NYT quiz on the primaries

January 24, 2020 • 3:30 pm

If you like quizzes, you might want to see this one at the New York Times, though it’s pretty lame. It’s not one that you can get graded on, but a series of 35 question (with clicks for the “reveals”), asking how much you know about the primaries, the caucuses, how and when you should vote, who’s ahead, and, at the end—where it gets really lame)—”Are we going to be o.k.?” and “When is this all over?”. Sure, maybe those are lighthearted questions, but they’re dumb. Click below if you want to inflict more politics on your beleaguered carcass:


Here’s question 11 with the reveal, though of course it’s way early in the election to prognosticate about winners:

At least it’s an interesting race, with a centrist in a narrow lead, followed by a socialist and then a progressive, with all the rest bunching up below 10%. When I took the “which candidate best aligns with your views?” survey last week, my top three, in decreasomg order, were Yang, Biden, and Bloomberg, making me a centrist, and my bottom three were (in decreasing order) Gabbard, Warren, and Sanders. Lately Biden and the Bern have been pulling ahead of Warren, but we’ll see what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In my view, we have to go for electability, and so, given the choice between Biden and Sanders, I’d prefer Biden, who, I think, has the best chance of exterminating the rats from the White House. That was also the view of Jim Messina, Obama’s former campaign manager and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, who said on MSNBC, as reported by MEDIAite:

Former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said that Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is “the worst candidate” Democrats could select to run against President Donald Trump.

Senator Sanders’ recent surge in some polls appears to be alarming some Democrats like Messina, who appeared on Thursday morning’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss a recent survey of young voters that shows Sanders with huge leads over his Democratic competitors and Trump.

Messina pointed out that young people are historically less likely to vote, but conceded that if millennial voters turn out in large numbers, “it will change the electoral math.”

But he argued that Sanders’ emphasis on programs like free college tuition is “a message I think is gonna get him killed” in the general election.

“I think he’s the worst candidate in a general election for exactly that reason,” Messina said.

“You think Bernie is the worst candidate?” co-host Willie Geist asked.

“I don’t think there’s a question about it,” Messina said, adding, “I think it is clear to me, with these swing voters I care about, the Trump — Obama voters in midwestern states, Bernie Sanders is not the candidate we need to beat Donald Trump in November.”

This, too, was the opinion of NYT op-ed writer David Brooks, who enumerates a number of Biden’s strengths in a piece today (click on screenshot):

I will of course be voting for the Democratic candidate for President, but my vote in the primaries is still up for grabs. The fact that makes the campaign interesting so far is that the most electable Democrat isn’t aways the one that most of us want to see as President. (Although my views align more with Biden than Warren, I would probably still prefer to see her in the Oval Office were I to have a magic wand.) But if Biden gets the nod, I sure hope he picks a more progressive vice-president, one like Stacey Abrams (or Warren, who won’t accept the second-tier slot). We need a Democrat in the White House badly, and one of the main reasons is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t going to live forever.

We have a long way to go, but it gives us something to argue about until November.

52 thoughts on “NYT quiz on the primaries

    1. It sure as hell won’t be two white dudes, as it was for every presidential ticket from 1788 to 1984, and as it’s been for 12 of the 16 tickets since then.

        1. Possible, though Pence’s nose is so far up Donald Trump’s ass it might take the jaws-of-life to pry him outta there to drop him from the ticket.

          Plus, I’m not sure Haley really wants that spot on the ticket. Sure, winning would leave her one 74-year-old’s heartbeat away from the US presidency. And even losing might make her the early front-runner for 2024. But doing the kind of dirty work Trump expects of his vice-presidential candidate (let alone of his actual VP) would likely taint her brand forever, and she knows it. Look at Mike Pence.

          1. It’s also why she got the hell outta her UN ambassadorship while she still had her dignity intact, and has kept Donald Trump as arm’s length since.

