Sanders is current front-runner in a tight race
By Ken Barlow
The Democratic presidential primary race has no clear nominee. The party and many candidates have stated that their goal is to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, but this could be difficult since there is no candidate dominating the democratic primary elections.
Before the caucus and primary elections former Vice President Joe Biden was favored to win the Democratic nomination but is currently fifth in delegates. Biden announced his campaign on April 25th. Many believed that Biden would be the best candidate to defeat Trump. His electability was appealing and one of the reasons he was the leading candidate going into late January. However, after the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary election, Biden has fallen 11 points in polls conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post.
Currently, Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading the race for the nomination. ABC News and The Washington Post report that Sanders has increased in polls by 8% since Jan. 23. Sanders currently holds 21 delegates, second to Pete Buttigieg’s 22 delegates.
Sanders is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist and even considers his ideas radical to Americans. His focus has been on his “Medicare For All” proposal, which is a single-payer health insurance plan that would be provided to all Americans. In addition, his proposal includes no premiums, deductibles or copays. Sanders’ also wants to make college tuition-free and to curtail the influence of billionaires.
Former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg is also surging up polls. In a poll conducted between Feb. 13-16 by NPR and PBS Newshour, Bloomberg held 19% of Democratic support. This was enough to qualify him for the Nevada primary election debate on Wednesday.
According to Business Insider, as of February 18th, the Bloomberg campaign had spent $338.7 million in advertisements. This broke the presidential advertisement spending record held by former President Barack Obama in 2012. According to FiveThirtyEight, Bloomberg has been paying for almost 60% of all presidential advertisements. Trump has spent close to $16 million and Tom Steyer is second in spending on advertisements at an estimated $136 million.
Bloomberg’s campaign is focused on equal opportunity for all. According to his campaign website, Bloomberg has emphasized rebuilding the middle class and bringing everybody along with it through “equal rights, opportunities, and justice.” In addition, Bloomberg has been a long-time advocate for increasing gun control regulations.
Current delegate leader and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg is a moderate-left candidate. Buttigieg differentiates himself as a young person wishing to help America tackle issues millennials face. Buttigieg recently shared in an interview with Edward- Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic that he was running to help represent this new generation that is facing issues older generations have never dealt with.
“If you’re my age or younger, you were in high school when the school shootings became widespread; you’re going to be dealing with climate change for most of your adult life in specific, noticeable ways,” Buttigieg said. “It just gives you a very different relationship to
political decision makers and decision making.”
Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar gained a combined 15 delegates in New Hampshire. The presence of Klobuchar has hurt Buttigieg and likely hindered the number of delegates he would have received, since they are both moderate-left candidates. This has benefited Sanders.
According to a tweet from Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossmann, “Bernie won & both his main national competitor (Biden) & his ideological faction competitor (Warren) lost badly. But field remains too muddled for him to see full assault. All good for Bernie.”
Biden’s decrease in voters has also left speculation to where this support is going. University of Virginia and Center for Politics writers Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman note that over the last month Bloomberg went up 7.5 points in the FiveThirtyEight national polls and Biden dropped 7.5 points.
“The field is so fractured and fluid that it would be wrong to suggest Bloomberg is siphoning all his newfound support from former Biden supporters, but it’s also not a total coincidence,” wrote Kondik and Coleman.
Kondik and Coleman also noted that Bloomberg has increased in black voter support in polling and Biden has seen a slip in this demographic.
Others have also noticed the dip in Biden’s support from black people and voters overall. Politico reported a statement from Quentin James, the leader of a political PAC that backs black candidates.
“A big reason lots of black voters were with Biden is they thought he was the best person to beat Trump,” James said. “And they thought one reason for that is that he had the support of white voters. Now they see he has done so poorly with white voters and he no longer looks like the electability candidate.”
Even with a strong start, Sanders is still likely to be contested. His advantage stems from his early lead along with Buttigieg and that nominations are being split among the moderate-left candidates.
The next states, Nevada and South Carolina, are diverse voting states, and in the New Hampshire primary election, center-left candidates received more support than progressive and further left candidates. There is no strong candidate leading this race.
What’s the issue?
By Katelyn Latture
There is a lot of talk currently being thrown into the computers, televisions, radios, phones and faces of Americans as the United States prepares for the 2020 national election. With all this noise, it can be difficult to know what the actual issues are.
