As mentioned in today’s Jolt, 29 Democrats of varying stature ran for president this cycle, and as the year begins, only four really have a serious shot at the nomination. Supporters of the early departure candidates — and perhaps some candidates themselves — love to blame their failure to appeal to voters on the media. The media didn’t give them a chance, didn’t pay enough attention, didn’t focus on their best issues . . . it’s as if these candidates and their top staff never contemplated that the media might not be a completely cooperative force to their presidential dreams.
I suspect this whining works, and some media institutions try to compensate for the fact that the majority of their coverage will focus on the candidates who have a shot at actually winning this thing. This means that when John Delaney talks to 20 people at Burns’ Grill & Doon Steakhouse in Doon, somebody will cover it, like Iowa Public Radio. (You never know, God forbid, he could get hit by a bus as he’s leaving. That would be news, compared to “Delaney Looks To Build Momentum As Iowa Caucuses Draw Closer.”) I continue to believe that this kind of well-meaning credulous coverage amounts to enabling individuals who are trapped in a deep and sad form of psychological denial.
Then there is the “non-frontrunner but not-quite-delusional” middle ground. Politico writes a lengthy, detail-filled profile of Amy Klobuchar, following her on the stump in Iowa, with the headline, “Why Voters Are Nervous About Amy Klobuchar,” and quotes a supporter of hers in the Cedar Rapids Ramada as lamenting, “the misogyny is so thick.” Another sad case of an Iowa Democratic caucus-goer denouncing other Iowa Democratic caucus-goers. You figure the vast majority of Iowa Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election and just about half voted for Clinton in the caucuses last year. Iowa has a Republican woman governor, a Republican woman senator, two Democratic U.S. House congresswomen, eleven women state senators, and 33 women state representatives. This is some pretty fickle and ineffective misogyny.
If you squint, you can make the “Klobuchar’s getting hot at the right time” argument, as the latest Monmouth poll has her at 8 percentage points, her second-highest number yet. Except . . . getting any delegates out of Iowa requires getting 15 percent of the vote. Klobuchar needs to more or less double her current support to walk out of the state with any delegates.
Step back for a moment. Politico is writing a lengthy profile piece trying to unravel the mystery of why Amy Klobuchar never caught fire as a presidential candidate.
There is not one suspect in this alleged mystery. Klobuchar wasn’t that well-known when the race began; it was a crowded field; her debate performances ranged from okay to easily forgotten; she’s not the choice of the party establishment or the progressive grassroots, she doesn’t have the resources to blanket the airwaves the way Bloomberg and Steyer can . . . she’s a perfectly fine, almost generic Democratic candidate in a field that was bursting with more exciting options. Sure, a Midwestern mom with corny jokes makes for a heck of a contrast with President Trump, but you can’t blame Democrats in Iowa or anyplace else for wondering if they win that matchup.