              1. Nikki Haley is a crafty and ambitious politician. She sees Donald Trump for what he is. That much was made plain in 2016 when, during the Republican presidential primaries, she first endorsed Marco Rubio and then even the loathsome Ted Cruz — anybody but Donald Trump.

                As such, Haley understands that, one way or another, the presidency of Donald Trump is doomed to end in ignominy, whether now or later. She sees herself as the person, perhaps the only person, who can hold the Republican Party together in a post-Trump world (and she may be right).

                To do so, she must navigate the narrow strait between the Scylla of Trumpism and the Charybdis of the GOP establishment (or what’s left of it anyway), which will bail on Trump eventually. That’s the course she’s endeavoring to set for herself now.

              2. Yes, Ken, although I disagree with Ms Haley on many points, she is a worthy person and would undoubtedly make an infinitely better president than the present incumbent. She would be a Republican president many could live with, I guess.

  1. I 1000% agree with Professor Ceiling Cat re: Vote Blue No Matter Who in November. I’ll be happy to vote for a trained porcupine if one happens to run as a Democrat against Agent Orange.

    David Brooks is a conservative – a thoughtful, interesting one, but a conservative nonetheless. I doubt he’s the best adviser to Democrats on which candidate we should pick.

    I’m frustrated by the “Joe Biden is electable” argument, because it seems like such a self-fulfilling prophecy: people support Biden because he seems electable; he seems electable because people support him. What if it all falls apart at some point? Hillary Clinton was supposed to be “safe” and “electable.” How did that turn out? (Needless to say, I will eagerly canvass and vote for Biden should he become the nominee; see my first paragraph above.)

  2. I’d say Sanders has the best shot against Trump. Trouble is, I think it may kill him, and I’m not too sure if he isn’t better pushing the conversation left than as the standing candidate.

    If he stands and loses, that brings back the centrist arguments, even if I don’t think their chances are as good.

    Biden is far too compromised – even on the current issue with the Ukraine, one can’t really get passed Hunter’s involvement.

    Biden lets Trump call too many criticisms a wash. I think he’s got the worst chance at beating Trump, but at the same time is also the one that costs the left least if he loses.

    Given the choice I’d go with Warren, due to her corruption busting credentials. She’s got a bit of a trust problem, but with the right VP can get around that.

    Buttigieg is a bit like Yang, in that I think he would make a better 2IC than a president right now.

    Bloomberg, should have entered the race when everyone else did. I think he left it too late, and thus is going to struggle to put across what he has that the other candidates don’t.

    Klobuchar I think isn’t an option. I can see why people like her, out of the centrists I give her a lot of credit for actually having policies and substance, but her chances died the day those stories about her treatment of staff surfaced. It is not what you want in a high tension position, and there aren’t many positions higher tension than US president.

    Yang I think would make an excellent VP for whoever won. He’s got youth, a unique hook that can appeal to people outside of the usual political divides, and just comes off a little unseasoned but still well.

    The rest of the field should probably just bow out now. They’re not going to get anywhere, and anything further is just wasting time and money.

    But my big take away here is this: Whoever wins will be fighting an uphill battle. Trump’s economy is good – at least up until you get to the nuance, but nuance normally doesn’t win elections. A lot of the stuff Trump is doing now, you’ll only see the consequences in the next four years or so.

    Whoever wins has to be able to make a very strong case, and it will not be enough to simply get rid of Trump, there is going to have to be a plan to stop another Trump coming along in a few years time.

    For years in South Africa, our official opposition has run each campaign by saying “Stop the ANC”. The ANC remains in power. If the Democratic Party does not got come up with something stronger, I could see the same results.

    This is going to be a tough election, good luck.

