by Trevor Levin
After a few days of me tweeting about neoliberalism and libertarianism, and especially my hesitations about the Green New Deal as described Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, my followers would be justified if they were confused about my cursory ranking of the 2020 field, where Elizabeth Warren got #2 and Bernie Sanders tied for #3 (ahead of such neolibs as John Delaney and Michael Bloomberg). To explain this, and to put my intuitions to the test (I don’t want to rank Beto #1 just because he’s a tall white male, for example), I decided to turn to my usual decision-making method: a Google Spreadsheet.
I’m combining the attributes I’m looking for in a 2020 candidate into the immodestly named LEVIN score. I’ll figure out what the letters mean later. But here are what the letters in the spreadsheet mean.
BT%: odds of beating Trump, inferred where possible from PredictIt’s odds of eventual victory divided by their odds of winning the primary, with some admittedly tweaking if I think those odds are wrong. Their combined scores in the other category are multiplied by this at the end.
CCH: anticipated success in addressing climate change. Weighted at 10, but most scores will be pretty low, since only a few proposed climate policies would actually reduce global climate emissions. 0 to 10 scale.
FPL: anticipated success in keeping the US out of disastrous interventions abroad while promoting human rights through internationalism. Weighted at 9.
IMM: anticipated success in opening immigration as much as possible, whether through comprehensive reform or piecemeal programs like DACA. Weighted at 8. Combination of the candidate’s prioritization of immigration relative to other issues and the liberal-ness of their position. (Again, most of these scores will be pretty low, sadly.)
ECG: anticipated success in promoting economic growth, including the welfare of both Americans and internationals. Weighted at 7.
POV: anticipated success in reducing domestic poverty and precarity, including via healthcare reform. Weighted at 6.
CJR: anticipated success in reducing mass incarceration and reforming the criminal justice system. Weighted at 5.
SGV: how much I expect the candidate to reduce, or at least slow the growth, of the overall size of government in the long term. Weighted at 4. Very willing to give negative scores.
EMP: overall receptiveness to empiricism; the anti-dogma score. Weighted at 3. Note that this is already factored into the above scores in many ways, but this is sort of a catch-all for other policies.
INT: integrity; how likely the candidate seems to be to make decisions based on what is right rather than expedience. Weighted at 2. The note after EMP applies here as well.
SYS: anticipated success in reforming the systems of government, e.g. gerrymandering, corruption, susceptibility to foreign influence. Weighted at 1.
PTN: odds that this candidate is not at least partially controlled by a hostile foreign power. Weighted at 7, but only really applies to one candidate.
I’m including all major candidates (sorry, Andrew Yang and Michael E. Arth) who have already declared, plus those PredictIt says are more than 50% likely to run. (So no Bloomberg, Schultz, or Holder, though only barely.) Feel free to dispute anything about this; you know where to find me.
Final note: some issues are very important, like choice of Supreme Court justices or views on abortion, but the candidates differ so little that I don’t feel it necessary to include. I guess SCOTUS factors into SGV, INT, and SYS anyway.
Oh, and let’s let LEVIN Score stand for “Liberalism, Effectiveness, Victory, and INtegrity Score.”
Here are the results, with each category’s winner(s) highlighted:
(Note that I do not have time to actually rate the candidates on these attributes with much confidence, especially those like Hickenlooper, Delaney, Inslee, and McAuliffe, about whom I know very little.)
As expected, Beto and Warren came out on top. Surprised that Sherrod is so high, but I think this is exactly what this exercise was for: Bernie is much closer to my preferred style, but I do, at least intellectually, believe that expanding the size of government is bad and electability is important, and Sherrod gets a lot of the same points Bernie gets for foreign policy, antipoverty, and integrity.
Hope to update this (and leave the Political Compass junk behind) every once in a while in the coming months.