It’s no secret that anyone looking to put someone new in the Oval Office come November has quite the uphill battle on their hands. While supporters of President Donald Trump appear to remain galvanized and energized (Who knew that bigotry and jingoism delivered through grade school-level Twitter fingers would stick as white conservative America’s wet dream?), the Democratic base seems to be split into three groups: those who are still holding out for true progressivism in leadership, those who actually believe in Democrats as the party America thrives behind and those who really just want the sour tangerine-flavored xenophobe out of the White House.
A progressive think tank believes they’ve found the perfect solution for placating all three groups: Stacey Abrams.
According to NBC News, a network of well-off political donors led by women named Way to Win commissioned Data for Progress, an organization that considers themselves “the think tank for true progressivism,” according to their website, to analyze potential running mates for the Democratic nominee. This move came after frontrunner Joe Biden washed candidate Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday.
For what it’s worth, Data for Progress polls have been lauded for their accuracy in predicting presidential primary outcomes this year, so maybe the study they conducted concluding that Abrams, despite the former Georgia House rep. being the least well-known among the potential running mates included, is the most viable pick merits a closer look.
[Data for Progress] conducted an online survey of 4,998 likely voters across the country on March 12 to gauge how potential Democratic tickets would fare against Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
The group tested five buzzed-about potential options: Abrams and Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey (Biden has since committed to picking a woman).
Sean McElwee, Data for Progress’ founder, wrote in a memo analyzing the study’s findings that Abrams simply polled the strongest among the widest range of demographic groups.
“A Biden–Abrams ticket would beat a Trump-Pence ticket and perform competitively with other hypothetical tickets, while also overperforming with key groups that constitute the Democratic Party’s base,” McElwee wrote.
According to the memo, the Biden-Abrams pairing didn’t poll quite as well with young voters as a hypothetical ticket pairing Sen. Elizabeth Warren with Biden did, but it wasn’t far behind. With independent voters, Abrams did just as well as Sen. Amy Klobuchar whereas Warren scored significantly lower with independents. Most notably, the Biden-Abrams ticket was the big poll winner among black people and women of color, which could serve to bolster Biden’s black voter support, among which the Democratic primary has already proven him favorable.
But according to Way to Win executive director Tory Gavito, primary support doesn’t equal general election turnout.
“Primary voters are your regular voters. If it was church, those are people who show up every Sunday. We need to figure out how to get new people in the pews,” Gavito said, according to NBC.
Gavito also noted that choosing the right running mate is even more important in the coming presidential race than it has been in past elections and highlighted the importance of demographic diversity being considered in the decision.
“Historically, folks will tell you the VP pick is less important. I think we are not in a typical historic moment,” Gavito told NBC News. “When it comes to what it takes to win, we have to balance the ticket with gender, ideological, geographic, racial and generational diversity.”
The memo released by Data for Progress warns against choosing Warren or any other Democratic senator, even those from loyal blue states because a Republican could win the seat, meaning, our president may be blue but crucial Senate votes may cease to be.
“Other hypothetical tickets raise significant concerns about control of the Senate,” the memo states. “There are even risks for Biden picking Warren to run as his vice president. The governor of Massachusetts is Charlie Baker, a Republican, who will have the power to appoint a replacement for Warren until a special election takes place.”
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Abrams has been suggested as Biden’s vice-presidential choice. Earlier this month, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who endorsed Biden, suggested that the former VP choose a black woman as a running mate, saying, “I really believe that we’ve reached a point in this country where African American women need to be rewarded for the loyalty that they’ve given to this party. So I would really be pushing for an African American female to go on the ticket.” Abrams was at the top of Clyburn’s list of potential picks, along with Sen. Kamala Harris.
The one person involved in all this whose thoughts on the matter haven’t been heard recently is Abrams herself. Although we should all remember that last year she made an appearance on The View where she expressed zero interest in being Biden’s or anyone else’s running mate.
“I think you don’t run for second place,” Abrams said. “If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary. And if I don’t enter the primary, my job is to make certain that the best Democrat becomes the nominee, and whoever wins the primary, that we make sure that person gets elected in 2020.”