Unsurprisingly, after a week of discussion of Joe Biden’s conversations with segregationist Southern Democrats in the 1970s, the controversy appears to have done precisely nothing to affect his standing in the primary race. Twitter is not real life. The activist-centric political conversation seems to have very little traction with the broader Democratic electorate. And yet, the race does seem to be changing. At least its contours are starting to come more clearly into view.
Elizabeth Warren, through indefatigable campaigning and reams of policy proposals covering almost every topic of public interest, seems to be emerging as the left/liberal, post-Trump alternative to Joe Biden. The most conspicuous development is that Bernie Sanders does not appear to be playing that role.
Another thought: With months of campaigning already under their belts there are 5 to 7 candidates who’ve managed to generate any public support at all. There’s the top five: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris and Buttigieg. There are maybe a couple others who have barely generated any public support but are still distinguishable from the great majority who have yet to manage even as much as 1% or even half a percent of support nationally or in any state.
All of these faux candidates should really get out of the race. Anyone can run of course. It’s a free country. But because of what happened in 2016, the DNC has created a hyper-fair, hyper-equitable system for structuring the primary contest so that no one will feel, no one can claim that they were shunted out of the process, had the establishment rig the contest in favor of others, etc. The rubber meets the road in the organizing of debates. The upshot of that effort is that Elizabeth Warren, in many ways the most interesting and important contender at the moment, is relegated to what amounts to the JV debate and is not even allowed to face the other 4 or 5 real contenders in the primaries. Everyone who can’t surmount the zero percent barrier, certainly after the debates, should just drop out.
Extreme procedural fairness, in this sense, can end up being unfair to voters.