    1. I think your comparison with the ANC is not very apt.
      The ANC is still widely seen as the party that ended Apartheid by a large majority of the population, and has, despite it’s sleaze and corruption, wide support for that. Something that has no equivalent in the US.
      Moreover, I disagree that the opposition runs on the “Stop the ANC” ticket, although that is certainly part of it. The DA runs on stopping corruption and effecting good administration, the EFF runs on a hard-line socialist-type of ticket, etc. Many smaller parties just run around one person.

      1. You see, I don’t think the ANC is maintaining its support due to ending Apartheid. I think a lot of it is down to party loyalty – and a lack of a compelling alternative.

        The DA’s offer is really to do the basics. Its to not steal, and to do its job in a competent manner. Which reminds me of this famous Chris Rock skit:

        And other than the very basics it really is “Stop the ANC” that the DA runs on – you can see that with the infighting that hit with the fall of Zuma. Ramaphosa wasn’t seen as the same sort of threat, so there wasn’t the same unifying force keeping the DA together, and in the last election their share of the vote shrank.

        My worry with the Democrats in the US is without Trump – what is the rallying cry? There has to be something more, something everyone is striving for to keep everyone together.

          1. In this context that’s thoroughly irrelevant.

            The DA is generally perceived in South Africa as the “white party”. Its a cunning bit of identity politics pulled by the ANC, but because of that applying that video to the DA is getting at something quite apart from race.

            My point being that saying you’re going to not steal and basically just do your job – falls into a category that shouldn’t be an election promise, it should be an expected minimum, and thus comes off as quite underwhelming as a result.

  3. Joe Biden is evidently the candidate whom
    Trump and his advisers consider the greatest threat. They didn’t spend months trying to extort foreign governments into announcing investigation of Sanders, or Warren, or Buttigieg. We ought to take seriously their assessment of their potential opponents, revealed so clearly in this way.

    1. Two things:
      1) It’s just as likely Biden was targeted simply because he seemed to be the out-and-out frontrunner of the Dem field and not because he was uniquely threatening. These are two different things.

      2) It’s worth considering the Trump team’s judgment, but there are ample reasons you should not take it seriously. They are a gaggle of buffoons who answer to a senile child.

  4. Unfortunately, the more bland the democrat the better; the country just isn’t into radical democrats this cycle. Warren, Sanders are certain losers to Trump; Abrams won’t fly as vice for the same reason.

  5. I will of course be voting for the Democratic candidate for President, but my vote in the primaries is still up for grabs.

    Same here, boss. My state primary is two weeks after Super Tuesday; we’ll have to see who in the race is still standing then.

    1. I lost track…is the ballot initiative that reinstated voter rights for felons who completed their sentences still stand? Last I heard, those folks had to jump through a bunch of hoops like paying the state all outstanding debts. Then I read there was an organization that is paying off people’s debts and it might amount to a lot of registrations.

      Just thought I’d ask the one person I know who lives in FL and will know the scoop.

      1. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative amending the Florida constitution to re-enfranchise those convicted of felonies (other than murder and sex offenses) once the offender has completed his or her sentence. Last year, the Republican-controlled state legislature threw up a roadblock to this amendment by passing a statute require that offenders who have completed their terms of imprisonment or probation have also paid all costs, fees, and restitution before their sentences could be deemed “completed” for purposes of satisfying the re-enfranchisement amendment.

        An indigent offender can satisfy this statute by going to court to have the judge waive any remaining unpaid fees and costs, which has been happening in Democratic-controlled (but not Republican-controlled) counties. You can find a more thorough explanation of how this is playing out here.

        1. Thanks Ken, and thanks for the link; partisan politics in Florida is brutal. Right now there are approx. 200,000 more registered democratic voters in Florida, hopefully that spread will widen as 2020 looms.

    1. Dang, dude, don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone more in need of a salubrious dose of Der Bingle and the Andrews Sisters: 🙂

      1. Dang, dude, yourself. This morning I somehow had the earworm of “Who’s the slimiest slime of them all? Captain Hook!Captain Hook!” And now this😖

    1. Given that our host is a professor of biology (and that he was speaking metaphorically), would it palliate your concerns had he referred to them by the taxonomic binomial rattus rattus?

