Meet the “Sub-2 Percent Club” of Dems Running for President

A closer look at the less heralded candidates in the race

Image of polling place
Primary season is almost upon us.
Pete/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / June 1, 2019 1:21 pm

We’re a little less than a month away from the first debate among the Democratic candidates for President. On June 26 and 27, the first debates will take place, each featuring “no more than 10 candidates on the stage each evening,” according to a Reuters report. But even with an abundance of candidates out there, some have flown a bit under the public’s radar.

Thankfully, this report from Matthew Yglesias at Vox spotlights the nine Democrats who are, as he puts it, “consistently garnering less than 2 percent of public support in every poll.”

The object of this article isn’t to ridicule these candidates, however — it’s to explore the changing fortunes and ideology of a political party, and to grapple with a question that arises every four years in tandem with the larger questions surrounding a Presidential election. Namely, just what makes someone decide that they would make a fine head of state? It makes for an excellent double feature with this New Yorker article about the memoirs of political candidates: both delve into the subtler aspects of campaigning and tap into some existential questions about the nature of political candidacy.

Yglesias finds several good ideas while exploring what he’s dubbed “the Sub-2 Percent Club.” Washington Governor Jay Inslee, whose platform deals heavily with climate change, is especially praised for his experience and environmental positions. In certain cases, the “Why are they running?” section for these candidates provides little clarity as to why exactly they’re running; for Inslee and a few others, it makes a lot of sense. Mind you, a few other candidates don’t come off nearly as well.

Fictional or fictionalized version of primary elections have embraced high drama or deft satire: consider everything from Veep to Tanner ‘88, The Best Man to Hillary and Clinton. Yglesias’s article is a fine reminder that real campaigns can be every bit as compelling as their fictional counterparts — with the added bonus of influencing our futures and the world around us.

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