Should Democrats Worry About Political Experience in 2020?

Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to high-level political experience.

It’s often been said that Donald Trump destroyed all precedents in his astonishing rise to the presidency in 2016. And one of the unusual things about him was his complete lack of prior experience in public office or running for public office.

In assessing the very large Democratic field assembling to challenge Trump in 2020, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that a lot of politicians with resumes that would not normally bespeak presidential timber have taken a look at the 45th president’s rise to the White House and concluded there are no longer any minimum requirements. Yes, there have been presidents with no prior experience in elected office, but before Trump they were all war heroes (Taylor, Grant, and Eisenhower) or Cabinet members (Taft and Hoover). A few major-party nominees were closer to Trump in the empty resume department (notably 1904 Democratic nominee Alton Parker, a state judge, and 1940 Republican nominee Wendell Willkie, a utility executive), but for the most part, especially in more recent times, the major parties have nominated former or current senators and governors.

A recent Morning Consult poll suggests that rank-and-file Democratic voters still value that kind of high-level experience, with 66 percent saying that “decades of political experience” was “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in choosing a 2020 nominee. That could help explain why two candidates (one potential and one actual) who together…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.