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Vox on 2020: ‘Buy Klobuchar; sell Gillibrand’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is less famous nationally than many other presidential bid eye-ers, but she got a nice mention this week from the handicappers at Vox.com.

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 Vox.com.

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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.”