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The key to a Democratic win might be to support a smaller candidate with less liberal views.

The 2020 presidential election isn’t far from now, and the outlook for Democrats isn’t overly promising. Between not having any overwhelmingly popular candidates who could easily win office and not properly appealing to the right groups of voters, Democrats are staring another painful four years with Trump in the face — and they need to do something about it, fast. 

In order to win an election, having a generally well-liked candidate is perhaps the most foundational aspect. This is a key area where Democrats are falling short. Everyone in the running for 2020 is either well-known and hugely controversial in some way or isn’t a household name many Americans are familiar with. 

Three “big” names running for office are Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Biden creates feelings of nostalgia from Obama’s presidency, which some on-the-fence voters may not find favorable, and according to Vice, he’s been accused of prioritizing the interests of privileged voters and having a complicated relationship with social justice. With Biden’s rocky history of not convincingly advocating for social justice, he’s largely disliked among younger voters, which says a lot about a Democrat who worked closely with Obama — a favorite of younger generations.  

According to NPR, Warren and Sanders are often categorized as being “too liberal” to win over any moderate voters, which could instead sway voters to the Republican ticket and cost the Democrats their victory in 2020. For example, according to PBS, Sanders is a staunch advocate of universal healthcare — a potentially promising idea for years to come but a drastic change that should be taken in “baby-steps” and something moderate voters simply aren’t ready to hear. 

Unfortunately, some Democratic candidates in the running for 2020 have views that are well-favored and actually moderate enough to win over on the fence voters, but they’re not well-known. Andrew Yang is the perfect example of these kinds of lesser-known candidates. Yang is running as a Democrat but is extremely moderate and largely appeals to Republican populations. For example, Yang’s environmental plan involves limiting trust in government agencies to make a change and instead relying more on the influence and expertise of police forces and the military to cultivate an environmental change. This outlook combines a hugely Democratic focus on environmentalism with a more conservative execution that helps make him an ideal moderate candidate. 

The issue is, these lesser-known Democratic candidates will almost definitely not make it out of primaries if more Americans don’t start researching their policies and advocating for them.

The fact is, a moderate Democratic candidate with little controversy is the best way for Democrats to win in 2020, and this is a major area that they’re falling short in. 

The issue of gaining the support of moderate voters is a large arena that Democrats most have to cover. This is because Trump’s overall approval rating isn’t abysmal at over 40%, according to FiveThirtyEight, but his support from Republican voters has experienced a slight decline, according to The Hill. These Republicans who are “jumping off the Trump train” are lying in wait to see what candidates will pull out for the Democrats in the 2020 election — who they may decide to vote for. If one’s more moderate, it’s likely that their vote could sway liberally. It’s also important to remember that 35% of voters view themselves as being moderate, according to the Atlantic, which obviously supports the argument for a more moderate candidate. 

If Democrats want to see a victory in 2020, bigger candidates need to start advocating more moderately in certain policy areas, and Americans should start seriously researching promising candidates with a lesser voice.  

Josie Haneklau is a sophomore political science and psychology double major. Contact Josie at hanekljr@dukes.jmu.edu.