Biden, Clinton and the Medicare-Eligible Primary That Could Be


"Despite my having taken a vow of silence on '16 -- it is way way way way way too earlier for this stuff -- here's a general take," he wrote in an email. "Candidates like to define elections as the past versus the future, and they are the future.  But I always thought Ronald Reagan's age was a HELP, because it linked him to a BETTER past -- no one was happy about the present in 1980 -- and Reagan's buoyancy and optimism also made him a 'future' guy." … The question for '16 could be: if folks are happy with how things are, Clinton or Biden may have a good 'experience' argument. If folks are unhappy, their age(s) underscore the 'past' problem. "

Republicans have their demographic issues -- just look at the results from the November 2012 election -- but finding young talent isn't one of them. Their vice presidential candidate was the first politician on a national ticket born after the moon landing. They've got two very young and dynamic Hispanic senators. Democrats only have one. Republicans have two young Hispanic governors. Democrats don't have any.

Obama's Democratic coalition relied heavily on turning out minority voters. The historic nature of becoming the first black president and squaring off against two much older white men can't have hurt his ability to excite minorities.

But what if the choice for voters is Marco Rubio or Joe Biden? Would that change turnout?

The overriding narrative coming out of the 2012 election was that Republicans had turned their backs on Latinos by supporting conservative immigration policies. But -- and we're heading into hypothetical land here -- if Marco Rubio can help engineer some sort of immigration compromise, that narrative could change very quickly. He might have a more difficult time in some Republican primaries, but he would be a much stronger general election candidate.

None of this is to say that Democrats don't have exciting new blood in their stream that includes many women and minorities and younger politicians, some of whom will certainly eye a run in 2016. But there is no doubt they have a more established establishment.

Age is not a cause of concern for many Democrats quite yet.

"I don't think Democrats are suffering from a lack of next-generation leaders," said Simon Rosenberg, who is President of the NDN, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. "They just have a lot of good older leaders, too."

Rosenberg pointed to politicians like Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor; Cory Booker, the Newark, N.J., mayor; and Gavin Newsom, the California lieutenant governor, as part of the younger generation of Democrats.

And he said there are problems for a lot of younger politicians, too.

"They could be young, but they also have to be good," he said, arguing that Paul Ryan didn't draw any young people to the Romney ticket. And he argued that Democrats' party position on health care, immigration reform and financial issues will help them keep Latino votes.

It will ultimately be policy positions that solidify the coalition of voters that twice elected Obama, he said.

"The Obama coalition that has been built, to me, is a durable coalition that will be able to be transferred to the next nominee," he said, "as long as they know what they're doing."

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