Outtakes: Bay Area voters agonize over their presidential choices on Super Tuesday

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All eyes are on California now in the Democratic presidential nomination process, where Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is projected to win.

However, the math regarding delegates is a little more complex, and former Vice President Joe Biden could still remain viable if he just manages to capture some top 15 percent of the votes on Super Tuesday.

I can’t cover the whole state, but I did venture out in my own back yard in Silicon Valley to hear what’s on the mind of my fellow citizens in the past couple of weeks for KALW public radio (that’s 91.7 FM,) and I’m pleased to report that there are a lot very, very engaged voters out there watching every debate, soliciting their fellow citizens and engaging in thoughtful exchanges about the candidates.

I went to a debate watch party at a Round Table Pizza in Menlo Park on Tuesday. There were probably about 60 or more people there, everyone ranging from young families with their children to retirees. They all listened intently to the candidates on the debate stage in South Carolina.

Some of them were so undecided that they were pleading with their fellow voters to make their cases on behalf of the candidates to her:

This voter went on:

“I really think Pete Buttigieg has been consistently very, very strong, and really good and even keel with his responses, and he can really debate Trump. And on top of that, I do like what he says. He’s a moderate. A lot of my friends are Bernie supporters.

And I actually was thinking Bloomberg could do it. But he bombed the debate last time and I really don’t think that he’s very passionate or genuine when he talks … and going back to what some people saying [about him being a Republican] he’s been a Democrat for a long time. And he did, you know, he was mayor of New York for three terms. There’s a reason why people voted him in … So again if anybody wants to come talk to me afterwards and argue a case for [a candidate,] great.

But right now I’m still thinking Pete Buttigieg. But I’m just wondering why people still think he’s too young, gay or can’t get elected. I mean, how do we get over all that? Thank you very much.”

There were a couple of other Buttigieg supporters, but one fan was disappointed by his attacks on Sanders.

Missed opportunities

Several of the voters didn’t like the cage match that the debate often broke down into.

Several wished that the moderators brought up climate change. That’s what they wanted to hear about. That was true both at this debate watch party and another I attended at The Swingin’ Door in San Mateo.

It was pretty much an even competition between Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (scroll down to the bottom for ranked choice voting results) at the Menlo Park debate watch party, and here’s what one young Warren supporter had to say:

But Bernie had a lot of supporters in the audience that evening, including a couple of organizers of the event. They’d put it together because they wanted to hash out ideas about which candidate is the strongest in this election cycle.

Here’s what one of them had to say on why she’s supporting Sanders and not Warren (sorry, please scroll forward to .16 to hear the remarks:)

One of the most thoughtful comments I came across came from Harry Pfeiffer, a retired lawyer from San Francisco, who explained just how difficult it is for candidates to discuss climate change policies in an honest way.

He spoke at an Indivisible debate watch party earlier in February. In particular, Pfeiffer was discussing a debate point about trade negotiations and climate change:

They really are difficult issues, because there are winners and losers in trade. And that’s just the way it is.

And basically, a good trade program is going to bring a lot of money into those persons who are well positioned to benefit from globalization. And you can only make trade work then if you kind of take some of the benefits that run to those global type of companies, and force them down to the people that are adversely affected because there will be people adversely affected.

And the new thing for me — this wasn’t true 20 years ago when I was first trying to think through these programs — But the new thing now is you have a new client, and that’s the climate. And I’m not smart enough to figure that part out. I don’t know how the climate [gets factored in.] Every climate also has to be [treated] like the workers who lose jobs in the mill towns that lose employment.

There’s got to be some kind of trade off to the climate as well and I’m not sure how that comes out but it has to go into the mix.

I'm a journo

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