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Mike Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk problem, explained
Mike Bloomberg waits to speak to a group of Baptist ministers in Houston, Texas, on January 29, 2020. | Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images Bloomberg was synonymous with stop and frisk. Now he’s trying to run away from it. One of the first things Mike Bloomberg did as he prepared to run for president last year was apologize. Even before announcing his run, Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, was under fire for his embrace of stop and frisk, a policing strategy that disproportionately targeted minority communities and was later deemed unconstitutional. “I was wrong,” he said in November. “And I am sorry.” That didn’t put the issue to rest. Earlier this month, a 2015 video resurfaced in which Bloomberg defended stop and frisk in racist terms. In the video, he claimed “95 percent of murders, murderers, and murder victims” were “male minorities 16 to 25” and that one could “take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all cops.” He later added, “We put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you get guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.” Tony Savino/Corbis via Getty Images Tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in a silent march to protest NYPD racial profiling, including the stop-and-frisk program, which disproportionally targets young men of color, on June 17, 2012. Bloomberg has since reiterated his apology on the campaign trail and debate stage. “There is one aspect of approach that I deeply regret, the abuse of police practice called stop and frisk,” he said this month. “I defended it, looking back, for too long because I didn’t understand then the unintended pain it was causing to young black and brown families and their kids. I should have acted sooner and faster to stop it. I didn’t, and for that, I apologize.” Bloomberg’s policing strategy deployed officers to stop and frisk people, particularly in minority communities. The majority of people stopped — 80-plus percent — were people of color, typically young black or Latin men. The stops could be violent, with cops throwing kids against walls or the ground while shouting and cursing at them. Based on the research and New York City’s continued drop in crime after a significant reduction of stop and frisk, the approach did little to nothing to combat crime. “Stop and frisk was this low-intensity warfare that people didn’t see unless they were right in it — unless you lived in those few blocks where people were constantly harassed,” Monifa Bandele, who’s on the steering committee for Communities United for Police Reform, told me. “Stop and frisk was killing our young people in a different kind of way — very deeply emotional, mental health, causing people to lose jobs, to be late to school. I called it the death by a thousand cuts.” Stop and frisk was part of a much broader “broken windows” approach to policing, first adopted by Bloomberg’s predecessor, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg continued and expanded Giuliani’s policies, not just through the greater use of stop and frisk but by emphasizing misdemeanor arrests, citing people for low-level offenses like jaywalking and open containers, and deploying more cops in schools, leading to more arrests particularly among students of color. He also reformed some parts of the criminal justice system. Under his watch, the Rikers Island jail population continued to fall. His administration also oversaw probation reforms, and worked to end the incarceration of youth in state prison facilities, instead moving them closer to home or opting not to lock them up at all. The mixed record speaks both to Bloomberg’s unorthodox tendencies — he ran for mayor as a Republican, then independent, and now is a registered Democrat — and to a management style in which he delegated tasks to a wide, diverse cast of people under him. And it reflects the rapid shifts in the criminal justice reform landscape, which began while he was in office and has led to many Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris, facing criticism in the past year for their “tough on crime” pasts. Bloomberg’s campaign said that he reduced stop and frisk as mayor — although he only did that once legal challenges against stop and frisk seemed likely to win, and he continued defending stop and frisk even after he left office. The campaign also pointed to the criminal justice reforms he implemented as mayor, arguing “his long and impressive track record demonstrates his commitment to this issue.” But his support and expansion of stop and frisk is a key part of his legacy — and puts him at odds with much of the modern Democratic Party in the era of Black Lives Matter. Whether and how he is able to overcome that legacy could define his path to the White House. Stop and frisk was at the core of Bloomberg’s policing approach When Bloomberg took office in 2002, crime remained one of the top concerns in New York City. It hadn’t been too long since the city in 1990 hit its peak for murders — with more than 2,000 in the city — and New Yorkers were fed up. So Bloomberg embraced the “broken windows” philosophy — which argued that by policing even the lowest-level offenses, police could deter and stop all kinds of crime. Bloomberg, along with his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, massively expanded stop and frisk especially: In 2002, there were more than 97,000 reported stops. By 2011, that grew to nearly 686,000. “As a New Yorker, I understood the visceral concern about crime. It was driving everything,” Vincent Schiraldi, who was the probation commissioner under Bloomberg from 2010 to 2014, told me. “One, he