According to Dr. Saundra Ardrey, an associate professor of political science at Western Kentucky University, candidates are “spending too much time on things that don’t matter,” and Americans need to be better informed. Here is a quick rundown of four issues candidates are running on during this election cycle.
The economy, arguably more than any other aspect of the country’s well-being, is the primary issue concerning voters in most elections.
The state of the economy heavily affects the way voters decide in elections, especially the presidential ones, Ardrey said.
“This is what makes it so tough for the political left in this election. They don’t want to talk much about the economy because that’s an issue that will favor Trump and the Republicans,” Jim Waters, the president and CEO of Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, said. “Yet the left isn’t succeeding in either downplaying or ignoring the roaring economy we now have – at least not with its current crop of presidential candidates.”
Analysts, professors and other political experts have concluded that President Donald Trump will run on the success of the economy because Americans vote in that direction.
When it comes to how Democrats will approach the economic argument, they will likely have to look at the fine statistics and details behind the improving economy, Ardrey said.
The economy and jobs may be improving, but what are the specifics? In some cases, people are working two or more jobs, and that is partially why unemployment rates have improved and the economy is doing well. Democrats will need to prove this in order combat the president’s claim to economic success.
Foreign engagement encompasses a few issues that will be prevalent during this election cycle: the military, immigration and combating terrorism.
“[Trump] will also point to his success in taking out terrorist leaders and in immigration policy, particularly reducing the number of illegal individuals entering the country at the southern border,” Waters said.
A study from the Pew Research Center found “that defending the country against terrorism remains a top priority among the public overall.”
As for Republicans, “defending the country from terrorist attacks (87%) ranks as the leading policy priority for the president and Congress… and dealing with the issue of immigration (73%).”
As of this point in the Democratic race, there is no single Democratic foreign policy, an article from the New York Times reported. The remaining Democratic candidates have differing views on certain issues of foreign policy – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said they would continue the “personal diplomacy” Trump developed with North Korea. Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar said they would not. Differing views are also present in how they would deal with conflict in Israel, protect oil shipments, handle nuclear warfare and other issues of foreign policy.
“Unless Democrats get their act together, Trump will win again,” Ardrey said.
“These [voters] are people who are not thinking policy wise — they’re thinking about things that they or their friends have read, about how things are outrageously expensive,” Robert Blendon, a political analysis and health policy professor at Harvard, said in a recent article from Politico. “There’s no need to get in a fight over who has the best big plan for the future.”
An article from NPR suggests voters are worried more by the cost of health coverage than whether they are covered or not. For many voters, it boils down to money: whether they have enough money to live comfortably and where their money is going.
Health care is the issue Democratic candidates have been discussing heavily, and Waters said Trump’s record on health care is what Democrats will want to challenge more than anything.
Trump, as Americans know from the previous national election cycle, wanted to undo former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which did not work out as planned. There is not yet an official health care policy from the Republican side.
Democratic candidates are currently suggesting more socialized versions of health care coverage, a Healthline article said.
This same article said Sanders and Warren currently promote Medicare for All, which does not have one official policy. There are several possible ways that, if this form of health care made it to Congress, this policy could be implemented. Basically, Medicare for All would move the U.S. from a multi-payer system to a single-payer system, meaning taxes would pay for the entire nation’s health care coverage.
Biden and Klobuchar, on the other hand, are suggesting reforms to the ACA, according to Healthline.
According to a survey from Pew, “environmental protection and global climate change are rising on the public’s agenda for the president and Congress.”
This concern has risen in the past few years and crossed partisan lines, according to the survey’s findings. However, the survey results showed “climate change is near the top of the list of issues among Democrats and Democratic leaners.”
Republicans are not as concerned with climate change — 39% of Republicans, as opposed to the 85% of surveyed Democrats — but are now addressing it because Democratic politicians, other Americans and people internationally are talking about it.
Ardrey does not wholly agree with these statements. She said, despite people voicing their concerned about certain issues, even climate change, they almost always vote with their pocketbooks.
She proposes people, when considering elections and for whom they should vote, ask themselves, “Am I better off today than I was yesterday?” If so, they are more likely to vote for the incumbent. If not, they may vote for the challenging candidate.
Regardless of the issues, both Ardrey and Waters concluded, perhaps this race isn’t as much about the issues but is more about a candidate’s likeability and whether the voters think they are doing well.
