Despite (or thanks to) his total lack of political experience before this year’s Democratic primary, businessman and entrepreneur Andrew Yang continues to connect with voters and float a platform that resonates. His flagship plan of the “freedom dividend,” also know as a universal basic income, breeds intrigue and questions from voters about the prudency of the federal government handing out $1,000 checks every month to every adult, but Yang doesn’t back away from the challenge of selling such a plan to the American people.

Rather than fade away as an also-ran or a peripheral candidate, Yang has continued building a campaign slowly based on a series of good debate performances, and a brand of outside thinking that some voters genuinely want to see in politics.

Can Yang unseat Bernie?

As far as outsiders go, there is some overlap between Andrew Yang and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. They share a message of catering to working-class voters disaffected by job losses in manufacturing, but they go about proposing solutions in different ways.

However, as Politico reports, with Yang continuing to hold a spot on the debate stage, and Bernie’s support softening, there is a danger that this non-politician could become a new favorite for some of Sanders’ voters:

The intersection of Sanders and Yang supporters was highlighted last week when Sanders’ former ad firm — Devine, Mulvey and Longabaugh — signed on with Yang’s campaign. Mark Longabaugh, a partner at the company that produced Sanders’ famous “America” TV ad in 2016, told POLITICO that it chose Yang because “he’s offering the most progressive ideas.” The team had talks with at least one other presidential campaign about potentially working for it this cycle after splitting with Sanders earlier this year.

“He wants to transform the economy into an economy focused on people rather than corporate profits. That’s the sort of progressive bedrock candidate that we’re drawn to,” Longabaugh said. “Where a lot of candidates seem more negative and angry, I think Andrew comes to this displaying some optimism and a new way forward that could get this country to look to a new and better future.”

Yang may be a non-politician, but with years of successful entrepreneurial experience under his belt, he knows marketing and he knows how to use the internet and social media to connect with voters. Being an outsider in recent years has tended to pay better returns than hailing from the political class of the party establishment.

Some of Yang’s ideas are “progressive” in nature, merely by the way they approach the issues, but the overarching theme of Yang’s message is anti-establishment:

The Sanders-Yang overlap underscores another factor in the Democratic primary: While pundits frequently opine on “moderate” and “progressive” lanes, there’s also an “anti-establishment” lane in which Yang, Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson are jockeying for support.

Just as Sanders is no longer the sole progressive in the race like he was in 2016, he isn’t the only anti-establishment contender anymore, either. Sanders seems to acknowledge as much.

The truth is that Tulsi Gabbard probably isn’t going much further, and Marianne Williamson also seems to have hit the end of the road. The only anti-establishment candidates left in the race are Warren, Sanders, and Yang. That trifecta will be tough to crack for Yang since Warren has been on the upswing and seems better-positioned to carry that lane moving forward.

Yang for Vice President?

If winning the nomination doesn’t work out, there is a lot of data to support practically any major Democrat selecting Yang as a solid vice presidential choice. One thing that Yang has going for him is sheer likability. He connects with voters by explicitly not talking down to them, which is a trait that many politicians tend to suffer from:

According to recent [Business] Insider polling, Yang has the highest net support out of all the 2020 Democratic candidates among undecided general election voters who are considering voting for either party’s nominee.

Out of the 268 undecided voters who knew of Yang, 46% would be satisfied with him as the nominee and 24% would not be satisfied, giving him positive net support of 21 percentage points, due to rounding error, among general election voters.

Beyond the primary, Democrats will be looking toward how their ticket can appeal broadly in the general election. President Trump will be playing to his rust belt and Midwest base, and working hard in swing states. Some Democrats believe Joe Biden is the antidote to Trump’s advances, but what if Biden can’t make it happen? Is Yang a better option in the Midwest, for example?

Writing at Business Insider, conservative columnist Karol Markowicz says she could live with Yang as president when compared to the rest of the Democratic field because of the way he approaches issues and doesn’t consider himself rabidly partisan. Markowicz says she disagrees with Yang’s freedom dividend plan, but it’s the way he explains things and relates to people that makes him different:

What Yang has — which so many of the other Democratic candidates lack — is a real perspective that the US is not actually divided into left and right. Yang isn’t on the stage to take from some people and give to others. Even his UBI would pay the same $1,000 to everyone, whether they need it or not. He’s not there to sow resentment or to insult half the country.

It may also be that same trait that some conservatives appreciate that some progressives in the Democratic primary similarly don’t appreciate. Yang may be “too nice” for politics in 2019. It’s a cutthroat sport, as observers learned while watching Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton battle in 2016.

Yang is less ideological than his opponents on the debate stage, which connects with certain segments of the electorate, but it also turns some off as well.

