Is Klobuchar's Momentum Real?

The Minnesota senator finished an impressive third in New Hampshire. Where to now?

Nate Jackson · Feb. 12, 2020

Exactly one year before yesterday’s New Hampshire primary, we profiled Amy Klobuchar and her candidacy for the Democrat presidential nomination. Since then, we haven’t had a lot to say about her because, frankly, she’s been part of the Democrat background — just one of what was at one point a bloated field of 29 candidates. Just eight now remain, and Klobuchar emerged Tuesday with a strong third-place showing in the Granite State.

As our Thomas Gallatin writes today, the real message from New Hampshire might be that many Democrat voters are still looking for an alternative to Bernie Sanders-style socialism. Joe Biden’s sinking ship doesn’t appear to be the rescue vessel they want. Pete Buttigieg is no moderate, meaning he may not be the Sanders alternative either. So, voters are looking at the “Minnesota nice” senator.

And why not? After all, this is the woman who boasted in the fifth Democrat debate, “I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends.” Case closed, right?

In the New Hampshire debate last Friday night, Klobuchar was the lone candidate on stage to raise her hand as being opposed to socialism. She’s the favorite of religious Democrats. And Vox’s Matthew Yglesias argues, “Klobuchar … is a Sanders alternative who offers a genuine trade-off — she’s running on a less ambitious agenda, but that consists almost entirely of being careful to avoid politically unpopular positions. She’s for taking action on climate change, but not for a fracking ban. She’s for a public option and price curbs on prescription drugs rather than an expensive Medicare-for-all program. She’d do a better job than Sanders of appealing to swing voters.”

But as our Louis DeBroux put it last month, Klobuchar “is campaigning for an economy-destroying policy of net-zero emissions by 2050 and a ‘more robust public option’ in healthcare. In other words, socialized medicine.” She also supports eliminating the Electoral College, ending offshore oil drilling, and banning semiautomatic rifles. DeBroux remarked, “It is a testament to how far left the Democrat Party has veered that Klobuchar could be considered a centrist.”

The truth is, there are no centrists in the Democrat primary. Even The Washington Post admits that “every major Democratic candidate is running on an agenda to the left of [Barack] Obama’s.” That includes Klobuchar. Regardless, her relatively weak organization in Nevada (February 22) and South Carolina (February 29) may mean New Hampshire merely provided her with 15 minutes of fame.

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