Dems worry: Does the fact that white men top our presidential polls and fundraising mean we're hypocrites?

Behold the uncomfortable collision between progressive identity politics and everyone else outside that bubble. At the beginning of this primary cycle, everyone assumed that the Democratic presidential nominee would be either a woman, a person of color, or both. After all, the party’s leadership can’t talk about practically anything else except the authenticity of identity these days.


So … why are the top polling leaders and fundraisers almost all white dudes? The Hill reports that Democrats have grown concerned over a lack of diversity at the top:

Less than a year after women altered the political landscape and helped win back the House, some Democrats are voicing disappointment that presidential bids launched by women haven’t completely taken off.

Six Democratic women are running for president in a dramatic increase from previous years. But just one, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), is in the top tier of the 18 candidates in the race.

And Harris is just outside the very top tier of the race, according to polls that consistently show former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to enter the contest, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at the very top of the pyramid. …

“A few months ago, I imagined the top tier looking very different, especially after the 2018 midterm wins and the ‘Me Too’ movement,” one female Democratic strategist said. “It’s still early, but it is a little frustrating.”

The worry increased this week when Pete Buttigieg’s fundraising numbers got published. The South Bend, Indiana mayor jumped into the race later than the higher-profile Senate Democrats, but he scooped up more money than all of them:

Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign raised more money in the first quarter of 2019 than better-known Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, all U.S. senators.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., reported $7 million in donations from individuals. Warren, D-Mass., raised $6 million. Klobuchar, D-Minn., took in $5.2 million and Sen. Booker, D-N.J., received $5 million.

Buttigieg still significantly trails Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vt., who leads the field, having raised $18.2 million in the first quarter, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who raised $12 million and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, who raked in $9.4 million. But the fourth-place showing for someone who was virtually unknown outside his hometown a few months ago was notable.


It’s notable, all right, and not just for Buttigieg. Klobuchar, Booker, and Warren all had rather lengthy pre-launch media arcs as acknowledged Serious Candidates for 2020. All three check off important demographic boxes for Democrats. And yet all of them can’t gain traction against Buttigieg and O’Rourke, both of whom have relatively small core constituencies from their offices, nor against a senator from one of the lesser-populated states in Sanders.

Note too that these fundraising reports leave out the actual polling frontrunner in the race, Joe Biden, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy. Biden can expect to pick up a lot of support from the Obama machine when he does, combined with the resources he has cultivated over almost fifty years in Washington DC. When he does jump in, it’s entirely possible that the top four slots in the 2020 primary race will be occupied by white men.

Is that because Democrats are hypocrites, and/or racist and sexist bigots hoping to keep Teh Patriarchy in place? You can bet that’d be the explanation if it happened to Republicans in this cycle. That’s not really the problem, however; the issue is that America in general is a lot less caught up in identity politics than Democrats are. They’re not prioritizing the Intersectional Identity Index when it comes to looking for presidential candidates. They want a candidate who comes closest to their preferences on policy and tone, not skin color, gender, and/or sexual preference. That’s because presidents and other elected officials have impacts on policy that matter, whereas immutable characteristics are, well, immutable.


The Hill writes that Democrats are worried about projecting a double standard. They’d better worry more about being this much out of touch with voters outside the progressive-academic bubble.

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