The Young Mayor of a Small Midwestern City is Favored to Win the Democratic Nomination for President! Really?

POLITICS--Bill Kristol declared the Democratic race for President as between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. At a Des Moines town hall, his campaign planned for 50 people to show up; 1600 did. According to a CNBC analysis, Buttigieg has become a top recipient of bundled contributions from Democratic campaign donors. It looks like this guy is for real.

According to the Las Vegas oddsmakers, the favorites to win the Democratic nomination for President are, in this order, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Biden, O’Rourke and Yang. Note that only one of these candidates is a woman, Kamala Harris.

To me, this is unbelievable considering the amazingly impressive group of female candidates participating in this race. Consider the fact that you have four women who represent major states in the U.S. Senate running, only one of whom is considered viable, according to the oddsmakers.

Elizabeth Warren is a former professor of Harvard Law School who is widely acknowledged as an expert on wealth inequality. She has aggressively focused on policy, and she perfectly represents the views of most Democratic activists. We say we want candidates who focus on the issues, yet she does not appear among the top six candidates.

Kirsten Gillibrand represents Hillary Clinton’s old seat in the U.S. Senate. She is a former member of Congress who represented a Republican district, and she has an impressive legal resume. Yet she does not appear among the top six candidates.

Amy Klobuchar is a Senator from Minnesota who, prior to her election, was named Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer magazine. Neither she nor Tulsi Gabbard, a Congresswoman from Hawaii who was among the few establishment figures to support Bernie Sanders in 2016, are viewed as viable candidates.

Contrast this impressive list with those who are favored. You have Bernie Sanders, a 77-year old Socialist from Vermont who isn’t even a Democrat. You have Joe Biden, who has repeatedly lost in multiple prior Presidential races, and whose campaign this year has been a fiasco before he has even announced that he is running. You have Beto O’Rourke, a little-known Congressman from Texas whose views are far to the right of most Democratic activists, and who lost a campaign for U.S. Senate against the most hated man in the Senate.

Then you have Andrew Yang. Even with my interest in politics, I knew next to nothing about him.

I have to admit that I have been impressed with Buttigieg as have so many Democrats. He is an impressive individual who would be a credit to our country as President. But let’s also be real. He was the mayor of a small city in the Midwest, South Bend, IN, with 102,000 residents. I was the Deputy Mayor of a larger city in Michigan, and my boss, Mark Steenbergh, was a very impressive individual as well. Nobody’s talking about a Steenbergh for President campaign, though.

The truth is that we are very early in the race at this point. If you look at two recent polls, Biden leads one while Sanders leads the other. Buttigieg, as a viable candidate, is now facing some vetting that has not been favorable. Among the other candidates, O’Rourke, Buttigieg, Harris and Warren are all within the margin of errors of each other. At this point, four years ago, Hillary Clinton had just announced her candidacy, and neither Bernie Sanders nor Trump were even being talked about as candidates. A lot will change over the next year.

This fact just emphasizes how much of the discussion about who’s a viable candidate is based upon misogyny. When we think of a President, we still think of a white man. If for no other reason, this is why I favor electing a woman. But right now, the discussions about who is viable or not involve a small group of political commentators. There is virtually no input coming from the real America, or even Democratic activists.

This problem would be purely academic if we did not live in a system where money matters so much. Even Bernie Sanders is furiously raising money. The reality is that many donors want to give to the winner, so predictions by the talking heads about who’s ahead can become self-fulfilling, as people try to donate to the politician who is viewed as the most viable. Right now, that politician is likely to have a penis.


(Mike Greiner is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics. He posts at Medium.com.)