Minnesota was a huge battleground state in this year’s midterms. While it tilted blue, it was one of the only states where Republicans flipped (2) seats, and the vast majority of the elections were extremely tight. Virtually all the races were close, expect incumbent Senator Amy Klobuchar, won her race by 25 points, 60% to 36%. Compared to the other Democrat senator, who only won her race by 10 points, Klobuchar is a huge outlier. Why is that the case? The reason she had such a good performance is that she was able to win many rural discitis, normally where Democrats perform the worst. Well for one, she has held the seat since 2006 and has been an extremely effective senator. She holds the record for the most bills passed out of any senator and is known for her warm and professional demeanor and effort for bipartisanship. She is likely the only person to benefit from the Kavanaugh hearings, as her cool demeanor when asking the now Supreme Court judge about his drinking history angered him to respond in accusation. That interaction, which became one of many viral moments from the hearings, stood out as one in which there was a clear side to take. The general public was extremely divided on the Kavanaugh hearings, with many on the left accusing the Republicans of ignoring a clear case of sexual assault, and many on the right accused Democrats of using false accusations as a political weapon. All parties involved came out of the hearing looking bad, all save Amy Klobuchar. Her success and positive impact led some pundits to speculate Klobuchar’s chances in the 2020 presidential race. And I believe, she is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump.
Due to the electoral college, certain states become incredibly important to win during a presidential race. After 2016, it was clear that the Midwest was where Democrats needed to focus on. Hillary Clinton lost Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and those three states ultimately lost her the election. However, she only lost Michigan by 0.3%, Wisconsin by 1% and Pennsylvania by 0.7%. These states also swung back to the Democrats in 2018, making them clear battleground states in 2020. And no Democrat will have a better chance at winning the midwest than Amy Klobuchar. Prominent 2020 candidates such as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders, all have extreme support in liberal strongholds but would likely struggle in places other than California and New York. All of these candidates are from the “coasts”, and often times focus on progressive issues such as identity politics and criticism of Wall Street and the upper class. Of course, there are many differences between these candidates, it's important to remember that distinction and nuance in policy often times is not significant in electoral campaigns, rather how people feel about a candidate can have more of sway on who they choose to vote. And many of these candidates can come as off as elite, out of touch, liberals who are more concerned about who people feel than how the economy is doing. This stereotype, while mostly untrue, is how many voters felt about Hillary Clinton in 2016, and is part of the reason why she lost the Midwest, and the presidency. Many of these prospective candidates also have large issues of their own. Bernie Sanders, for example, will be 79 in 2020 and is Jewish. Elizabeth Warren underperformed in her 2018 midterm, given how unknown her candidate was and how blue Massachusets is. For context, Klobuchar received 60.3% of the vote against a weak opponent in a state Hillary Clinton carried by 1.5% in 2016. Elizabeth Warren received 60.3% of the vote against a weak opponent in a state Clinton carried by 27%. Warren has also shown her inability to handle Trump during her Native American heritage debacle, raising the question about how 2020 would go for her. Kamala Harris has recently faced backlash after comparing ICE to the KKK, reinforcing her central belief of progressive identity politics. While her views might get a standing ovation in Boston or San Francisco, suburban and rural white voters in the Midwest are not likely to buy into it. This could spell disaster for any progressive candidates in 2020, as the focus on identity politics would likely turn off many key voters, and make the candidates easy targets for Donald Trump.
While many of the most prominent Democrats start to rise up from the 2018 midterms are extremely progressive and far to the left, it is important to look at where they are running in. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez may have an inspiring message for the Bronx, but the progressive message, especially regarding identity politics, may be more harmful in less urban areas, areas where Democrats need to win to regain the presidency. While progressive energy and money definitely helped Democrats in 2018, the vast majority of progressive candidates running in competitive, non-urban races lost. That is not to say that progressive democrats don't have any political power, they most certainly do. And the progressive movement and message are quickly becoming a real political force to reckoned with. However, in a national election, Klobuchar's temperament and bipartisanship would beat on Harris’ identity politics any day. That’s why I believe, Klobuchar 2020 is the best bet Democrats have.