4 issues shaping the Kentucky 2020 election cycle
By Kristina Francis
With the 2020 election cycle in full swing following the Iowa caucuses, voters are beginning to focus on issues they care about and which candidate aligns with their viewpoint.
The Kentucky gubernatorial race between former Gov. Matt Bevin and current Gov. Andy Beshear in November 2019 gave voters and candidates a glimpse into issues that will be significant in 2020 — education, pensions, abortion rights and health care.
Voter registration statistics from January 2020 from the Commonwealth of Kentucky State Board of Elections show that there is a total of 3,462,152 registered voters in Kentucky.
Kentucky is historically a predominantly red state, but there are more Democrats registered than Republicans. As of January 2020, there are 1,678,538 Democrats registered in the state, compared to 1,477,985 Republicans. This difference in numbers and opinions on issues could
result in changes to elected Kentucky officials in 2020.
Education was a focal point of Beshear’s campaign, and what pundits say aided his victory. It’s still an issue on the minds of Kentucky voters, meaning it could impact 2020 state elections.
Isabel Maremont-Lake, a 30-year-old teacher at Doss High School in Louisville, said education is an issue at the state level, which is why it played a major role in the gubernatorial race.
Barrett Hoagland, an 18-year-old voter from Louisville, is concerned with education in relation to the 2020 election cycle. Hoagland said she’s concerned about education because she spent her last year of high school watching her teachers risk their job security in order to protest the reworking of their pension plans, among other issues.
The Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) plan provides retirement benefits for Kentucky workers in non-hazardous jobs. According to an article published by the Louisville Courier-Journal, the KRS plan “reports $13.6 billion in unfunded liabilities and is considered to be the worst-funded public pension plan in America.”
Gwendolyn McClendon, a 58-year-old voter in Louisville, says Kentucky residents should not have to work after they retire due to their pension not being able to support them. Pensions are a main concern for her due to how different groups of people are touched by the issue.
“The wealthy, they’re not being touched, or they’re being touched where it doesn’t even affect them. And the people who worked hard all their life — it’s affecting them,” McClendon said.
Abortion is a national issue that voters are concerned with, whether they’re pro-choice or pro-life. Until January 2020, there was only one abortion clinic in Kentucky, located in Louisville. According to an article from the Courier-Journal, there are now two clinics in Louisville.
A Planned Parenthood facility in downtown Louisville was granted permission to resume providing abortions in January. When Bevin was in office, he denied the location a license to provide abortions twice, the Courier-Journal reported.
Not all voters see eye-to-eye about the changes Beshear is making with abortion clinics, which could be an issue that current candidates focus on and voters make their deciding factor.
Joshua Crawford, executive director of the Pegasus Institute, a non-partisan Kentucky think tank, said abortion is an issue with which Kentuckians are concerned.
“[Pew Research Center] tracks this, and I think it’s something like 52% of Kentucky voters believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances,” Crawford said. Crawford was close, with Pew reporting 57% of Kentucky voters say abortion should be illegal.
Crawford told Top Politics that during Kentucky’s gubernatorial election voters said they view abortion as a federal issue. “Those voters who said abortion is a federal issue and so it didn’t matter as much in the state election — I think you’ll see those folks vote that way in the federal elections,” Crawford said.
Hoagland said she is supporting Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who’s represented Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District since 2007, based on similar views on abortion because it’s an issue that resonates with her as a woman.
“As John Yarmuth has previously voted against banning federal health coverage which included abortion, his platform is one I can see myself aligning with,” Hoagland said.
Health care is an issue with which Kentuckians, and most voters in the United States, are concerned, meaning it will play a predominant role in elections all the way up to the presidential race.
Crawford said health care is already showing to be a main issue in national elections, as “polls from the Iowa Democratic caucus had health care as the number one issue for Democrat caucus-goers.”
“I think you’ll see among Kentucky voters a similar sort of rejection of that kind of full federal takeover of health care, but I do think health care will be an issue Democrats try to use because they’ve used it successfully in some other races,” Crawford said.
Maremont-Lake said healthcare is a main concern for her. Although she said she has good health insurance, not everyone does. Some also have family members to care for, just as she does with her son who permanently has an ear infection.
“I have good health insurance and it still costs a lot of money every time I have to go to the doctor,” Maremont-Lake said.