Poll: Democratic candidates love identity politics. Their voters? Not so much

We’re already seeing some complaints about “yet another white guy” entering the Democratic primary race, specifically Joe Biden. Many of the twenty current candidates are insisting that the party needs to represent “the way America looks today” and nominate either a woman or a person of color. (Or preferably both, particularly if you ask Kamala Harris.) But is that really a problem? Monmouth recently conducted an extensive survey of likely Democratic primary voters and found that attitudes out in the real world don’t seem to match up with what you’re hearing from CNN and MSNBC on a daily basis. In fact, the vast majority of those voters don’t mind at all if a while male is the nominee, as long as they can beat Donald Trump.

Diversity may be the byword for the 2020 field of Democrats, but it does not appear to be a priority in choosing a challenger to Trump according to the Monmouth University Poll. Most Democratic voters say race and gender are not factors in determining who should be the party’s presidential nominee. There have been some shifts in the current beauty contest – with a noted surge by a small city mayor – but the front-runner spot has held steady as former Vice President Joe Biden reportedly is set to jump into the race this week.

Race and gender do not seem to be important factors for Democratic voters when considering who the party should choose to run against Trump. Fully 87% say the race of the nominee does not matter. Just 5% say it would be better for Democrats to nominate a person of color, which is offset by 6% who say it would actually be better for the party to nominate a white candidate. Similarly, 77% say the gender of the nominee does not matter.

This demonstrates a major disconnect between the vocal activists who seem to be driving Democratic Party policy and the people who will actually be going to the polls to vote. Nearly 90% of Democrats don’t care about the race of the nominee, and the few who believe it should be a person of color are actually outnumbered by those who insist they’ll stand a better chance with a white candidate.

Similarly, more than three quarters don’t give a hoot about the candidate’s gender. But once again, the small number insisting on a woman are outnumbered by those who think a man will stand a better chance of unseating Donald Trump. It’s almost as if the candidates are obsessing over the color of a candidate’s skin or what’s in their pants, but the voters they need to win over are actually just asking for somebody who can get the job done.

That probably explains the heavy support for the top tier. This national poll still has Joe Biden comfortably on top with 27%, followed by Bernie Sanders at 20%. Everyone else is still in single digits, with Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris leading the second tier at 8%. Fourteen of the twenty current candidates (including most of the aforementioned “diversity” picks) didn’t manage to get one percent.

What we may be seeing here yet again is the outsized influence of both social media and cable news, where “top talkers” love to focus on stories that get people excited. Diversity makes for a wonderful storyline and leads to all sorts of discussions (and accusations) about racism, sexism and all of the other isms. But what’s clearly happening is that a relatively small number of activists’ voices are being massively amplified to the point where they sound like they represent a majority of the party. Meanwhile, out in the real world, Democratic voters (and we can safely assume a large number of Republicans and independents) are scratching their heads and wondering what all of these talking heads are talking about. What they really want is a country that works and candidates who can not only be elected but get the job done when they take office.

Funny old world, isn’t it?