Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Vox on 2020: ‘Buy Klobuchar; sell Gillibrand’

At least until we get past the imminent midterms, it’s best not to waste too much time thinking about whom the Democrats might nominate for president in 2020. But you can bet that those who harbor such an ambition think about it plenty.

(When Minnesota’s Rudy Boschwitz was in the Senate, he used to joke that he was the only member of that body not thinking about running for president, and that was because Boschwitz, who was born in Germany, was prohibited from the presidency by the constitutional requirement that the president be a “natural born citizen” of the United States.)

Minnesota’s current senior U.S. senator, Amy Klobuchar, who is rated as a safe bet to win a third term in November, is on the list of those who are mentioned as “eyeing a bid,” as the cliché goes. It’s a long list, Klobuchar is less famous nationally than many other bid eye-ers, but she got a nice mention this week from the handicappers at

I’ll tell you what they said just below, but first, bear in mind, that forecasting a presidential race that’s two years away is slightly less reliable than forecasting the weather two months ahead. This is surely for only the most addicted political junkies. But here goes:

Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein and Dylan Matthews of Vox, citing the betting website PredictIt, frame the  handicapping as if it were a futures market, where you can buy or sell shares of a candidate with each penny of the price reflecting a 1 percent likelihood that she or he will be the Dem nominee in 2020.

Surprisingly, to me, California Sen. Kamala Harris currently tops the list, with a price of 22 cents, followed by Bernie Sanders (18 cents); Cory Booker and Joe Biden (both 15 cents); Elizabeth Warren (14 cents); Kirsten Gillibrand (11 cents) and Amy Klobuchar (5 cents) followed by Andrew Cuomo, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Kaine and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, all priced at less than a nickel.

But, at those prices, the Vox-ers have some suggestions for how you should invest your imaginary pennies starting with (and this is the subhead that set off this post):

“Buy Klobuchar; sell Gillibrand.” According to this particular future-seeing foolishness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Klobuchar is more likely than Gillibrand to be the nominee, but that their latest hunch is that Gillibrand is less than 11 percent likely and Klobuchar is more than 5 percent likely.

But the recommended change gave the Vox-ers a chance to make the case for Klobuchar, whom they called “the most popular politician in America.” Then they immediately qualified that, heavily, by saying only that she has a very high approval rating (60 percent) in Minnesota, which, they go on to explain, is especially impressive because, after the close presidential race in Minnesota in 2016, we are now viewed as a somewhat purplish state, which makes a 60 percent approval rating all that much more impressive. Based on that, and a few other thoughts, Yglesias writes:

To the extent that Democrats want to put their various factional disputes aside and just try to win the damn election, Klobuchar smells a lot like the electability candidate to me. Democrats are aware that they need to do better at appealing to the secular, white, Midwestern working-class voters who backed John Kerry and Barack Obama but then flipped to Trump. Klobuchar has a proven track record of winning those voters without necessarily taking any positions on issues that Democrats elsewhere have too much of a problem with.

Is she a guaranteed winner? No. But I think she deserves to be a top-tier candidate alongside Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), etc.

Klobuchar surely won’t acknowledge any interest in running for president until after November. Then we’ll see what happens. (How’s that for a prediction?)

The full Vox piece is here. And, if this increases your inclination to read the whole thing, their second subhead is “Buy Avenatti; Sell Oprah.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 09/18/2018 - 02:10 pm.

    That sub-head does NOT increase my desire to click.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/18/2018 - 04:23 pm.

    “…forecasting a presidential race that’s two years away is slightly less reliable than forecasting the weather two months ahead…”

    I think what Eric should have said was, “…forecasting a presidential race that’s two years away is slightly less reliable than forecasting the weather EIGHT months ahead…”

    Two months from now is the middle of November. We know it’ll be colder, possibly rainy, and generally less pleasant to be outside in shorts, flip-flops and a t-shirt than it was a week ago, during the latest 90-degree spell. Eight months from now is mid-May. We may need shorts and flip-flops, or we may need to drag the winter boots out of the closet. I’ve only lived here 9 years, but my impression so far is that, in a weather context, **anything** can happen in May.

  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/18/2018 - 08:32 pm.

    Klobs? Been there, done that.

    I recall back in oh-eight, we tried a centrist Dem who was friendly to Wall Street and the Fortune 500. He tried to reach out to the other side, and it took that feller a few years before he realized the other side had no interest in helping him accomplish anything. He advocated a health care insurance plan that preserved private profits, in fact it was a plan that the other fellers had even come up with a few years before. No matter, they wouldn’t play ball with him no way no how.

    No thanks, we don’t need another milquetoast personality. We need a fighter with bold ideas on how to improve economics for working folks, not someone who thinks they can work with that there McConnell fella.

  4. Submitted by Josh Lease on 09/19/2018 - 09:54 am.

    A prominent political consultant once told me, “Amy Klobuchar is perfectly suited to be vice-president.” It was one of the most damning indictments of a politician I’ve ever heard.

  5. Submitted by Jon Ruff on 09/19/2018 - 10:21 am.

    From the above list of contenders I feel certain that Senator Klobuchar would be the best candidate and the best President.But lets be real.
    At the risk of being labeled (incorrectly) a racist misogynist, I’d suggest that the President from the 2020 elections will be a white guy.And a white female Vice-President.
    Nobody speaks “White Guy” better then Joe Biden.
    The first female president will probably have first been a Vice-President.
    Biden\Klobuchar seems a natural to me

  6. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 09/19/2018 - 10:41 am.

