Ever since the 2016 election ended, Democrats have debated whether Bernie Sanders would have been able to defeat Donald Trump in the general election. Martin O’Malley recently added a twist to that debate by gently reminding us that Sanders wasn’t the only failed candidate in the Democratic primary field (remember Jim Webb? Lincoln Chafee?).
In a recent interview, O’Malley stated that not only would Sanders have lost in a general election (a totally reasonable claim to make), but also that “I think I would have won” in the general election (a totally unreasonable claim to make, especially from someone whose most covered campaign event in Iowa was a talk he gave to one person, who didn’t even commit to voting for him!).
It’s no secret that O’Malley is openly considering running for president again. His leadership PAC is already testing the waters in Iowa, even though he got fewer than 1% of the delegates in the caucus, before dropping out of the race altogether.
I believe it is certainly likelier than not that O’Malley will run for president in 2020, but the fact that he is as clueless and naive about his performance in the 2016 election as this probably doesn’t give him much reason to hope (the fact that virtually all of Maryland’s Democratic establishment had endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 also shouldn’t have been grounds to be optimistic for him, but maybe he just can’t take a hint).
Assuming O’Malley runs in 2020, and assuming he follows the same strategy he did in 2016, it’s very possible that his 2016 campaign may actually be the watermark of his presidential ambitions.