Our Monthly Update on the Democrats’ Campaign — Uncle Joe, the Comeback Kid
Author: Greg Valliere
November 15, 2019
LOTS TO FOLLOW THIS MORNING: Growing chances of a deal by next week on a NAFTA replacement; more public impeachment testimony; a grave threat to President Trump on his tax records; and the likelihood of an imminent move by Beijing to crush the insurrection in Hong Kong, just to cite a few issues.
BUT IT’S TIME FOR OUR MID-MONTHLY HANDICAPPING of the Democrats’ presidential race, so here goes . . .
7. The field: Time to say goodbye — soon — to Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard and perhaps several others. Tom Steyer’s billions will keep him in the race for a while longer, and sharp-tongued Julian Castro may last until March. Same with Andrew Yang; the kids love him. Deval Patrick, from Bain Capital, thinks he can win South Carolina on Feb. 29, but then what?
6. Amy Klobuchar: If there’s someone who might catch The Wave in the weeks before Iowa’s Feb. 3 caucuses, it could be Klobuchar, with her easy humor and moderate policies. She seems to be enjoying this.
5. Mike Bloomberg: We place him this high because $55 billion can buy a lot of TV ads ahead of Super Tuesday on March 3. But it can’t buy enthusiasm, and there’s outright hostility on the left toward an elderly billionaire who loves Wall Street and strong police powers. If Bloomberg won the nomination — highly unlikely in this left-leaning party — millions of activists would sit out the general election.
4. Bernie Sanders: Having a heart attack was the best thing that could have happened to his sputtering campaign. Sanders is generating affection for his quick recovery; a decent showing in Iowa or New Hampshire would keep Sanders in the race until California on March 3; he’s got the money to stick around.
3. Elizabeth Warren: The prospect that she could become president scared the daylights out of Wall Street in August, but her late-summer Iowa lead evaporated. Why? She can’t credibly explain how she would pay for her radical agenda of Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, etc. And Warren’s tax policies make Democrats worry that she’s too polarizing to win the general election. But counting her out would be a mistake: if she wins Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and California, Warren could go all the way.
2. Pete Buttigieg: The knock on him seems to be that he’s too young and inexperienced, and has virtually no support among African-Americans. But the brainy and articulate Buttigieg has won over lots of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and could win California on March 3. As usual, the hunter will now become the hunted; let’s see how he handles being a front-runner.
1. Joe Biden: His fundraising has picked up, his campaign speech has improved, he was solid in Monday’s Town Hall, and suddenly his poll numbers have inched higher. Biden’s strongest asset hasn’t changed: he has the best chance of flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three crucial states that Hillary Clinton barely lost. Despite legitimate concerns about his age, Biden has the most plausible path to the White House, which even the party’s left-wing activists concede.
BOTTOM LINE: Trump is looking bad in the impeachment hearings, even though Senate conviction is very unlikely. Fortunately for him, the economy is good (but not great), and the Democrats have a weak and divided field. Can they heal the rift between the centrists and the left? That will be the key issue by summer; for now, the Biden-Warren rift is likely to widen.
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