With Heat on Hillary, Democrats Lack “Bench Depth”

August 14th, 2015 by

With a much more vibrant (and crowded) field of candidates, the GOP presidential primaries have garnered far more attention than their counterparts on the Democratic side. Much of this lack of attention is due to the assumption that Hillary Clinton will be the runaway nominee for the Democrats, rendering the entire primary process for the party somewhat moot. In recent weeks, however, the heat on Clinton for her involvement in various scandals is making the former First Lady’s chances of securing her party’s nomination less and less probable.

The Democratic bench is empty. Source: JaseZone

The Democratic bench is empty. Source: JaseZone

If not Mrs. Clinton, then who will the Democrats nominate?

Bench Depth Becomes an Issue

If we follow the metaphor where the presidential primary field for each party is represented as a sports team, it becomes clear that if the “star candidate” for the Democrats is to falter, then they have very little depth behind her on the bench.

hillary

Between her email scandal, her oversight (or lack thereof) during the Benghazi scandal as Secretary of State, or her shadowy ties to her husband’s big business interests, Hillary Clinton is rapidly losing momentum among voters likely to support the Democratic Party. Many Democrats seem to be hoping for some alternative to Hillary, but are left with paltry options.

The Benchwarmers

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

The other candidates on the Democrats’ side are Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. While Sanders has surged in the polls by taking positions far to Mrs. Clinton’s left, his prospects in a general election are very poor with a baldly socialists platform, according to the political consensus.

Martin O'Malley

Martin O’Malley

Sanders is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, providing yet another reason to doubt his chances to mobilize the left-leaning portion of the electorate. Similarly, Mr. Chafee is a Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat; although this means that his policy views are inherently centrist and moderate, such perceived flip-flopping and political maneuvering does not help his credibility with voters on the left.

Jim Webb

Jim Webb

Even worse for the Dems, outside of Sanders, none of the other candidates are making much noise in the polls whatsoever. Though it is perhaps unfair to characterize O’Malley and Webb as “nobodies,” as both held high political offices near the nation’s capital (Maryland and Virginia, respectively), it is nonetheless true that they have little name recognition and “brand appeal” with voters across the nation.

Lincoln Chafee. Source: InsideGov.com

Lincoln Chafee. Source: InsideGov.com

There is, however, at least one dark horse candidate that could provide the Democrats with the name recognition that they so desperately need.

Will Joe Biden Run?

The incumbent vice president, Joe Biden, has not even announced his candidacy for the presidential nomination while he mulls over his options, yet the former Delaware senator still ranks third in most polls, behind Clinton and Sanders, with nearly 10% of the vote. Biden’s staffers have indicated that the VP is considering a potential run very seriously, and will wait until September to make a definitive announcement.

biden

Although Biden offers more credibility and gravitas than the other Democratic contenders (if they can be called such), he is largely an emergency reserveā€”a contingency plan of sorts. His age is also a concern, as he would be the oldest candidate in the field on either side. If Mr. Biden indeed throws his hat into the ring, it’s a sure sign that the Democrats are desperate for a viable candidate.