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Reflections on an Anything but Normal 2020

By Bill Woods

Government and politics in this country has been anything but normal in 2020. The year began with the impeachment of the President followed by his acquittal in the Senate. At the same time, a diverse group of candidates representing a variety of views campaigned for the Democratic nomination for President. Four women, two African Americans, a Hispanic American, an Asian American, an avowed Socialist, a billionaire, and an openly Gay candidate were part of this mix. Finally, the arrival of the Coronavirus began to dominate public life and to disrupt the economy.

When this Issue of StreetVibes hits the street, Cincinnati and Ohio residents will have voted in the primary for Presidential, Congressional, state, and local candidates and issues such as the transit levy. [Edit: The primary has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic] Meanwhile, during the last two weeks the number of viable Democratic candidates shrank to two white men in their seventies. Furthermore, results from Super Tuesday and the March 10th primaries give former Vice President Biden a big delegate lead over Senator Bernie Sanders.

What caused this sudden voter shift to Biden, after Sanders showed such initial strength in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada? Although it is too early to be conclusive, voting patterns from the Super Tuesday primaries show certain trends. Starting with the South Carolina primary, Biden has won a large percentage of the African-American vote. Black voters in the South, East, Midwest, and West provided the former Vice President with overwhelming support.

Bernie Sanders does have support from some young African-American voters who back his progressive policies to reduce growing income inequality and other economic inequities, and he recently received the endorsement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. However, the groundswell of Black votes for Biden seems to stem from a deeper confidence in him because Barack Obama picked him to be his Vice President for two terms. Biden also connects well with African-American audiences, and he has a long Senate record of promoting Civil Rights legislation.

The other voting trend worth noting is Biden's large percentages in the suburbs. Election analysts find that suburban women comprised a significant bloc of voters that voted for the former Vice President. This trend began in 2018 when the Democrats flipped some Congressional seats in suburban districts.

Finding a candidate with the best chance of beating Trump appears to be the major reason for this sudden shift of Democratic voters to Joe Biden. Data from the primaries show this factor to be true among the various Democratic constituencies. In some local interviews by this reporter, this reason rings true. Even a number of people who advocate greater policy measures than Biden in terms of health care and closing the income inequality gap believe that defeating the current President is so critical for preserving democracy and public values that they plan to vote for the former Vice President in the Ohio primary.

In conclusion, a few reflections on the local political scene are in order. Issue 7, the transit levy, appears to be picking up support in Cincinnati, and a large Democratic primary turnout may carry it to victory even if many suburban County residents oppose it. Further, it is also worth noting the number of impressive women candidates running in our local primary.

Charmaine McGuffey, the endorsed Democratic candidate for Hamilton County Sheriff, comes across as a caring and brainy contender who wants to implement some needed and innovative policies. Meanwhile, Kelli Prather and former State Representatives Alicia Reece and Connie Pillich, candidates for Hamilton County Commissioner, revealed their credentials and platforms at a recent Community Issues Forum. At the same Forum, Kate Schroder and Nikki Foster showed how they would be able replacements for Congressman Steve Chabot in the First Congressional District. Finally, Cincinnatians await further impacts from the Coronavirus!

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