February 2, 2019


David Axelrod on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and the 2020 Field (Isaac Chotiner, 2/02/19, The New Yorker)

Trump is at around thirty-nine per cent in the polls. That's all adults. When you make that registered voters or likely voters, it's probably forty-three per cent or so. We know he may only need to get forty-six, forty-seven per cent to win, thanks to the Electoral College. Given that he's just had a horrific couple months, it doesn't seem to me like he's actually that far off from once again stitching together a winning coalition.

I think it's hard for him. He drew an inside straight in the last [Presidential] election and squeaked through in the upper Midwest, which showed real resistance to him in the midterm elections. If he were to lose Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, all of which had strong Democratic showings in 2018, he would lose the Presidency, and there's not one state I can think of that Trump could add. [...]

Are you worried about Democrats possibly moving too far left on cultural or economic issues?

I think that what is most important is to not send the signals that were sent in 2016, which is, "We've got young people, we've got minorities, we've got women, so, you white working-class guys, we don't really need you." They believed it. They voted for Trump. And that is something that you can affect at the margins by addressing your message broadly, and I think Democrats should do that.

I think the country as a whole is restless on the issue of health care, whether it's Medicare-for-all or some other prescription, as it were. I think people are eager for another round of health-care reform. I do think people think that there's something wrong with our system right now, with this tremendous aggregation of wealth at the top while the majority of people are pedalling faster and faster to keep up. So I don't think those issues are particularly radical. How you address them is another question.

What's your biggest fear about how they're addressed politically?

I don't have that much of a concern. I mean, obviously, Democrats made big gains in the suburbs. One could make the argument that talk of a wealth tax or taxing people who make more than ten million dollars a year and so on is somehow radical. I don't think most Americans, broadly, feel that way. So, on the economic issues, I have less concerns.

We are a very diverse country, culturally, and how you approach those issues is important. I think about what made Beto O'Rourke, for example, a successful candidate in Texas. He had a progressive platform. But the thing that made him successful, to the extent he was successful there, was this sense that he was going out, he was having honest dialogue with people, he was listening to them, he was respectful of who they were, he was trying to work through some of these issues. And I think that's the tone that the Democrats should set.

Posted by at February 2, 2019 10:25 AM