Patrick currently works at Bain Capital, the private equity firm that Democrats spent 2012 criticizing because Mitt Romney had long worked there. That looked like a huge liability this time last year, when Patrick flirted with but ultimately ruled out a run. Back then, it seemed like the party’s left was ascendant and Patrick’s Bain work would be a deal-breaker. Now, I expect Patrick to be more unapologetic about his work, essentially leaning into the idea that he is more moderate and pro-capitalism than Warren or Sanders.
It all sounds pretty good on paper, right? You can almost see why Patrick decided to launch such a late, long-shot bid.
There is a potential problem, though: I’m not sure voters really want Buttigieg-but-older or Biden-but-younger. Whatever the Democratic elites think, Democratic voters like the current field, as I noted above. That makes me think that people in Iowa, where the South Bend mayor is surging, are not looking for Buttigieg-but-older. They’re probably well aware of how old Buttigieg is — he talks about it all the time! Biden, meanwhile, has led in national polls most of the year and has solid leads in Nevada and South Carolina — it’s possible many voters view his age and related experience as a feature not a bug. Patrick will be a fresh candidate and perhaps have a more honed message, but in the end may register with actual voters not much differently than Booker or Harris or any of the other lower-tier candidates, black or non-black.