What Democrats Want In 2020: Someone Who Can Beat Trump
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
When it comes to their 2020 presidential nominee, there is one thing Democratic voters seem to agree on more than anything. They tell pollsters, campaigns and reporters they want a candidate who can beat President Trump. NPR's Asma Khalid has been asking Democratic voters to explain what they mean by that.
ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Whether it's Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, Democrats are all seeing some iteration of this.
DOUGLAS LEY: I want a win (laughter) pure and simple.
KHALID: That's Douglas Ley. He's the majority leader in the New Hampshire State House. Ley says it's still really early, and he wants to hear from all of the candidates first.
LEY: And, you know, quite frankly, if it boils down to, let's say, two or three candidates that I'm happy with but one is perceived by me to be more electable than the others, I'll go with electability.
KHALID: That word electability is also something I hear thrown around a lot, so I ask him what exactly it means.
LEY: For me, it means speaking to working people, speaking to good, you know, middle-class people who are getting shafted.
KHALID: Ley thinks his party needs to do a better job of appealing to the working class. He's not sure if that means a progressive or a centrist. Frankly, he says, voters just want solutions. And he's not alone here at the big, annual New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner. Chris Muns is chair of the Democratic Party in Hampton, a small town on the New Hampshire seacoast.
CHRIS MUNS: I grew up in Michigan. I mean, I think one of the things that Democrats have to do is reconnect with that - you know, that industrial heartland.
KHALID: His wife, Melanie, says a candidate's geography might help.
MELANIE MUNS: I mean, that's where I think Amy Klobuchar might have a chance because she's from the Midwest. She can appeal to the middle of the country, where other people can't.
KHALID: Melanie Muns says she's already seen three or four candidates in person, and a lot of them have similar policies.
M. MUNS: Because there are so many similarities, at that point, it'll just sort of be a gut feeling.
KHALID: A gut feeling to find someone electable. That word is something Jaime Harrison says he also hears a lot in South Carolina.
JAIME HARRISON: People are saying the same thing, but I think it means different things to different people.
KHALID: Harrison is an official with the DNC in South Carolina. He says Democrats he talks to are searching for a candidate who will pay attention to the base of the party.
HARRISON: Someone who will go into African-American communities and spend resources to talk to them and mobilize them and get them involved and get them engaged and who will not take the black folks for granted.
KHALID: Whether that's a progressive or a moderate is up for debate.
KEITH WARING: I'm really looking for a candidate that can bring a centrist message.
KHALID: That's Keith Waring, a city councilor in Charleston. He says if he could choose the ticket, he'd go with former Vice President Joe Biden as president and California senator Kamala Harris as vice president. Waring says Biden has experience, and Harris could re-energize parts of the Obama coalition.
WARING: I think Kamala Harris has the ability to bring a lot of Southern states with her like the North Carolinas, the Virginias and possibly even Georgia and probably even appeal in Florida.
KHALID: Waring says the biggest change this time around regardless of which candidate he chooses is that he's excited with his options, way more excited than 2016.
WARING: I felt, when I voted the last time, I was settling. Although I voted for Clinton, I just think the country was tired of that drama.
KHALID: Even if Waring is not a hundred percent sure who he'll vote for, he's excited about a number of potential Democratic contenders this time. And in the end, that kind of voter enthusiasm can boost turnout, and high turnout is precisely what a Democrat needs to defeat Donald Trump. Asma Khalid, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.