      Any way you cut it, there’re some repugnant creatures currently infesting the people’s house.

  6. The one thing I do worry about is the prospect of Trump refusing to leave office, as has been suggested by that “Anonymous” official in his administration. While the political institutions would certainly work to remove him peacefully, it is altogether uncertain what kind of organizing Trump will do with respect to the more fringe elements of his base. As some may recall, Trump was refusing to say whether he would accept the outcome of the 2016 election in the event of his losing.

    That sort of thing makes it crucial that whoever wins, does so by a historic landslide, rather than squeaking by. My bet is on Bernie accomplishing this, given his consistent pro-Social Security/Medicare and anti-NAFTA positions. Trump is vulnerable on these points, but someone like Biden can’t credibly argue the case, given Biden’s record.

    1. Yang.
      Biden/Sanders/Warren is a quagmire. Don’t think any of these can beat Trump. Bern and Warren supporters are blind to the megaton bomb that will be their Op Research explosion and cloud (Biden is already under said cloud), orchestrated by cult leaders, professional liars, successful demagogues, the billionaire Pro-corruption backers and the generic foreign enemies of the US who have been around forever; all see and seek to take advantage of a very weakened “Republic”. Dems don’t have close to the technological advantage the gop has when it comes to sequestering voters. D

      I don’t think for a second that the Chinese don’t know what’s going on. Who knows what they want? End game? Either way, their strategy is to pull the levers, and it seems they are very adept at doing so. They have Trump by the short hairs, make no mistake, as do so many governments and mobs pretending to be so.
      There are other possibilities. Dems are wrong imo to embrace Sanders. He can’t turn the Senate for lack of trust (Warren is also on this hot seat). His adherence to his form of government doesn’t capture the imagination. That’s a problem that I think Yang could solve. America can be swayed by imagination; dull facts fall on a leaden wall. Let’s hear something new. I hope.

    1. @painedumonde . So right. Tough to tell who is most electable. I keep changing my mind, but right now, I go with a Sanders/Klobuchar ticket as most electable.

  7. I agree with the take on Sanders. While Sanders does excite people on the Left (positively), he also excites them on the Right (negatively) so it’s a wash. Biden isn’t exciting but with Klobuchar or Mayor Pete as running mate, he would add appeal to the more progressive Dems. Sure, their policies aren’t progressive but their genders are. Besides, Trump fears Biden the most and that is no small thing.

    1. I think he’s actually genuinely afraid of Sanders too. I also think Sanders will win the nomination, and I think he’ll beat Trump.

      I’ve no doubt that it’ll be a truly horrible election campaigning period, and that it’ll be close, and that the economy is a very strong argument on Trump’s side.
      But I also think that Sanders is vastly more likable than Trump, and hits him in exactly the places where he’s vulnerable, ie. the fact that he’s obscenely wealthy and filled his cabinet with billionaires, yet claims he’s anti- the elites. On the issue of inequality Sanders can pummel him all day long and Trump really wouldn’t have an argument.

      Bernie is vulnerable, and flawed, and has a lot of baggage – but he’s enormously charismatic, and set him next to Trump and the latter will come across as a venal, crass, cynical asshole even to many of his own supporters.
      When Hillary was Trump’s opponent people despised her so much that Trump somehow came across as relatable and appealing – that won’t be the case when Sanders is standing across from him.

      …Which is why I think Trump will go out of his way to avoid moderated debates this year. I think he’ll refuse to do them if it’s Bernie who’s the opponent. If it turns out to be Warren…maybe he’ll do it. Biden? Who knows. If he does try and wriggle out of it the Dems have to try and get under his graphene-thin skin of his and call him out for cowardice. It’s crucial that they get to debate him, especially if it’s Sanders.

