White male presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders are well out in front in the Democratic presidential fundraising sweepstakes, while Joe Biden and Sanders dwarf the field in the polls. Their female, African-American, and Latino rivals have been left in the dust so far.
O’Rourke announced Monday morning that his campaign brought in a record $6.1 million in online fundraising dollars within the first 24 hours of launching last week, more than any other announced Democrat. Sanders was the only candidate to come close to matching O’Rourke’s support, with $5.925 million raised within the first 24 hours after his announcement.
O’Rourke and Sanders’ initial 24-hour fundraising combined put them above the entirety of the rest of the Democratic field, including leaders like Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; Washington Governor Jay Inslee; and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
To add patriarchal insult to feminist injury, a pair of old white guys — Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, who hasn’t yet said he’s running — lead in the polls:
Morning Consult’s latest analysis shows overwhelming support for Biden and Sanders amongst national Democrats with 58 percent of Democratic primary voters supporting them. Harris and O’Rourke trailed the pair with 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
I feel like the media is always captivated by the person they seem to think is a phenom: Bernie. Trump. Beto. But they always seem to be white men who are phenoms. In a year where we have more choices than ever, more women and more persons of color than ever, none of them seem to be deemed a phenom.
Here’s the thing. When folks throw $6.1 million at you in 24 hours, you’re a phenom. When you attract ten thousand people or more to your rallies, you’re a phenom. When, without any establishment support and the deck stacked against you, you nearly knock off Hillary Clinton, you’re a phenom.
The news media doesn’t anoint phenoms, it identifies them based mainly on the crowds they attract and the money they raise. It then gives their readers/viewers what they want — coverage of politicians who appeal to, or at least intrigue, them.
We have an amazing field of women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates. Speaking as an old white man, we don’t need more white men.
But if the “diversity” field were “amazing,” at least one of its members would be doing better in the polls and the money sweepstakes. In 2008, when that field contained a genuine phenom, he had no trouble with polling or fundraising.
Obama’s success doesn’t refute feminist claims that the deck is stacked against women. However, Hillary Clinton’s success arguably does. When the past two Democratic nominees are an African-American male and a white female, it’s difficult to argue that being a white male is a “boon” for Democrats seeking the presidential nomination.
In this cycle, the problem for those determined to nominate a woman is that the women running lack charisma and, in most cases, name recognition. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Kristen Gillibrand are newcomers to the national political stage. Elizabeth Warren has been around for a while, but lacks charisma and has that “Pocahontas” problem.
If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were eligible and running for president, I’m pretty sure her fundraising would be fine and her poll numbers might well be better than those of Harris, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand. If only AOC were a few years old, she could be the female answer to Beto O’Rourke, the man whose early success seems to irritate hard-core feminists the most.
Finally, let’s remember that the feminist complaint about the poor showing, to date, of female contenders is, in considerable part, a grievance against female rank-and-file Democrats. Any one of these contenders could raise millions and easily keep up with Biden and Sanders in the polls if she impressed Democratic women as strongly as she impresses Jeff Jarvis.
Thus far, they haven’t. That’s not the media’s fault.