How Obama is playing a role in the 2020 presidential election

Twenty-one Democrats are vying for the chance to face-off against President Trump in the 2020 fight for the White House, but it’s a former president who could help determine who gets that chance.

“Obama is gold to Democrats right now,” Democratic strategist and head of research at Bustle Digital Group, Jessica Tarlov, told “WSJ at Large” host Gerry Baker. “Going into the midterms it was the number one thing people were looking for in their candidates... that they had served with Obama in some way or another.”

The Obama connection is seemingly giving former Vice President Joe Biden a leg-up in the race with a recent Hill-HarrisX poll showing Biden with a 32-point lead against other Democrats.

“Joe Biden presents such an interesting potential threat because he still does seem to be able to speak the language of that Obama-Trump voter,” says Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and founder of research firm Ecehlon Insights. “I think Biden is formidable,” she concluded.

But with Biden having been in politics for a half of century, “there’s certainly a lot of footage of [him] making mistakes on the trail” argued Tarlov. “He’s lost running for president twice before.”

Biden came out swinging in his presidential campaign, attacking President Trump’s character in his first ad.  That is the “smartest way for Joe Biden to have entered this race,” Tarlov said. “Make [the race] squarely about him versus Donald Trump… But [Biden] is definitely beatable.”

But the question every Democrat wants to know is, is President Trump beatable?

Despite the declining unemployment, accelerating economic growth, and rising wages under President Trump, there is “plenty of reason to think this president will be defeated” in the 2020 elections, Tarlov said.

“It’s not ‘just the economy, stupid’,” she argued. “It’s healthcare, stupid.”

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed healthcare ranking as the number one issue for voters heading in to the next election at 24 percent. Immigration coming in second at 18 percent. And the economy and jobs in third place with 14 percent.

“There are people that don’t love [Trump] as president but give him credit for the economy,” said Anderson.

The NBC/WSJ poll showed President Trump at an overall approval rating of 46 percent, but that number jumps to 51 percent in his dealing with the economy.


However Anderson warned: “you can be a victim of your own success…the economy is no longer the number one issue.”

“Republicans have now owned some of the healthcare mess with the actions that they’ve taken over the last 2 1/2 years.  And that remains a really big politician liability for the GOP,” she explained.