Far and away the most common variety in 2020 is the hack who could win the affection of the base while losing to Trump in spectacular fashion. Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, even Elizabeth Warren all answer to this description. Meanwhile, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is the best example of a candidate who could win a general election handily even though he will never get anywhere close to the top of the primary. What was true of Bernie in 2016 remains true now, though Brown’s home state advantage is the most desirable of any potential candidate’s. For very different reasons — i.e., a record of handsiness that will cost him in the #MeToo era — Joe Biden also belongs to this category.
Who could do both, though? My money would be on Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She has the folksy style, the middle-of-the-road record, the necessary identity politics checkmark, and interesting biography. For the women’s march crowd she has anti-Kavanaugh bona fides; for the retired union voter in Ohio, she has warm nostalgia about her miner grandfather putting money for his children’s college tuition in a coffee can. She is the only candidate who is acceptable both to her party and to the small but all-important number of midwestern Obama voters who went for Trump in 2016 and who will once again decide the presidency next fall.