A moderate candidate is the Democratic Party’s best bet

by Miles Streicek, Staff Writer

On March 3, the people of California and 15 other jurisdictions casted their votes for the nominee of the Democratic party who will ultimately go on to face President Trump. After the Super Tuesday results were made public, the race quickly narrowed down to just two candidates with any chance of victory: Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. It is important for the Democratic Party to elect a moderate if they want to be successful in the presidential election.

Mayor Pete Butigeig and Sen. Amy Klobuchar had a strong showing in early states due to having large, well-funded campaign presences. Their goal was to perform well enough to gain traction nationally, but that effort was largely unsuccessful. They both eventually ended up dropping out and both endorsing Biden.

The billionaire New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in contrast, went for a very different strategy. He skipped the early, competitive states entirely and focused on spending hundreds of millions in advertisements on all forms of media in the Super Tuesday states, from AM radio to Youtube. Many accused him of trying to buy the election, which is largely true, considering he spent an unprecedented sum of more than $500 million in just the Super Tuesday states. 

But he struggled to get 15% in most states and only succeeded in winning the tiny territory of American Samoa. Just one day after this disappointing showing, he dropped out and endorsed Biden as well.

Bernie Sanders has managed to consolidate support from the progressive and socialist wings of the Democratic party base, edging out Sen. Elizabeth Warren who competed with him for that voting demographic. He also has universal name recognition, giving him – from a statistical perspective – the highest floor of support, meaning that he has the largest fan base and highest percentage of the population who are solidly in his camp. This dominance with a select voting demographic carried him to victory so far in New Hampshire, Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado and Vermont. He will most likely gain most of the support that would have otherwise gone to Warren in the upcoming state primaries. 

However, he lacks support from moderates in his own party which shows poorly on general election prospects, and has a particular weakness with suburban voters. In the majority of polls he is defeated by President Trump, and is ultimately the less electable choice.

Biden instead courted a more diverse base of support. He has the largest support among black voters, old voters and conservative- to moderate-leaning Democrats. Much of his appeal is based on his tenureship as President Barack Obama’s second in command. 

Among such voters, Obama has a virtually mythical status, and his trust for Biden makes voters who value stability comfortable with him. His coalition of support allows him to currently be in first place in total votes received and standing in polls. 

He was able to win Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, both Carolinas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Maine. He ultimately is the most electable candidate of the two, matching up well in polls against the president’s formidable incumbency and large base.

The battle between Biden and Sanders for the hearts and minds of the American people will be an intense and heated one. Its significance cannot be understated. On one side, Biden represents the Obama legacy and what it traditionally means to be a Democrat. He has stated many times that Americans do not want a revolution and he will instead improve the existing system. He, for example, has advocated for the expansion of Obamacare without eliminating private insurance. 

On the other hand, Sanders represents a growing movement within the left wing of the country that wants serious fundamental changes to the system the country operates under. It’s common knowledge that he self-identifies as Democratic Socialist and his policies, more so now than in 2016, match that identity. He advocates Medicare, like Joe Biden, but he wants to kick millions of people off of their private or union healthcare against their will, arguing that it will be cheaper under a universal medicare plan. He also advocates for plans that change core aspects of the way the country is run, including the Green New Deal, universal kindergarten and child care, a massive increase in public housing and a universal jobs program. All of these propositions would likely end up being multi-trillion dollar pursuits.

The rest of the states left in the Democratic primary are going to decide between the two, and the impact of either of their administrations could not be more significant, yet highly contrasting. The choice is between the established Democratic Party, the DNC and their many donors represented by Biden versus the passionate supporters of socialism, increased government intervention and increased taxation are represented by Sanders. The stakes could not be higher.

Miles Streicek is a junior studying finance.