Our Monthly Top Ten: Biden Still the Frontrunner, But Here Comes Bernie
Author: Greg Valliere
April 11, 2019
IT’S DAWNING ON DEMOCRATS that they don’t have a particularly strong 2020 field; their two front-runners will be close to 80 on the next inauguration day. Yes, many of their candidates are flawed, but so is Donald Trump, which makes this such a fascinating election. Our monthly top ten follows . . .
10. Julian Castro: A long-shot but could catch a wave, as could Sen. Michael Bennett, Rep. Tim Ryan or the most unlikely challenger of all, Andrew Yang. There’s room for a strong Hispanic candidate in this huge field, and Castro has an opening.
9. Kirsten Gillibrand: Still hanging on, showing signs of life. Everyone in this bunch will get a month or two of serious attention, and Gillibrand is picking up her pace.
8. Cory Booker: Also showing signs of life, Booker is an appealing retail candidate, personable and serious at the same time. He would need a major breakthrough early in the primaries, and it’s difficult to envision where that would be.
7. Pete Buttigieg: The most articulate and interesting candidate in the field, “Mayor Pete,” 37, has an excellent chance of being the nominee — in 2028 or 2032. In the meantime, he’s smashing down barriers and has a cult following. Could Buttigieg wind up as the running mate? Can’t rule it out.
6. Amy Klobuchar: With Michael Bloomberg out, there’s a centrist lane open for one candidate, and for now that’s Klobuchar — until Joe Biden enters the race. Klobuchar seemingly has recovered from revelations that she’s a nasty boss; we talk with people outside the Beltway who find that an attribute, not a liability. Klobuchar needs a win in Iowa to have a chance, and that’s not out of the question.
5. Elizabeth Warren: She’s the policy wonk in this bunch, tirelessly advocating progressive causes in town hall meetings. Warren seemingly has put the issue of her ancestry behind her, and it’s way too early to write her off. But Warren still suffers from a perception that she’s too polarizing to win a general election.
4. Kamala Harris: Not particularly visible in the past month, Harris is poised to win the first big primary — on March 3 in California, where she has been endorsed by most party leaders. This marathon is all about amassing delegates, and Harris should have a significant lead after California. We’ll see next March how she handles being the front-runner; for now, she’s still the insiders’ pick to win the nomination.
3. Beto O’Rourke: He has the sizzle, but not the gravitas. Nevertheless, O’Rourke could stick around well into the primaries because he has the charisma and youthful looks that the party desperately needs. It’s tempting to call him an empty suit, but it’s also tempting to predict that he could catch fire, like Barack Obama, and become the nominee.
2. Bernie Sanders: He’s a serious challenger, determined to ride one issue — Medicare For All — to the White House. Never mind that his proposal is insanely expensive, or that Republicans will deride it as socialist. Sanders is a fundraising juggernaut, he’s deadly serious, a disciplined messenger, and still has a solid core of supporters. The humorless Sanders doesn’t care if people don’t like him; his campaign is all about issues. A looming problem: his tax returns, due within a week,will be embarrassing — he’s fairly wealthy in a field of multi-millionaires, how shocking !!
1. Joe Biden: We’re increasingly convinced that he will implode, yet polls show the personable Biden hasn’t been hurt by the focus on his creepy caressing. But he’s verbally impulsive and undisciplined, almost Trumpian. Perhaps most significantly, Biden has not put together a solid staff; all of the best policy wonks, fundraisers and political strategists have been locked up by other candidates. Time has passed him by — Joe Biden is the weakest front-runner in memory.
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