was super concerned about shootings and killings. And two, he really believed stop and frisk was an important component of reducing that. He definitely believed that stuff. No question. We used to argue about it.” Spencer Platt/Getty Images People walk past a police car in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 18, 2019. Brownsville saw some of the highest numbers of stop-and-frisk incidents, These stops were highly concentrated in minority communities: In 2011, for example, 53 percent of people stopped were black, and 34 percent were Latin, even though black and Latin people made up around 23 and 29 percent of the population, respectively. About 88 percent of the stops were of people that the New York Civil Liberties Union classified as innocent — meaning they led to no citations, summonses, arrests, or other police actions. “Even if it’s just one stop, if you’re being stopped because you’re black, whether you were thrown up against the wall or spoken to politely, it’s traumatizing,” Bandele said, describing how black students at her daughter’s high school could be stopped, separated from the white peers they were walking with, and questioned on their way to class. “There’s a harm to racial profiling no matter how it’s done.” These weren’t just police pat-downs. As Bloomberg implied in his comments about throwing kids against walls, police were often very aggressive. A common story was that cops would jump out of cars, round up entire groups of black and brown kids, curse at them, throw them against the wall or ground, and thoroughly frisk them — going under their clothes at times. One teenager, identified only as Alvin, recorded one of the stops against him. The police were aggressive, never explained why they stopped him, and used racist language. When Alvin asked why he was being threatened with arrest, one officer said, “For being a fucking mutt.” Holding Alvin’s arm behind his back, a cop said, “Dude, I’m gonna break your fuckin’ arm, then I’m gonna punch you in the fuckin’ face.” These kinds of stops happened hundreds of times a day, particularly in black and brown neighborhoods. “‘Broken windows’ policing is a Giuliani-era approach to policing which has no consideration for any of the norms of justice and really demonizes and terrorizes communities of color,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, told me. “I believe it’s either a corollary to or a product of — it doesn’t matter which — the war on drugs, which was set out as a war on people of color by the Nixon administration.” Bloomberg characterized the policing of minority communities as necessary in the 2015 video, suggesting police only went to where the crime was. But that wasn’t true: Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor and criminal justice researcher at Columbia University, found that higher minority populations in a community “predict higher numbers of stops, controlling for the local crime rate and the social and economic characteristics of the precinct.” In other words, it was the demographic makeup of the neighborhood — not the rates of crime — that appeared to drive the stops. The approach also didn’t appear to reduce crime much, if at all; studies found stop and frisk had weak to no effects, and crime in New York continued to drop after the police greatly reduced the use of the policy, beginning in 2012. Bloomberg was still in office when stop and frisk was reduced in use. But the drop in stops was mainly in response to mounting legal challenges and a subsequent court ruling, which found stop and frisk, as implemented in New York City, was unconstitutional. In his last year as mayor, Bloomberg resisted the court ruling and the City Council’s attempts to reel back stop and frisk. And he defended stop and frisk after he left office in 2014, as evidenced by the recently resurfaced video from 2015. Stop and frisk is one part of Bloomberg’s record Stop and frisk was only one component of the broader “broken windows” approach. Under Bloomberg, police also went after lower-level offenses, including marijuana possession. The approach even extended to policing in schools, where kids were more likely to be cited and arrested under Bloomberg. There were racial disparities in these other actions too: Between October and December 2011, 94 percent of students arrested were black or Latin. Some of these policies have remained in place even after Bloomberg. Despite pulling back, for example, stop and frisk as well as marijuana arrests, the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, has continued to embrace some “broken windows” tactics — which critics say led to the death of Eric Garner when police stopped him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes and put him in a chokehold. “What replaced [stop and frisk] was the kind of thing that got Garner killed,” Fagan told me. “The police were making tens of thousands of misdemeanor arrests on ‘broken windows’ stuff — turnstile jumping, selling loose cigarettes, tens of thousands of arrests on the lowest-level misdemeanor charges — plus issuing citations for things like jaywalking, open containers, and the like.” Separately, Bloomberg’s police department also conducted a wide-ranging surveillance program on Muslim communities — which, while not usually considered part of a “tough on crime” agenda, demonstrated his willingness to aggressively police minority communities. Timothy Clary/AFP via Getty Images Demonstrators hold placards calling for police reform outside One Police Plaza in New York on June 18, 2013. The punitive approaches fostered more distrust in police, particularly in communities of color. That could have led to more crime — if, as some research suggests, people took matters of the law into their own hands when they didn’t trust the