Read more