      Politically speaking I think he’s most afraid of Sanders. More so than Biden even.

      1. Totally disagree. Sanders is so easily tarnished by the “socialist” label. Many pundits say that Sanders is the one candidate Trump would most like to face, which is why he’s slung so little mud at him thus far. Trump wants Sanders to win the primary.

        1. Yeah, I don’t think non-USians quite grasp the utter phobia and contempt American voters have for “socialism” which they equate with communism, atheism, and giving free things to the poor (it’s their fault they’re poor) and immigrants (they’re stealing your jobs). It’s stupid and unwarranted, I know, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And Sanders doesn’t have the ability to temper his democratic socialism and counter the communist socialism that will be ringing from every TV, newspaper, internet, robo call, etc. The only constituents Sanders excites more than the other candidates are millennials and other young voters. Problem is, they don’t vote. We wouldn’t be in our current mess if they did vote.

        2. I mean those same pundits thought Trump would be the best/worst person the Republicans could pick and an easy win for any Dem so who gives a rat’s posterior what they say at this point?

          Punditry is not a job with any qualifications of expertise or past job performance. You’re never punished for saying stupid crap.

          1. Trump is on record privately expressing concern about Sanders’s appeal to his core voters. Of course, he didn’t try and get a foreign government to smear him and his family…so you’d think he views Biden as the bigger threat, but even so, Trump’s uber-weasel instincts about his own weaknesses(like all true coward-bullies, he pretends not to have weaknesses but is acutely aware of them) are too good for him not to be wary of Bernie.

            People actually like Bernie(and Biden too to be fair) – whereas I personally don’t think many people actually like Trump, even his voters. They just like that he publicly spits in their enemies’ eyes.

        3. Well, even as a non-US-native, I feel like your total certainty that the american public will swallow the Republican propaganda about Sanders’s socialism is unjustified. Even if I was a thousand times more educated about American politics I doubt I’d have your level of certainty about the upcoming election.

          “Many pundits” might say that Trump doesn’t want to face Sanders, sure. On the other hand Trump himself has privately confided that he’s scared of Sanders’s appeal with his white working class constituency.

          In fact, even ahead of Biden, Sanders seems to me to be the candidate with the greatest chance of not just getting votes from Democrats, but actually stealing votes from anti-establishment Republican voters.

          Those are the same voters who were repeatedly told that Trump would bankrupt the country in 2016, and they voted him in nevertheless. The GOP will wheel out the same scare campaign against Sanders…why should they believe them this time?

          1. I really don’t have any level of certainty about the next election. I do have a level of certainty about the type of attacks Sanders will receive in a general election, and being labeled as a socialist and admitting such is pretty much the worst baggage a US politician can have.

            “The GOP will wheel out the same scare campaign against Sanders…”

            Sanders has never met the full brunt of a GOP attack campaign as someone running for POTUS. And a self-declared socialist (or democratic socialist) has never run for POTUS.

            You’re right that the Dems won’t fall for the socialist propaganda (though ALL the Republicans will). But it’s the Independents who are the largest voting block in the US. Last Gallup poll shows 28% GOP/ 28% Dems / 41% Ind. Unfortunately, Independents feel more strongly that the Dems are leaning too far left than they feel the GOP is leaning too far right. And that doesn’t bode well for the Progressive candidates as more Independents lean Democratic than Republican.

            But the biggest question for me is how much shit is going to come out about Trump and the GOP’s cover-up between now and November? Hell, just yesterday a tape surfaced that has Trump telling Parnas and a room full of cronies “get rid of her” meaning Yovanovitch. The truth will eventually come out, and that will greatly increase the chances of any (D) candidate. But will the truth come out in time?

            1. Well…I’d say ‘good luck’, but coming from a Brit at the moment it’d probably be the kiss of death.

              I don’t know, and I’m not ‘on the ground’ so to speak. But when you have a candidate with charisma and genuine populist appeal like Sanders a great deal of received wisdom just flies out of the window.

