Klobmentum!

Okay, mostly, I really like that horribly awkward portmanteau.  Also, my current top choice, Warren, is surely done after the NH results.  And you know my issues with Biden and Bernie.  I actually mostly like Buttigieg, but, sorry, I really want a president with more political experience than being the mayor of the 4th largest city in Indiana.  Experience actually matters.

As for the NH results.  Saw a lot of bad takes on twitter last night that ignore the singularly important fact that primary performance is all about performance relative to expectations.  And the media sets those expectations.  And recent polling is a big part of that.  So, yes, Klobmentum.

Obviously, Matt Yglesias was waiting to drop his case for Klobuchar until the NH results came rolling in and looking good for her:

Earlier this year, FiveThirtyEight computed a “popularity above replacement senator” score for every member of the upper house. It compares each senator’s home state favorable rating to the underlying partisan attributes of the state. Nos. 1 and 2 are West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who’ve run and won in deep-red states. No. 3 is Klobuchar — a Democrat who is just really good at making Midwesterners like her.

Klobuchar’s case is way stronger than that of other moderates

When I wrote the case for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I cited his distinctive progressive views on national security and monetary policy issues as key considerations.

If you think that stuff is important (and I do), then taking a calculated risk on electability makes sense. But it was, to me, especially compelling when the alleged electability alternative was a septuagenarian former vice president who backed the war in Iraq and is already plagued by questions about whether his family has gotten rich through trading on his name.

Klobuchar, by contrast, is a Sanders alternative who offers a genuine trade-off — she’s running on a less ambitious agenda, but that consists almost entirely of being careful to avoid politically unpopular positions. She’s for taking action on climate change, but not for a fracking ban. She’s for a public option and price curbs on prescription drugs rather than an expensive Medicare-for-all program. She’d do a better job than Sanders of appealing to swing voters, and Sanders would need to try to make it up by pulling in third-party supporters or new voters.

This is similar to the Biden pitch, but with stronger evidence. And basically everything Dylan Matthews wrote in his case for Pete Buttigieg applies as much or more to Klobuchar.

She’s spent most of the 2020 campaign being largely ignored because she’s simply not that distinctive or interesting. She’s the typical age for a presidential aspirant, has the typical qualifications, and has somewhat banal Democratic Party policy views.

But typical is typical for a reason. If you want a political revolution or to take a shot at imposing a wealth tax on America’s billionaires, then probably none of this is very persuasive. Fair enough.

For a long time, though, Biden was riding high on something much simpler — the perception he could beat Trump and restore basic competence and integrity to government.

Over the past couple of weeks, Biden’s shortcomings have started to loom larger and he’s plummeting in the polls. But if his basic message appeals to you — and clearly it does appeal to a lot of Democrats — you owe it to yourself to ask if Klobuchar isn’t the most effective vehicle for that message.

And if NC primary were tomorrow (it’s Super Tuesday) she’d definitely have my vote.  It’s not, and my vote on March 3 will be all about who I think is most likely to defeat Trump.  As of today, I think that’s Klobuchar.

 

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

3 Responses to Klobmentum!

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Klobuchar doesn’t have the money to keep going right now. Maybe Bloomberg will think she can beat Trump and help her financially if he decides he can’t win the primaries.
    You all know Warren has been my candidate since I bought a magnet years ago that says “I belong to the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party”. If she has to leave the field, maybe she’ll endorse Amy. Women have to stick together if they ever want a woman President.
    I’d really like to know how Klobuchar’s staff thought of her as a boss.

    • Steve Greene says:

      I wonder if Warren’s mistake was going after Bernie supporters who were ultimately un-gettable. A friend who works on the Hill (and solid liberal D) says there’s actually way worse stuff about Klobuchar.

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