Our Monthly Top Ten Has Changed — The Democrats’ Field Narrows to Seven
Author: Greg Valliere
March 13, 2019
IN JUST ONE MONTH, there’s been an unusual degree of clarity in the Democrats’ field of presidential candidates. Two potential heavyweights — Michael Bloomberg and Sherrod Brown — have decided not to run, and now there’s a clear front-runner. And we no longer have a Top Ten; there are only seven candidates who have a plausible chance of winning the nomination. Here goes:
The field: Julian Castro, in for the long haul; Terry McAuliffe, will have money; Stacey Abrams, hasn’t ruled it out; Pete Buttigieg, running for 2024 and beyond; Tim Ryan, has blue collar appeal; Jay Inslee, focused on climate change; Andrew Yang, could make noise; Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado, highly respected among insiders; John Hickenlooper, in a very narrow lane; Kirsten Gillibrand, not exactly catching fire.
7. Cory Booker: Surprisingly quiet, building an organization, but not getting much traction.
6. Amy Klobuchar: She’s weathered the storm over allegedly harsh treatment of her staff, and brings Midwestern pragmatism to the race. Klobuchar needs a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses, which could improve her vice presidential prospects.
5. Elizabeth Warren: Perhaps written off too soon, Warren still has a chance despite her cringe-inducing explanations of whether she is partly Native American. Her fiery populist speeches have inspired a loyal fan base, but most Democrats we talk with think Donald Trump could beat her handily.
4. Bernie Sanders: Party insiders can’t stand him, and they can be counted on to leak and whisper about Sanders’ flaws, including alleged sexual misconduct among his 2016 campaign staffers. But Sanders has tremendously loyal supporters and is a fundraising phenomenon. It’s way too early to count him out.
3. Beto O’Rourke: He’s difficult to handicap, but for Democrats who want charisma and pizzazz, the former Texas congressman offers something different. We’re not positive that he will run, but he’s not in Iowa this month for the weather. Is O’Rourke a moderate or a progressive? No one is sure. Our guess is that he’ll flame out by fall.
2. Kamala Harris: She’s in a perfect spot — not the front-runner, but comfortably in the top tier. She’s hungry, she has plenty of money, and she’s the favorite to win the early California primary next year. Harris has a decent chance to land on the ticket, either as the nominee or, more likely, the running mate.
1. Joe Biden: He’s becoming the clear favorite to win the nomination. We expect Biden to announce by the end of the month with a carefully scripted roll-out that emphasizes his appeal to blue collar workers and the likelihood that he can beat Trump in states like Pennsylvania. Is Biden rusty? Yes. Does he have any new ideas? Probably not. Is he windy? Definitely. There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate — but Biden, a fit and trim 76, appears to be good enough for Democrats who simply want to oust Trump.
BOTTOM LINE: If you believe the Las Vegas oddsmakers, Trump is still the clear favorite in 2020. But his path to 270 electoral votes seems steeper than in 2016 — and besides, a month is a lifetime in politics, and his temperament will be tested in the upcoming month as Robert Mueller and other prosecutors step up the pace. Trump can run effectively against radical socialists, but that label doesn’t seem likely to stick with Uncle Joe Biden.
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