Democrats, Looking Ahead to 2020, See a Future That Is Female

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.

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We’re going to talk about 2020 again. I know, I know. Voters haven’t even cast midterm ballots yet. But I promise it’s relevant.

As Gretchen Whitmer, candidate for governor in Michigan, told me last week: “2018 sets the table for 2020.”

That’s the overriding theme of my story today with Alex Burns — my first in the dead tree edition of The New York Times. (Feel free to send balloons!)

We talked to a whole bunch of Democratic women — everyone from voters to activists to politicians — and found that they believe the influence female voters have on the direction of the party will continue into 2020. Privately, some told us that a Democratic presidential ticket that doesn’t feature a woman would be a major tactical mistake.

[Read the story here: In 2020, Democrats Expect a Female Front-Runner. Or Three.]

A trio of female senators — Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren — aren’t waiting for the midterms to pass. All three made presidential moves this week, with Ms. Warren releasing her DNA test, Ms. Gillibrand campaigning in New Hampshire and Ms. Harris stumping in South Carolina.

“Female leaders work harder, work together more often, and support each other. That’s the kind of leadership we need to fix our broken political system in 2018 and beyond,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a more moderate Midwesterner whose name is occasionally mentioned as a potential presidential candidate.

Of course, if female candidates don’t do as well as expected this year, it could strengthen the hand of those in the party who fear the fierce and deeply personal attacks a woman nominee would likely face from President Trump.

The results of the midterms will chart a course for 2020 in other ways, too. Alex has written previously of the two broad paths forward the party could find coming out of the midterms.

There’s the Midwestern route, featuring well-known white politicians who are slightly left of center, like Richard Cordray in Ohio and Ms. Whitmer in Michigan. (Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet said he’s running, would also fall into this group.)

And then there’s the Sun Belt route, featuring more liberal, diverse candidates like Andrew Gillum in Florida, David Garcia in Arizona and Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Mr. Garcia and Ms. Abrams see an opportunity to flip demographically shifting Republican states into swing states.

If one group does better on Election Day, it’s certain to impact Democratic thinking about their platform, candidates and places they could potentially play.

Whatever the lessons, it’s clear we won’t be waiting very long to find out. The latest rumors Alex and I are hearing are that Democratic candidates could start formally announcing after the New Year.

Happy Holidays?

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One of the best newsletters at The Times is Race/Related, a weekly email about race, identity and culture. We wanted to highlight it here, so we asked Lauretta Charlton, the editor of Race/Related, to tell us about a story she’s been following this election season. Here’s what she sent us:

Breakout stories this year have included the record number of women running for office and voter enthusiasm among college-educated white women. But for me, perhaps the most compelling narrative has been the impressive number of minority candidates on ballots across America.

One of them is Lupe Valdez, the Democratic nominee for governor in Texas. She is the first openly gay woman, and first Latina, to be nominated by a major party for the top post in the state.

I interviewed her recently. She had a small cold, but was in good spirits despite the formidable challenge ahead of her. Her opponent, the incumbent Greg Abbott, a Republican, has raised millions of dollars. In July, Ms. Valdez, a former Dallas County sheriff, was under $300,000, most of it coming from small, individual donations. According to the Cook Political Report, the Texas governor’s race is solidly red. But Ms. Valdez was unfazed.

“We’re not a red state,” she told me. “We are a nonvoting state. If the people vote, we win. The problem is, we’re not voting.”

She’s right. Many Americans are choosing not to vote, and more than ever, voter turnout is correlated with class and education.

Ms. Valdez is from a family of migrant workers and was raised in one of the poorest ZIP codes in San Antonio. “I had to leave my job,” Ms. Valdez pointed out, half joking. But when black and Hispanic families already have considerably less wealth than whites, quitting your job to run for office is actually a pretty big deal.

Learn more about the Race/Related newsletter here.

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As the election nears, The Times’s live polling project is talking to voters in some of the closest races. Today, Nate Cohn and the Upshot team highlighted a few polls happening right now:

We started polling California’s 39th. It has the largest share of Asian-Americans (31 percent) of any battleground district, and they were a big part of why the district swung so strongly to Hillary Clinton in 2016. But the G.O.P. candidate here, Young Kim, a Korean immigrant, could have enough appeal with Asian-Americans to help Republicans keep the seat in a very diverse district.

West Virginia’s Third District has the lowest number of college graduates of any competitive House race. Richard Ojeda, a charismatic pro-coal, pro-gun-rights Democrat and a veteran, is trailing by five points in our poll. That’s an improvement over his eight-point deficit in our poll last month. President Trump won the district by almost 50 points, and it’s pretty astonishing for a Democrat to be so competitive here. I wouldn’t rule out an Ojeda win.

You can see all our polling here.

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There’s no better vehicle for vacation envy than your Instagram feed. The travel industry is on a mission to turn those likes into sales. Read that story.

After three years of bad storms, farmers in Georgia are slowly beginning to consider the threat that climate change could pose to their way of life. Read more here.

A fascinating look at Heidi Cruz, the breadwinner wife of Ted Cruz. Read it in The Atlantic.

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Today:

A debate in the Massachusetts Senate race, 8 p.m. Watch live on C-Span.

President Trump is holding a rally in Mesa, Ariz., at 7 p.m.

Saturday:

Early voting begins in New Mexico.

President Trump is holding a rally in Elko, Nev., at 11 a.m.

Sunday:

Debate in the Iowa governor’s race, 8 a.m. Watch it here.

Another debate in the Massachusetts Senate race, 7 p.m. Watch live on C-Span.

(All times listed are local.)

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Can you guess who said this to CNN today?

“Listen, here’s my recommendation. Grab your family, grab your friends, grab your neighbors, and get to the poll, because if not, you are going to have another two or another six years of this craziness.”

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… It was Michael Cohen. Yes, that Michael Cohen.

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Isabella Grullón Paz and Margaret Kramer contributed to this newsletter.

Thanks for reading. Politics is more than what goes on inside the White House. On Politics brings you the people, issues and ideas reshaping our world.

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