As Dems flail for any decent candidate, can AOC still be easily dismissed?

As it becomes increasingly evident that few from any political party wish to see President Joe Biden run for reelection in 2024 — and as Vice President Kamala Harris continues to bungle her ongoing attempts to connect on any level with the American people — the game of guessing potential successors within the Democratic Party has become less of a parlor game and more of a desperate search among liberal activists and analysts who are watching support for their party disintegrate in real-time.

But none of the proposed names, including those of catastrophic California Governor Gavin Newsom, out-of-touch Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Fauxcahontas herself, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) spark as much dishy debate as that of professional rabble-rouser, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Yes, the face that launched a thousand memes is being seriously considered by an increasingly alarming number of voters as the long-shot that could lead the way to the White House, especially if President Biden correctly reads the room and declines to run.

Set aside for a moment any immediate thoughts that “President AOC” is simply too ridiculous a notion to entertain, because, as The Hill’s Niall Stanage correctly notes, “an Ocasio-Cortez campaign would electrify her fans and detractors alike,” and with the Democratic Party facing the dark depths of declining poll numbers, an electrical storm may be their only hope to remain on Pennsylvania Avenue for another term.

Like it or not, Ocasio-Cortez’s name has already made its presence known in several recent polls pitting the young former bartender against far more experienced opponents.

AOC took the sixth spot in an Echelon Insights poll this month that asked left-leaning voters who they’d like to see run should Biden bow out. Sixth place may not sound like something to celebrate, but third place went to Warren, and Ocasio-Cortez only trailed her by just two points, with Harris and Buttigieg leading the languishing pack.

Even if Biden does run, The Washington Post placed Ocasio-Cortez in 10th place among the Dems’ most likely 2024 nominees.

And in a University of New Hampshire poll released this week, she was only one point behind Harris, while Buttigieg beat Biden by another solitary point.

In other words, Democratic voters are currently split, and in an era of TikTok, Instagram, and activist influencers, Ocasio-Cortez has certain advantages her opponents should not readily dismiss.

As Stanage points out, Ocasio-Cortez “is already a fundraising juggernaut.”

“She could easily raise the funds to run a competitive campaign,” he writes, adding, “She also has an enormous social media following — more than 13 million followers on Twitter alone.”

And let’s be honest, in a line-up with the likes of tired, already-rejected candidates like Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg, it would be difficult for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to not stand out, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons, especially if Democrats continue to ignore their promises to progressive voters.

“We’re just tired of the inequality,” Tampa progressive Joseph Cox told The Hill. “‘We’ll bring wages up’ or ‘We’ll tax the rich’ but never do.”

Saving another run from Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ocasio-Cortez has Cox’s support.

Given enough time to tweet, and enough cozy kitchen conversations on Instagram as she mixes up margaritas like a real person (compared to Elizabeth Warren’s infamously cringe-inducing call for a beer), AOC could in fact come to represent the kind of activist-infused leadership for which the far left is hungering.

As Dems screamed and beat their chests over the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Ocasio-Cortez took aim at the Democratic Party with the kind of battle cry that is likely to resonate with a legion of burnt-out Bernie Bros.

“Some may want to go after the messenger, but we simply cannot make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do,” she tweeted.

Still, say some Democrats, this is not the time to entertain a 30-something Democratic socialist as a serious contender for the White House, regardless of her charisma.

“We really don’t have the luxury of playing these ideological games,” said Democratic strategist Tré Easton.

Ultimately, says Stanage, while the chance of an AOC campaign may be slim, it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

“It’s clear the chances of Ocasio-Cortez mounting a 2024 presidential bid are far less than 50-50. But they’re not zero either,” he writes. “And if American politics has delivered any lessons in recent years, one is clear: Don’t rule anything out.”

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Melissa Fine

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