    She is definitely VP material.

    However – I still have a hard time remembering the top 3 things she has accomplished in the Senate? Not one of her campaign workers at the Stare Fair could come up with one accomplishment.

    This lack of accomplishment could be a resume enhancement for the Dems.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 09/19/2018 - 12:57 pm.

      Are you kidding? It’s a core tenet of Republicans.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/19/2018 - 12:57 pm.

      You’re kidding, right? You support President Trump, but you are sneering at what you perceive to be Senator Klobuchar’s “lack of accomplishment” before she might run for President?

      It’s a joke, right?

  7. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/19/2018 - 11:22 am.

    Sen Klobuchar is certainly competent for the job, in the same way that candidates Kerry & Gore were; good on paper, but not gonna get the votes. Dems will be successful with someone a little more passionate about their positions, who inspires voters; more like a BHO or WJC. They need to think of this as Kennedy v Nixon.

  8. Submitted by Paul John Martin on 09/19/2018 - 12:33 pm.

    We have had 3 Presidents born in my birth year of 1946. Each has been further out of touch with our current needs than the one before. The others of my Boomer contemporaries who are involved in politics are now much too wedded to the pursuit of wealth and power to do any better, and too out of touch with the Millennials to speak for them. We have had our day. The Democrats need to nominate not just a Warren or Sanders who will work for the needs of ordinary people, but someone from the next generation who can see with fresh eyes and dare fresh solutions. That might be a Kamala Harris or a Cory Booker, but it is at least as likely to be someone whose name we scarcely know as yet – as Barack Obama was in 2008.

    • Submitted by Paul John Martin on 09/19/2018 - 12:45 pm.

      P.S. I almost added “and the GOP need to nominate someone similar,” but up till now, any Republican who has dared to raise a voice against Trump and his policies of fear, division, and anti-science has had to accept that is the end of their career : Flake, Corker, Huntsman . . .

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/19/2018 - 07:06 pm.

      Exactly. I doubt Gillibrand is the right fit. I’m agnostic on Harris & Booker. Like you, I like Sanders & Warren’s message, but the Dems need a fresher voice. Biden, while I love the guy, needs to stay out of it.

      My ideal is the politics of Warren/Sanders, the ability to connect of Biden/WJC, the intellect of BHO & the passion of Wellstone.

      Is s/he out there? Maybe. But I’m not optimistic the dems have the sense to nominate them.

      • Submitted by Tory Koburn on 09/25/2018 - 10:40 am.

        Booker arguably has Warren-esque “fighting spirit”, but I think is even more closely aligned to the corporate and Wall Street wing than is Klobuchar. In this climate, he’s going to have to shift to the left as much as Gilibrand has, and I think after 2016, democratic primary voters won’t have much of an appetite for folks who have to bend over backwards in a nakedly transparent attempt to court the base. I think Warren and Harris have the best chances going forward. Ideally voters will select the person most capable of defeating Trump – which will inevitably involve discussions about courting working-class whites and Obama-Trump voters. I don’t think Booker is the candidate to do that; for a number of reasons he is quite a different candidate than Obama was.

        Would an all-woman ticket help or hurt the dems in 2020? That’s an interesting idea for an article going forward.

  9. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 09/24/2018 - 11:37 pm.

    Will just one “journalist” ask Senator Klobuchar if she intends to run for President in 2020? Don’t accept waffling, it is a yes or no answer. Minnesotans deserve to know if they are electing a full-time or part-time Senator.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 09/25/2018 - 11:05 am.

      Why? Even a part-time Amy is far better than a full-time Newberger. (I had to go to Google to remember who her opponent was!)

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/25/2018 - 09:18 am.

    Yes, Kobuchar is a centrist’s dream. That’s not what we need, and it’s certainly not what we need in the White House. Democrats will be facing a president who won’t possibly be able to win re-election and voters will be looking for a Democrat who will aggressively reverse disastrous and toxic policies. The new Democratic president will probably come into office with a Party that’s in complete control of Congress. So you want to put someone promises to “reach out” to Republicans on the ballot?

    Again, the issue here isn’t simply about having two Parties who trade power once and while. We have to have at least ONE Party that governs responsibly and actually gets things done instead of bravely defending the status quo, or moving us back towards an old status quo.

    Klobuchar is a fine Senator, let’s hang on her in that capacity.

  11. Submitted by Tory Koburn on 09/25/2018 - 10:30 am.

    I wonder how much of this may relate to Biden’s star falling in the context of the Kavanaugh debacle. He can apologize for what happened to Anita Hill and say his role in it was among the worst things he’s ever done in politics, but I don’t think that will be enough. As he falls from favor, others will rise.

    On Klobuchar, as others have suggested she is likely too milquetoast to win a primary. I don’t think it’s so much her lack of accomplishments (I can’t actually recall anything any senator has accomplished in the last 10 years that would be something they could unequivocally run on – especially dems, who have largely not had much power in the senate in that time). With Harris, you have the same strong legal background but a much more charismatic personality. Even as a Minnesotan that supports Klobuchar, I can’t readily think of any major issues that she’s really tried to tackle or cares about.

    VP? Maybe. I think she’s more at home in the Senate.

Leave a Reply