              And I’m not saying Sanders is the best candidate to be president, or the candidate I’d like to see Americans choose. But more and more I see him as the least risky(seriously) of the front-runners, and the most likely to neutralise Trump. I guarantee Trump will run a mile from any Sanders debates, I’ll predict that right now. He’ll put all his Jedi-weasel powers into wriggling out of it.

              Coincidentally, just since I wrote that comment yesterday, this story came out: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-said-his-2016-win-would-have-been-tougher-if-hillary-clinton-had-picked-bernie-sanders-for-vp?ref=home

              I think Trump is canny. He’s not as eager to face Sanders as you might think. And if you pair Sanders with a thoroughly moderate Dem VP, to reassure the country that he’s not going to be Fidel Castro for four years, he becomes a formidable opponent.

              I’m both appalled and fascinated by American politics at the moment, whereas my own country’s politics just appall me. Unlike in the UK, there’s a chink of light for American liberals.

      2. Much as a Trump Presidency was constantly blamed on the bad behavior of the left, I look forward to the thought of a Sanders Presidency where we can turn to the right and say “you know if you hadn’t prostrated yourself before one of the most pathetic, stupid, self-centered, and venal excuses for a human being to ever disgrace the Republican Party this probably wouldn’t have happened, right?”

  8. If the Democrats go with Biden, we’re doomed. Biden gets all this help from every media outlet, and yet, generates zero enthusiasm against a candidate that has every deck stacked against him.

    I understand that a segment of the Republicans want to borrow a candidate for a while and Joe Biden is certainly an adequate Ersatz-Republican. But what about people who are progressives, left or liberal and also want their interests matter at some point?

    I would not vote for Biden. Don’t panic, I am not American, but I have a feeling as last time that too many are not willing to go through the hassle, leaving the job early, waiting in line for someone like Biden, who is again merely less evil, short term.

    Long term, he might be a greater evil, when his success contributes to more such poor candidates propped up by dubious methods, and more overall disenchanted voters who then vote populist right wing demagogues.

    1. I think Sanders will get the nomination. And I agree that the problem with Biden is that he’s so utterly uninspiring.

  9. Sick of it! Sick of crappy headlines with “Here’s Everything You Need To Know!!” Monstrous nonsense. I generally won’t read any item with “Here’s What You …”

    We are doomed. I’ve cancelled my longstanding NYT online subscription.

  10. I will of course be voting for the Democratic candidate for President, but my vote in the primaries is still up for grabs.

    I like the ‘B’ team better than the ‘A’ team right now. I’ll be voting for Klobuchar or Buttigeig rather than Sanders, Warren, or Biden.

    At least, that’s the plan. The plan may change depending on who survives the next month or two – I’m not in one of the early primary states.

  11. I think that of the candidates still in the race, Ms Klobuchar would be the one with the best chances of beating Mr Trump comprehensively.
    She suffers from low name recognition, but once/if the candidate, that would disappear of course.
    On the other hand, she is quite popular in the areas that matter, the Mid-West, where Ms Clinton lost the EC.
    She is accused of treating some of her staff ‘badly’, but the things I’ve heard (I admit I might not have heard everything) amounts to three times nothing.

    1. Business Insider has most of the allegations. I think the only one they’re missing is this one from Huffpost:

      A former aide to ex-Sen. Al Franken recalled an encounter at a Veterans Day event to which Klobuchar was running late. (Franken, another Minnesota Democrat, resigned from the Senate in December 2017 after multiple women accused him of groping them or forcibly kissing them, often at political events.)

      A young Klobuchar staffer was sent to explain the senator’s lateness to the Franken staffer.

      “I’m supposed to tell you,” she said, with a look of terror on her face, “Senator Klobuchar is late today because I am bad at my job.”

      But otherwise its fairly complete I think.


      It is not three times nothing.

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