Our New Top Ten as the Democrats’ Field Expands
Author: Greg Valliere
February 11, 2019
AS WASHINGTON GRAPPLES WITH THE UNTHINKABLE — still another government shutdown, which would weaken the economy and threaten the airline industry — the Democrats are in all-out campaign mode for 2020, perhaps trying to deflect attention away from their racial debacle in Virginia.
WE PLAN TO UPDATE our handicapping every month, so here’s the February version of our Top Ten — with a look at the most important factor: who has a chance of beating Donald Trump . . .
10. Kirsten Gillibrand: In danger of slipping out of the Top Ten if Julian Castro or John Hickenlooper become serious players. Gillibrand is likable and relatively moderate, but there’s no sense of momentum or visibility in her campaign. Chances of beating Trump: Fair.
9. Corey Booker: Hard to handicap because it’s difficult to figure out where he stands. He’s articulate and affable, and there’s a chance that he could ride a wave, as Barack Obama did. Chances of beating Trump: Fair.
8. Elizabeth Warren: The activists still love her — and Wall Street still fears her — but there’s a pervasive sense that she’s too polarizing and scolding to win the nomination. If she can shake off the Native American fiasco, she still has a chance to run well in New Hampshire. Chances of beating Trump: Poor.
7. Bernie Sanders: Still a force, and we may have him rated too low. But he’s 77 his act is no longer unique, and let’s not forget — he’s not a Democrat. Within the party establishment, he has meager support. Chances of beating Trump: Poor.
6. Amy Klobuchar: She had a good rollout in the snow yesterday, and she refuses to embrace the far-left prescriptions that have electrified the party’s activists. A sleeper, could win Iowa. Chances of beating Trump: Good.
5. Michael Bloomberg: He’s sounding like a candidate, but he’s 76 and not popular with the party’s insurgent left. Bloomberg scoffs at the party’s redistributionist wing and doesn’t suffer fools easily. But let’s remember — he’s worth $50 billion. Chances of beating Trump: Very Good.
4. Sherrod Brown: A candidate to watch. The press likes him, both wings of the party would consider him acceptable, and he comes from Ohio, where elections are won and lost. He’s our dark horse, at the least a perfect running mate. Chances of beating Trump: Good.
3. Beto O’Rourke: The bloom may be off the rose, as Democrats question O’Rourke’s stunts and go-it alone style. He was like the mythical Icarus last fall, soaring toward the sun, but now he’s falling back to earth. Chances of beating Trump: Fair at best.
2. Kamala Harris: Clearly in the Top Three after less than a month as a candidate, Harris had the best rollout of any Democrat; even Trump gives her credit. Harris has the funding and the determination to methodically pile up delegates; the early California primary will give her a major boost. Harris went too far in Iowa — calling for the elimination of private health insurers — but she’ll tone it down, moving a bit toward the center. Chances of beating Trump: Good.
1. Joe Biden: He’s comfortably ahead in nationwide polls of Democrats, and he leads in Iowa. We think he will run (70 percent chance), even though he has few issues to sell other than antipathy toward Trump and Biden’s ability to connect with blue collar workers in rust belt states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. Yes, he’s gaffe-prone, but the gaffe bar has been lowered, hasn’t it? Chances of beating Trump: Good.
THE KEY FACTOR in next year’s primaries is simply piling up delegates in state after state. Bloomberg has the best chance of winning in a general election, while Biden will have the party establishment behind him (as did Hillary Clinton). But the party wants a fresh face, and right now that fresh face is Kamala Harris.
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