Teenagers’ take on the democratic field
October 15, 2019
Although Joe Biden is currently in first place in the polls, his charisma and overall “Joe Biden charm” seems to have worn off since he was Vice President under Barack Obama. Back in 2008 and 2012, he was known for being able to take down the Republican Vice Presidential nominee at Vice Presidential debates, whether it be Sarah Palin or Paul Ryan, with natural ease. However, in this election, it seems that his inability to properly defend himself from attacks during debates may be his downfall.
Most debates have followed with a significant drop in his poll numbers, dropping 5 points in the days after the June debate, and dropping 3 points after the September debate. Most of his talking points include some reference to Obama and the Obama administration, which demeans his standing as a sole candidate, as people still only see him as Obama’s Vice President. In addition, he’s constantly being called out for his moderate-leaning policies that differ from his progressive competitors, and he doesn’t seem to have a good reason as to why he doesn’t support Medicare for All or free university education for all. If Biden wants a fighting chance, he needs to forget Obama and become an individual candidate.
Sanders has a strong supporting base since he was the one to propose the majority of progressive ideas that are now considered the norm in the Democratic field, such as Medicare for All, free college tuition, and a minimum wage increase. Many candidates he shares the stage with can credit their policies to those piloted by Bernie Sanders in the 2016 race. However, there are serious doubts about his ability to go against Trump. He’s great on a debate stage defending his progressive policies against more moderate democrats, but his skills are far weaker when debating Republicans with completely different talking points. He may have been a candidate with new, fresh ideas in 2016, but for 2020, it’s becoming clearer throughout the polls that Elizabeth Warren has replaced him as the main progressive in the field, and many of his 2016 supporters are moving to her side.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has led her campaign with consistency and composure. Her main goal is to end corruption in Washington and fix a system that currently only works for the wealthy. On the debate stage, she is able to speak eloquently and passionately about her ideals and has continued to gain traction among voters along the debate trail. Some, however, have concerns about her “likability” ratings, due to some recent scandals concerning her minority status. Still, recent polls give confidence that Warren is overcoming this extra hurdle she has to face. In one of the statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight’s recent polls in Iowa, a key swing state, Warren was two points ahead of Joe Biden, who started the presidential race as a clear frontrunner. If Warren can keep doing what she’s doing and hold her ground against Trump on the debate stage, we might be electing our first female president in 2020.
Kamala Harris has had impressive success, especially after taking on Vice President Joe Biden in the second debate. Her policies are clear, needed, and useful. However, as a former prosecutor, her criminal justice record contradicts her policies about lighter jail sentences for nonviolent offenses. When she was Attorney General of California, she worked to slow the release of prisoners in jail, even after the Supreme Court found that jails were overcrowded. Inconsistencies like these are concerning because it shows that Harris might be more worried about becoming elected rather than sticking to her promises.
After rising to fame as South Bend’s Mayor Pete, the initial shine of a young small-town mayor running for president of the United States has worn off. His polling numbers have dropped and he’s at a respectable 5th place, but among minority groups, he’s much lower. Buttigieg frequently polls around 1% with African-American and Latinx voters, likely because he’s neglecting to visit their communities on the campaign trail. He is a Rhodes Scholar who speaks seven languages, which is impressive, but he doesn’t need to keep flashing it around like a toy. Personally, we think he’d make a great Vice President pick for a candidate trying to appeal to the young vote. He has a lot of popularity among the younger demographic and easily persuades people with his charisma, but he lacks the experience needed to be president. There’s nothing that stands out about his policies, or something that would compel voters to vote for him. He’s basically Joe Biden, just younger.
Beto O’Rourke may not be the most memorable candidate, but he’s made sure that we remember two things: his fluency in Spanish and the fact that his hometown is El Paso, a town that recently experienced a horrific mass shooting that killed 22. He has used the debate stage, and frankly, his hometown, as a platform to speak about gun violence. Receiving praise for his response of “Hell, yes” when asked if he would require that gun owners sell guns back to the government, his performance on in Texas wasn’t deplorable, but it didn’t do his campaign any favors, either. He remains one of the candidates with the weakest polling numbers.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has become surprisingly popular recently, with the New York Times dubbing him the “Internet’s Favorite Candidate.” An entrepreneur with zero political experience, he approaches problems with a solution-based mindset rather than one focused on public approval. His plans aren’t vague blurbs about America’s values but rather are specific and actionable. This is evident in his Freedom Dividend policy, which would implement a universal basic income (UBI) of $1000 per month for any adult, regardless of work status or any other factors. It’s clear he’s done his research: according to his website, UBI would grow the economy by $2.5 trillion by 2025 and increase the labor force. For all 150 or so of his outlined policies, he lists problems that each policy aims to solve and what he will do as President to implement it. Not only does the Freedom Dividend set him apart from other candidates but his policies have a remarkable level of specificity and design. Yang has shown us that he’s not a politician, but he’s also shown us that it may be a good thing.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who most people know for his sassy Twitter comebacks and his brutal interrogation of Brett Kavanaugh, hasn’t been very memorable in the race so far. Voters see him as friendly, casual and charming, but he’s desperately in need of a standout moment or a policy that will set him apart from the other candidates. Instead of making a name for himself, he’s been wasting his quite limited speaking time during debates, preaching “party unity” and talking about his past as the mayor of Newark. Overall, that makes him somewhat of a forgettable candidate in the crowded field.
Throughout the entirety of her campaign, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has championed the fact that she is from the Midwest, telling voters that she is essential to winning key swing states back for Democrats. While this may be true, it seems to be one of the only things that sets her apart from the other candidates. She believes in taking action to solve climate change and expanding gun restrictions, but so does almost every other candidate on the Democratic debate stage. Despite holding her own during debates, she’s had no standout moments that would make us believe she could go up against Donald Trump’s brutal tactics on stage.
Julian Castro seemed really promising until the third Democratic debate. He has a solid and detailed plan for immigration reform that most other candidates lack. He also supports radical changes to government departments and programs that most candidates are not advocating for, such as the severe reform of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the reform of the Housing and Urban Development department. He’s a young, fresh face compared to the candidates voters already know and have opinions about. However, an attack on Biden’s poor memory and a hint that it was due to his age during the September debate wasn’t well received by viewers or the media—it may have been a complete backfire for his campaign.