(This is the sixth edition of our weekly power rankings of politicians most likely to be chosen as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate in 2020.)
For the first time since former Vice President Joe Biden kicked off his search for his own VP, we have some sense of who – and what – Democratic voters want in that pick. And the short answer is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
More than 7 in 10 Democrats in a CBS News poll said that Biden should consider Warren to be his VP. And when asked who, specifically, they would like Biden to choose, Warren again led the way with 36% followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris at 19%, former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams at 14% and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 13%. (No other possible VP candidate got more than 4% in the poll.)
Which is interesting! But also, not necessarily predictive of how Biden and his vice presidential vetting team are going about the picking process.
Polls like this are, largely, tests of name identification. There’s a reason, for example, that the best-known candidate in the group – Warren – is also the favorite of most Democrats.
That said, there’s no chance that Biden and his team are unaware of this poll – and Warren’s broader popularity, especially among liberals, in the party. And that they won’t take those factors into at least some consideration when they make the pick.
Below, my latest rankings of the 10 women most likely, as of today, to wind up on the ticket with Biden. (And here is last week’s list.)
10. Tammy Duckworth: The Illinois senator finally broke her silence about the veepstakes this week! On a call organized by the Biden campaign, Duckworth said this about the pick: “Let me just say that I have every trust that Joe Biden will pick the right person to be his partner in serving this great country of ours.” Which says, well, absolutely nothing! But it’s worth noting that Duckworth didn’t use that opportunity to remove herself from consideration. (Previous ranking: 9)
9. Stacey Abrams: I’d dropped Abrams off last week’s list but, given the fact that she is one of only four women to win double-digit support in the CBS VP poll, it’s hard not to include her. Abrams also pushed back on the idea that she is actively auditioning for the job, telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “as a woman, as a person of color, as a woman of color, it is my responsibility to answer honestly and forthrightly, and if the question is about whether I’m competent and qualified for the job my answer must be unequivocal.” (Previous ranking: Not ranked)
8. Val Demings: Of everyone on Biden’s VP list, this Florida House Democrat may be the least well-known. But her unique background (she was the police chief in Orlando prior to coming to Congress) and the fact that she hails from a perennial swing state make Demings’ appeal clear. Asked this week about the prospect of being the vice presidential nominee, Demings told MSNBC that she would “be honored to serve alongside Joe Biden and do everything within my power to get this country back on track, not just here in the nation, but around the world.”
7. Gretchen Whitmer: While protests against Whitmer’s quarantine orders in Michigan continue to draw lots of national attention, it’s also worth noting that, well, they worked. The state’s curve has quite clearly flattened – coronavirus cases are now doubling every two months – after many people believed the state could well wind up being the next New York in terms of cases and casualties. The Michigan governor deserves credit for that – no matter how much heat she is taking over it from some segments of the state’s populace. (Previous ranking: 7)
6. Keisha Lance Bottoms: The Atlanta mayor has been thrust into the national spotlight by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) decision to be the first state in the country to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We are not out of the woods yet,” she said on Wednesday. “They didn’t get to the part that this is still a deadly virus and that you need to continue to social distance and wear a mask, and I think that’s the shortcoming of this order.” That heightened profile, coupled with KLB’s longtime loyalty as a Biden surrogate, puts her in a solid place to be seriously considered. (Previous ranking: 5)
5. Susan Rice: The CBS poll had good news for the former Obama administration official. Not only did 3 in 10 Democrats say she should be considered as Biden’s VP – which seemed relatively high to me! – but also 6 in 10 said they wanted a VP with “crisis management experience.” Given her role as both ambassador to United Nations and national security adviser to President Obama, Rice has the sort of experience at the highest level that no one else on the list can boast. (Previous ranking: 4)
4. Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator moves up two slots in our rankings this week because, well, you just can’t ignore that CBS poll and the amount of strong support she has throughout the party; 72% of white Democrats and black Democrats in the CBS poll said she should be considered as Biden’s VP. I’m not sure how this plays, but Warren also secured President Donald Trump’s endorsement for VP this week. (Previous ranking: 6)
3. Catherine Cortez Masto: Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was blunt in his assessment of Biden’s VP options in an interview with The New York Times this week. “It boils down to whether he has a Hispanic woman or a black woman,” Reid said. It’s not clear whether Biden agrees, but we do know that Reid is a very strong advocate for Cortez Masto, who now holds his seat in the Senate, as the pick. Her profile – Hispanic woman from the Southwest – would be a stark contrast with Biden, which may well be what he wants. (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Amy Klobuchar: As I’ve noted before, the top two people on this list are in a separate category – in terms of their chances of actually being picked. While Klobuchar would likely have preferred to be a little bit higher in the CBS poll, the fact that half of all Democrats wanted her to be considered as Biden’s VP has to be heartening, given that virtually no one outside of Minnesota knew who she was prior to her 2020 presidential bid. (Previous ranking: 2)
1. Kamala Harris: Every person I talk to about the veepstakes mentions the California senator first. Which is the right thing to do! Because there is no question that Harris’ combination of charisma, roots in a massive Democratic state and the historic nature of choosing her (she would be the first African and Indian American woman to be on a national ticket) make her the clear leader. (Previous ranking: 1)