Is it too early to start gaming out the 2020 election? Perhaps not for Democrats, whose bench has started looking as thin as lake ice in Louisiana, and as old as a … well, let’s let Harry Reid describe it. In a profile by New York Magazine that mostly lamented his retirement as Donald Trump takes control of the White House, the outgoing Senate Minority Leader was asked whether he’d support a Joe Biden bid in the next presidential cycle. Reid’s reply highlighted the dire straits in which the party finds itself after eight years of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Reid himself:
Another aide brought up Joe Biden’s recent remark that he was thinking about running for president in 2020. “Would you support him?” she inquired.
“It depends on who’s running,” Reid replied. “It appears we’re going to have an old-folks’ home. We’ve got [Elizabeth] Warren; she’ll be 71. Biden will be 78. Bernie [Sanders] will be 79.”
Gee, I wonder how that happened? The Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate has presided over a collapse of the Democratic Party that has been completely unprecedented in its breadth and geography. Philip Bump referred to it after this election as the “Thelma and Louiseing” of Democrats, and supplied this graph to illuminate it:
Perhaps NY Mag should be lamenting Reid’s departure a little less, and delving into the damage that the three Democratic Party leaders have done. One big aspect of Reid’s damage is about to become painfully clear to Senate Democrats in the confirmation process for Trump’s Cabinet, but that’s hardly the extent of his responsibility for the results shown above. All three have driven their party off the cliff, and left it with leadership options that look equally fossilized. That’s especially true in the House, where Democrats insisted on keeping the trio of septuagenarians that produced this collapse at the top of their leadership pyramid rather than trying to bring in fresh perspectives in new leadership options.
Instead, Jason Zengerle paints Reid as Yoda-esque. No, really:
It was his declining physical condition that ultimately led him to decide not to seek reelection in 2016. Today, Reid is extremely hunched and walks with the aid of a cane; his voice, always reedy for a politician, is now sometimes so soft that it’s barely audible. But Reid is as stern and blunt as ever, and the combined effect of his mental and physical condition has given him a Yoda-ish quality. …
As the reality of Trump’s election — coupled with the GOP’s continued control of Congress — slowly sank in among shell-shocked Democrats in the final weeks of 2016, a second, almost equally jarring revelation began to dawn on them as well: They wouldn’t have Harry Reid around anymore to help them deal with this new nightmare.
Take a look at the chart above, and ask yourselves: Can Democrats really afford any more of Reid’s “help”?
This brings us back to the question which started this post: is it too early for Democrats to start thinking about 2020? If the choice is between that and being stuck in 2008, then the answer should be no. Unfortunately, they don’t have many options to get back to the White House, thanks to their collapse over the past eight years. Today’s Morning Joe panel plays a “parlor game” to come up with some potential candidates. Who are the under-60 options? Four Senators, two of whom will just be arriving next week for the first time ever, none of whom has any real national standing or executive experience. No one mentions Cory Booker, oddly enough, or for that matter Joe Manchin. He’ll be 73 in 2020, but a lot closer to the voters that Democrats lost than Elizabeth Warren.
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) December 28, 2016