police — or, at the very least, likely made cops’ jobs harder. “The police rely on cooperation from the people that they’re supposed to protect in order to do their job,” Lieberman said. “When you lose that trust, people won’t talk to you. That’s a well-known phenomenon.” Still, it’s true that crime continued to fall in New York City during Bloomberg’s tenure. The number of murders in New York City fell from nearly 600 in 2002 to less than 340 in 2014, the year after Bloomberg’s final term ended. That was a continued drop from the early 1990s, when murders hit more than 2,000 in the city. What caused that massive drop? Fagan pointed to the city’s larger police force, arguing that the presence of more cops — though not necessarily their tactics — deterred some crime. The generation that grew up under the violent 1970s and ’80s also aged out of crime, and the new generations have been, for whatever reason, less predisposed to crime and violence. And the end of the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s was a big contributor as well. (More broadly, crime and murder rates have plummeted across the country since the 1990s, and criminal justice experts point to all sorts of factors besides police for the nationwide crime decline.) Bloomberg also implemented some criminal justice reforms. He embraced programs that diverted people, particularly those accused of low-level offenses, away from jail and prison. That helped continue the fall in the Rikers Island jail population; by 2014, the jail population dropped by half, to 11,000, from its 1991 peak. Under Schiraldi, Bloomberg’s Department of Probation also took steps to make probation less punitive — by penalizing fewer people for technical violations and by reducing probation terms. And Bloomberg helped put an end to the practice of locking up juveniles in state facilities, using the Close to Home program to move them, well, closer to home in New York City, if they were locked up at all. The seeming contradiction between some criminal justice reforms and a “tough on crime” approach elsewhere may reflect Bloomberg’s management style. He tended to delegate major roles to his commissioners and other staffers, rarely micromanaging or getting involved on a daily basis outside some demands for data and evidence to support a new approach. As Schiraldi, who served under Bloomberg, put it, “He truly believed his people.” Whatever the explanation, the result is at best a mixed record on criminal justice issues and at worst a collection of policies overwhelmed by a policing approach that terrorized people of color in New York City for more than a decade, all under Bloomberg. The question for criminal justice reformers: Can they trust Bloomberg? As he’s scaled up his presidential campaign, Bloomberg has apologized for stop and frisk, while putting out criminal justice reform plans that attempt to show he’s serious about reform. Many of the reforms are very ambitious. He proposes setting up a hub in the Department of Justice that will evaluate and fund state-level reforms to cut incarceration by 50 percent by 2030. He calls for $2.5 billion over 10 years to boost public defense. He suggests ending cash bail. He wants to expand reentry services for formerly incarcerated people, including housing, mental health, and addiction treatment, and help kids whose parents are in prison. In apologizing for stop and frisk, Bloomberg has cited his criminal justice reform proposals as evidence he’s trying to do better. “Let me make it clear, as president of the United States, I will work to dismantle systems that are plagued by bias and discrimination,” he said. “I will invest in the communities that [bore] the brunt of those systems for generations. And I’ll put this work at the very top of our agenda.” Still, his proposals also expose some of his moderate roots. For one, Bloomberg only backs the decriminalization of marijuana, falling short of full legalization — a stance he explained by saying there’s a need for more research into cannabis. That puts him at odds with other Democratic candidates except Biden; the party has broadly shifted to backing legalization, and polls show more than 75 percent of Democrats support legalizing pot. For criminal justice reformers, the question is if they can really trust Bloomberg. Can they believe that he’s come around to reform, after supporting a policy — stop and frisk — that helped lead to the rise of Black Lives Matter to begin with? And what message would his election send about reform efforts? Spencer Platt/Getty Images People participate in a protest in Staten Island to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner after federal prosecutors announced they will not charge former New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for Garner’s death on July 17, 2019. “I’m very concerned,” Bandele said. “By electing him, it almost takes those policies off the hook.” The concern here isn’t just figuring out if Bloomberg is an honest person. A constant worry in criminal justice work is what would happen if the crime rate started to rise once again. In such a scenario, there would be considerably more pressure on lawmakers to go back to “tough on crime” rhetoric and policies — even if they are racist and, based on the research, ineffective for fighting crime in the first place. It’s happened before. From the 1960s through the ’90s, crime and drug use were skyrocketing in the US. Especially in the early 1990s, Americans were much more likely to say that crime was the most important problem facing the country at the time. That drove lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, to try to find solutions that they could sell to the public — and they by and large landed on a more punitive criminal justice system. Just how much all of this hurts Bloomberg remains to be seen. Various polls, including one from Vox and Morning Consult, have found the majority of Democrats support at least some criminal justice reform efforts. But other surveys, like Gallup’s, have also found that criminal justice issues aren’t too important for voters, falling behind concerns about the government and poor leadership, immigration, the economy, health care, and race relations. But stop and frisk is a big enough part of Bloomberg’s legacy that he, at least, has already repeatedly apologized for it.
