The Trailer: Be skeptical of these 2020 storylines

In this edition: The 2020 story lines you don’t need to believe, the start of a dramatic Netroots convention, and a setback for Republican women in North Carolina.

I think the Philadelphia Action News theme should be the national anthem, and this is The Trailer.

The end of the second fundraising quarter, the launch of the president’s reelection campaign and the shuffle in Democratic primary polls since last month’s debate have kicked off a new phase in the 2020 election. From time to time, this newsletter likes to run through the story lines and narratives shaping the race; at this early stage, neither the race for the Democratic nomination nor the race for Congress is being shaped by daily events. Here is what’s on engaged voters’ minds, and what we know about it.

Trump won, so voters think anyone can win. This is turning out to be partially true. It’s an insight (or maybe a wish) that comes up again and again among Democratic voters: The last election scrambled their sense of reality, and it doesn’t make sense anymore to believe that an “unelectable” candidate exists. Steve Wormuth, a 35-year-old carpenter who came to see Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speak in Des Moines, said that his “credit was in the gutter” after an unexpectedly massive medical bill and that he fully supported the idea of a national health-care system.

“At this point, if you’re trying to say that saying one thing is going to turn people off, then look at Trump,” he said. “He says one thing after another and it doesn’t seem to affect him. He’s kind of turned politics on his head, and if the right can do that, why can’t the left do it, too?”

There’s a high-level worry from Democrats about the ideas drifting from the Democratic debates, and from town hall meetings, like replacing private insurance with Medicare or allowing undocumented immigrants to get public benefits. It has not yet sunk in among early-state voters; at this stage, voters see some individual candidates as left wing but are not nervous about individual issues.

Cindy Fitzgerald, a 62-year-old union organizer who came to see former vice president Joe Biden speak in Marshalltown, said she had ruled out Sanders in part because Republicans “would just call him a communist” and win the election by attacking his left-wing ideas.

“The free college stuff is why I can’t go for Bernie,” said Fitzgerald. “I like [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren, but she’s on that free college stuff too, and that’s a problem. And reparations? I don’t know where you even start with that. Those would be tough to run on.”

Biden can win back white voters who rejected Hillary Clinton. Maybe, if polling stays as strong for him as it has been. The snapshot numbers available to us suggest that Biden is in a stronger position with the voters who swung the Midwest: white voters who lack college degrees. The twist is that, at the moment, every Democrat does a bit better than Clinton did.