The Economic Subdivisions within in the Democratic Party

Angelo D'Agostini

The 2020 presidential primary has revealed the ideological divide in the Democratic Party that could be detrimental to their general election victory. With his late-entry into an already packed Democratic field, Michael Bloomberg evoked a sequence of reactions from various other contenders. Almost initially after his announcement, two of the most popular democratic hopefuls, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, criticized the millionaire New Yorker’s candidacy with the assertion that “elections cannot be bought”. Although it is unlikely that the ex-Mayor of New York will win the Democratic primary, his entry has highlighted the contrast among the democratic candidates’ economic schemes.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are characterized as “far left” politicians for their progressive performance histories and campaign platforms. Specifically, each candidate has called for higher progressive tax rates on households and corporations, as well as a capital tax (wealth tax), in order to fund more government operated programs (such as free college education, a more expansive health care system and a green new deal) and reduce America’s wealth disparity. Based on polling, Sanders (16%) and Warren (14%) report combined support of 30% of Democratic voters. Their platforms are more or less the same with minor changes here and there, regardless, polling suggests is that their progressive ideas are popular among a large percentage of Democratic voters.

Joe Biden has been the Democratic front-runner since he announced his candidacy just before Christmas of last year. According to, Biden leads by +11% with a total of 27% support among all Democratic voters. He has an impressive track record as a politician, primarily because he served as vice president. Additionally, he has strong support among minority voters and a more neo-liberal platform that captures more moderate support among the American voter base. On his campaign website, Biden does not lay out a tax plan. However, there is speculation that he may reverse the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, leaving the lower tax brackets untouched and raising the top bracket from 35% back 39%; evidently, being much more moderate than the proposals by Sanders and Warren.

Historically, the economy is the largest vote influencer. So, the fact that the Democrats are demonstrating their division through more socialistic and critiqued capitalistic economic platforms exemplifies a lack of cohesion among the party. Such a lack of consensus could result in low voter turnout due to a disappointing misrepresentation on such an important platform topic: the economy and taxes. It is not incorrect to assume that if Sanders/Warren wins the primary election, moderate voters will be doubtful about the capability of the radical economic policies. The reverse scenario of a Biden nomination could be perceived by far-left populist voters as another presidential candidate focused on the promotion of elite interests, offering no change and empty promises. Either outcome could keep a democratic sub-group from voting, resulting in a higher change of a Trump re-election- who currently reports strong support characterized by a 90% approval rating among Republicans and a 38% approval rating among Independents (the highest it has been since he has assumed office).

Yet, the incumbent is unique, as is the 2020 presidential election. As can be observed since the mid-term elections, Democrats all over the United States are mobilizing with the hope of correcting their mistake form the 2016 presidential election. As we arrive closer to the Democratic National Convention, more primary candidates are due to drop out and endorse a message of unity within the party. It is quite possible that Democrats will set aside their ideological divisions in order to defeat Donald Trump.

Public Affairs e Comunicazione dell'Istituto per la Competitività (I-Com). Nata a Venezia nel 1986, lavora come istruttrice di vela durante gli anni del liceo e dell’università. Si laurea in giurisprudenza all’Università di Bologna con una tesi in diritto della navigazione.

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