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Amy Klobuchar can win where Democrats need to win in 2020
Amanda Northrop/Vox The sixth in a Vox series making the best case for each of the top Democratic contenders. Vox writers are making the best case for the leading Democratic candidates — defined as those polling above 10 percent in national averages. But after her strong finish in the New Hampshire primary, Amy Klobuchar established herself in the top tier of candidates. This article is the sixth in the series. Our case for Bernie Sanders is here; our case for Elizabeth Warren is here;ourcase for Joe Biden is here; our case for Pete Buttigieg is here;ourcase for Mike Bloomberg is here. Vox does not endorse individual candidates. The case for Sen. Amy Klobuchar comes down to three words: the Electoral College. Any Democrat up against President Donald Trump this fall won’t be able to count on winning the most votes to take the White House — the nominee will have to beat the convoluted map that heavily favors rural areas,and thus Republicans. Hillary Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes than Trump in 2016, but her losses in Rust Belt states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania arguably cost her the Electoral College. Whoever runs against Trump will want to put these once-blue states back in the Democratic column, and they’ll have to win over rural voters to do it. Klobuchar, from Minnesota, has the most convincing record on this score. In Minnesota she’s not only won statewide three times (besting her Republican opponents by double digits), she’s also consistently won by wider margins than other Democrats. Clinton won Minnesota by 1.5 percentage points in 2016. Two years later, Klobuchar won statewide by 24 points. Yes, it was a good year for Democrats, but as Vox’s Matthew Yglesias wrote, she outperformed every other Democrat running statewide that year — by a lot. And, crucially, in 2018 she won 42 counties that Trump carried in 2016, including 39 in rural areas. “What I have done is win. I’ve won districts Trump carried by 20 points. I have won every race, every place, every time. And I’ll do it again in 2020,” Klobuchar tweeted this fall. The secret to Klobuchar’s success seems to be that a lot of rural voters like her brand of moderate politics, pragmatism, and openness to compromise. Take my hometown, which is located in Pennington County, Minnesota, a rural, farm-based community home to a computer parts distribution company and Arctic Cat snowmobiles: Hillary Clinton lost it in 2016 by 27.6 points. Two years later, Klobuchar won it by 0.02 percent. That’s a razor-thin margin but a hell of a swing, and it’s a win in an extremely Trump-friendly area. “If you look at 2016, the same trends that were happening in Wisconsin and Michigan were happening in Minnesota,” said Jeff Blodgett, a longtime Minnesota Democratic operative who worked on Klobuchar’s first reelection campaign in 2006 and serves as an informal adviser to her campaign. Trump made it “just over the line” in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, but fell short in Minnesota. “In spite of that, Amy has continued to overperform. She’s the most popular politician in Minnesota by far,” Blodgett added. “She’s able to appeal broadly to the electorate. She’s been able to build a strong base vote, and able to win a state like Wisconsin.” Klobuchar is considered a moderate, but she should still appeal to voters on the further left of the Democratic Party. She’s one of the 15 most progressive members of the US Senate per FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of Congress members’ voting records, for example. The biggest problem for her might be name recognition. But as voters get to know her, even Democrats outside of Minnesota, they like her. She rose in the polls after a strong debate performance in New Hampshire. Klobuchar has a strong record of running and winning. Her brand of electoral politics — coming for people in the middle and winning in local areas where Democrats haven’t been winning lately — is a lot more sustainable for Democrats than betting on record levels of voter turnout year after year to win. Alex Wong/Getty Images Sen. Amy Klobuchar participates in town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 13, 2020. The case for Klobuchar is about looking at what worked for Democrats in 2018 One big story of the 2018 election was the emergence of a dynamic “squad” of diverse women who won safe Democratic seats. It’s an important narrative in the Democratic Party, one that carries implications for the party. Less publicized, but perhaps more immediately significant, was the story of moderate women who won in a lot of congressional districts that Trump won in 2016 — flipping the balance of power in the House.Think of Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, New Jersey’s Mikie Sherrill, and Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin. It’s no longer news to say that Democrats gained the most among college-educated white voters in 2018, a group that went from leaning slightly Republican to leaning slightly Democratic. But a problem for Democrats is that they may well be at the height of their ability to activate voters who rarely vote, according to a Catalyst analysis of 2018: 2018 turnout reached 51% of the citizen voting-age population, 14 points higher than 2014. 