Yang has earned himself a spot on the debate stage in November, but he may fall short in December depending on how his polls pan out. Either way, by hiring Bernie’s 2016 ad firm, and continuing to build support, he stands as good a chance as anyone on the stage of fighting on all the way to the Iowa Caucuses next year.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Mark Longabaugh, a partner at the company that produced Sanders’ famous “America” TV ad in 2016, told POLITICO that it chose Yang because “he’s offering the most progressive ideas.” The team had talks with at least one other presidential campaign about potentially working for it this cycle after splitting with Sanders earlier this year.

    I hate to be cynical but could it be that this agency choose Yang over one of his opponents simply because the Yang campaign paid more??

    From my perspective the sole idea that Yang has, that being UBI would turn the US into the land of the moochers. A promise by any political candidate of freebies will lead to a generation of laggards. Always waiting until next month and their next free check to catch up on things like food for their children and so on. In the meantime of course these slugs will be experts on things like Maury Povich and other important things.?

  2. Does any thinking person really believe that they’ll see a dime of the UBI? Or Sanders house for everyone. Even Obama talked about “Too good to be true.”

    Talk about creating more lazy people. The UBI would do just that.

    Also what is progressive about Yang’s “wanting to transform the economy into an economy focused on people rather than corporate profits.” What a bunch of garbage. Is he running for president of the United States?

    Go to Venezuela Yang.

    • I doubt that UBI will come about, but you guys are being way too negative about people. I live among poor people, and they are mostly creative and energetic. They just don’t have the money to make more money. Having a safety net gives a person an opportunity to try things. I speak from experience, since I’ve been a lot more active since I started Social Security.

      If your logic were true, then rich people would stop working once they became rich. They don’t. They usually work even harder.

      • You are right about many poor people. Many have the will to better themselves they are only lacking as you say a safety net. Speaking for myself I was referring to many of the younger generation who thinks that the world owes them a living. I can see some of this generation along with others from former generations salivating at the prospect of UBI and along with it less physical work.?

      • Right, UBI won’t happen. Nor should it. Taxes would go through the roof. Somebody’s got to pay the bill, right? The rich aren’t going to pay for it. That leaves it up to the middle class.

        “If your logic were true, then rich people would stop working once they became rich. They don’t. They usually work even harder.” (I’m sure exactly sure what you are talking about.)

        However, why would the rich even think of stopping? They work harder to please their stock holders and the boards, right?

        The rich build and build because they get tax deductions. They hire and hire as each employee is a tax deduction, right?

        The people have jobs. The economy grows. The government makes more money through business, etc taxes. Everyone is happy.

        Well they are happy as long as their person is president. Or someone in the political establishment.

        • The argument against the UBI is that people will be lazy if they have money. But the thing is that money is power, and most people with power will use it. The poor are now powerless.

          Yang’s main argument is that wealth comes from productivity, and as that productivity is more and more accomplished by machines (that are not paid), that wealth can be either funneled into the deep pockets of the few, or shared among the rest of us, to unleash the creativity and energy that is now focused on trying to accomplish a next meal or rent payment. I’m not sure how he plans to tax productivity.

          • 1. I don’t know the poor area you are talking about. But I know the inner city I taught in. The poor would use UBI for drugs. Period. Why? Because it is ingrained in their system.

            2. Let’s take the Navajo Indian Reservation. I taught there for 20 years. They have UBI. Here is a quote: “Why Should I work hard. I have everything you’ll work 40 to get.” They had free housing. Yes it was a double wide. They had a monthly income. Plus the federal government gave them fish to stock their lakes and other types of food. Hospitals and all education is free.

            So, they are satisfied. Very few want to leave the reservation to improve their life.

            Yang’s UBI is a horrible mistake. He’s not speaking from experience.

            • If Yang is right (and I’m not saying he is) , automation will take over the great majority of jobs (including writers!). Thus, we will have a shortage of jobs, especially “unskilled” jobs. So the real shortage will be–consumers. If few people have incomes, the economy will shut down.

              His answer is to tax the productivity of machines to give humans money to keep the machines running. The new tax will be on machines, not humans.

            • I stated my first hand experiences. Which are accurate.

              At first I didn’t believe what you call my impressions could possibly be true. But I was wrong. What I stated is factual. Personally, I’m sorry you don’t believe them.

              The world is an ugly place. I’ve seen that dark side.

            • I believe that you believe them, and that you see the world as an ugly place. Perhaps you shouldn’t focus so much on the dark side.

              We see what we want to see.

            • Those with more experience than I had finally convinced me that the ugly side is real. And these were very liberal people. I didn’t believe them at first. Then I saw it first hand.

              Looking at the US through rose colored glasses, as I was doing, isn’t reality. The African American principal, and a company president, said WE probably can only make a “dent” in improvement. But at least we tried.

              It will take decades before the dark side makes the slightiest mprovement.

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