2016 turnout was 61%. If enthusiasm continues, how high can it get? It is unreasonable to expect a 14 point boost up to 75%, but is 70% reasonable? Here we show that turnout could easily reach 155 to 160 million votes, due to a boost in the turnout rate and the steadily increasing population size, which could reach around 240 million people in 2020. That means that Democrats may have no choice but to turn to voter persuasion in the “turnout versus persuasion” debate laid out so artfully in this explainer. The candidates who performed best with voters in the middle in 2018 look a lot like Klobuchar — running as competent, moderate women candidates who lead with their record and ability to get things done. It’s worth taking a look at the CNN exit poll from 2018 in Minnesota and seeing how she performed with groups where Democrats have been struggling lately. Klobuchar won 52 percent of all white men and 56 percent of non-college-educated voters. She lost white non-college-educated men, but she still got 45 percent of them to vote for her. Stanching those losses can go a long way toward building a sustainable party in the long term. All this didn’t happen by accident. Blodgett told me she spent the first six months of her reelection campaign in 2006 traveling mostly to rural areas to build up her profile there. “She’s one of the hardest-working elected officials I’ve ever encountered,” he said. Klobuchar does not seem like the kind of candidate to take electorally important areas for granted. In the crowded primary field, moderate voters are currently split among several candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Klobuchar has a few advantages among these moderate choices. Voters have openly expressed skepticism about a candidate over 70, which applies to both Biden and Bloomberg, and she certainly has a lot more experience than Buttigieg, with whom she appears to be splitting a similar cadre of voters. Charles Krupa/AP Reporters watch the broadcast of the Democratic presidential primary debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, on February 7, 2020. National head-to-head polling finds every major Democrat leading Trump. Klobuchar’s real case comes in in key states like Michigan, where she polled ahead of Trump by 6 points last year. In her home state, which Clinton won narrowly, she beats him by 17 points. Unfortunately, the potential general election appeal of such a candidate doesn’t seem to be something many Democrats are thinking about in the primary. “When it comes to electability, there is an important regional consideration in the Upper Midwest,” Blodgett told me. Amy Klobuchar is still a very progressive candidate It’s in some ways a sign of how far left the Democratic Party has moved that Klobuchar is considered a moderate candidate. She’s still one of the 15 most progressive members of the US Senate. She supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage, universal pre-K for low-income families, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a public option, and expanding community college access for low-income individuals. She’s also open to some structural reforms, like automatic voter registration, as well as DC and Puerto Rico statehood. She’s also, notably, been at the forefront of trying to do something about democracy’s Facebook problem, even if it isn’t quite as sweeping as breaking up the social media platform. She’s also supportive of some of the most progressive abortion rights ideas Democrats have floated, and in general approaches public policy through the lens of being a woman. Finally, she’s given a lot of thought to the limitations of presidential power and has a carefully plotted first 100 days plan that focuses on executive action, which tackles everything from prescription drug prices to bolstering protections for victims of domestic violence to strengthening environmental regulations. Preston Ehrler/Barcroft Media via Getty Images Amy Klobuchar came in third behind Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, beating onetime frontrunners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, in the New Hampshire primaries. Preston Ehrler/Barcroft Media via Getty Images Klobuchar delivered a strong performance during the televised debate leading up to the New Hampshire primaries, pledging to Americans: “If you have trouble stretching your paycheck to pay for that rent, I know you. I will fight for you.” She is, of course, big on compromise — something that she prides herself on and that is a key part of her appeal to voters in Minnesota. It’s also what may make her anathema to the most progressive voters out there, who want a candidate who will push for big ideas like Medicare-for-all. It’s understandable that voters are looking for big ideas after years of being in the wilderness, but Klobuchar approaches the conversation through the cool eyes of realism. “I keep listening to this same debate, and it is not real,” she said at the New Hampshire debate in early February. “It is not real, Bernie, because two-thirds of the Democrats in the Senate are not on your bill and because it would kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years.” Klobuchar knows what some Sanders allies are beginning to admit — that a complete overhaul of the US health care system is politically untenable. The best and most realistic way to expand health insurance and bring down costs is to offer a public option. It’s not exciting, but it is reality. No candidate is perfect There’s no unassailable candidate, and Klobuchar is no exception. From a nuts-and-bolts perspective, she has a big problem: name recognition. She came in third place in New Hampshire, but nationally she comes in sixth place in Morning Consult’s name recognition tracker. The good news for her: When people do know her, they like her — as was the case after her New Hampshire debate performance. Substantively, Klobuchar has been dogged by complaints by former staffers who say she is a bad boss. As soon as she began preparing to announce her candidacy last February, stories reported by HuffPost, BuzzFeed, Yahoo, and the New York Times asserted — all off the record — that Klobuchar was at best a demanding boss and at worst a verbally abusive one. It’s almost impossible to get a full reading on this without knowing more details on the record, but Vox’s Laura McGann wrote about how the specific allegations against her reek of double standards. After all, when you look at the list of 10 “worst bosses” in the Senate that Klobuchar made at the time, six of them were women. This is certainly a liability, whatever you think of the specific allegations. There’s no doubt conservatives have been itching to use the Me Too movement against Democrats, and those off-the-record comments could quickly become individuals with names and faces whose allegations come back to haunt Klobuchar. Preston Ehrler/Barcroft Media via Getty Images Sen. Amy Klobuchar celebrates with her supporters in Concord after a strong third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. But as much of a risk as that is, it’s simply not clear to me that the things the extremely online liberals complain about with Klobuchar actually matter much to voters. The New Republic’s Libby Watson called Klobuchar’s staff problem something elite media has a “blind spot” about. It’s worth reading her argument in full, but it seems like it has gotten extensive coverage in so-called elite media outlets — yet has been something many voters don’t care much about. When Vox’s Ella Nilsen spent weeks reporting on voters’ concerns in New Hampshire, they seemed far more interested in how Klobuchar would fare against Trump in a debate than what her ex-staffers might have to say. “She’s feisty, and we need someone to be feisty,” New Hampshire voter Susan Fine recently told Nilsen. More important, Cook Political Report editor David Wasserman argues, is that she has a poor track record with young voters and voters of color, key Democratic constituencies that could be a real problem for her as the primary turns to more diverse states. “Her problem is nonwhite Democrats,” Wasserman told me. “The other problem is young people. She has not been winning support among voters born after 1975.” Her awkward remark in Nevada about her “fourth-grade Spanish” name makes it glaringly obvious she’s from a predominantly white state. As the party becomes more reliant on voters of color, problems like her history as a prosecutor — an Associated Press investigation discovered she likely got an innocent man convicted, and she has a record of prosecuting Somali immigrants on drug charges — could make it difficult for her to gain credibility with these communities. It’s a problem that Sen. Kamala Harris, also a former prosecutor, faced. For all the benefits Klobuchar has as a general election candidate, winning the nomination requires a lot of voters of color to get on board, and it’s not clear she has the time or the name recognition to get them. Klobuchar has a pretty good case to make as a woman The big way Klobuchar can differentiate herself among the remaining candidates in the field is that she’s, yes, more moderate, but she’s also a woman. It’s something both she and Warren have deployed to their advantage during the debates. As my colleague Anna North wrote for Vox, this could be extremely effective against Trump: “treating debate as a literal dick-measuring contest doesn’t work when your opponent is a woman.” Klobuchar has also made competency part of her brand, and that’s no accident. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images Klobuchar announced her presidential bid during a snowstorm in Minneapolis on February 10, 2019. “Klobuchar is navigating the gender dynamics in a way that’s more consistent with what we’ve seen from candidates before,” said Kelly Dittmar at Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Politics. “She’s doing what strategists say she needs to do: lead with your record, qualifications, and ability to get things done.” A poll over the summer also showed Klobuchar could activate enthusiasm simply by running as a woman. An AP/NORC poll released last summer showed 73 percent of Democratic voters valued experience in a candidate and about half of Democratic women said they’d be excited to vote for a woman candidate. Klobuchar meets both criteria. Trump’s “strategy is always to emasculate everyone, women, or men,” Dittmar said. Having a woman next to him on the debate stage to draw that contrast “would be helpful for energizing a Democratic base, and maybe other women.” In the Washington Post, Sam Luks and Brian Schaffner looked at how sexism interplays with voter attitudes: [S]exist attitudes cost Republicans more votes than it gained them in the most recent midterm elections, as experiencing the first two years of Trump’s presidency pushed less sexist Americans toward the Democratic Party in 2018. So while sexism may be a hurdle for candidates ... as they compete for the Democratic Party’s nomination, it could help them win a general election campaign against Trump. The reality is that no matter which Democrat faces Trump will face a barrage of attacks. It’s simply a matter of picking your poison. For now, this is the best Trump has against Klobuchar: Well, it happened again. Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
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