Requiem for a Candidate: Jay Inslee

Remember Tom Tancredo’s presidential campaign? If you don’t, you’re not exactly alone. He dropped out of the 2008 GOP contest in late 2007, and hasn’t won elected office since. Like Jay Inslee, he was a single issue candidate.

Tancredo was all about immigration and the border. He’d announced in early 2005 that he would become a candidate if other candidates didn’t adequately address illegals (I don’t believe the term “undocumented” ever passed his lips.)

His candidacy went nowhere, and he endorsed Mitt Romney for 2008 as he left the building. You may recall Romney was far to the right of opponents like John McCain on immigration. Same in 2012 compared to Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich.

As a Massachusetts governor who had once run for senator to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights, this was an opportunity for Romney to show his conservative bona fides. After Obamacare, which was similar to Romneycare in Massachusetts, passed, taking a hard line on immigration became even more important.

It made a legit difference. Romney got endorsements from conservatives like Ann Coulter. This sort of backing was a big part of his 2012 nomination. But in the general election, it was the worst of both worlds. His plan to have people self-deport was mocked.

Voters who cared about border control didn’t turn out. Latinx voters opted for Obama by a 3 to 1 margin. This helped create the opening and logic for Donald Trump.

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Rock, Paper, Scissors

You can usually tell when pundits are getting bored. It’s hard to do your regular cable news hit, send a constant stream of tweets, when there isn’t that much happening. We aren’t waiting on new candidates to announce they’re entering the race. Anyone quitting this early wasn’t getting attention anyway.

It’s a few weeks until the next debate. And debates get old after a bit too. Donald Trump isn’t really jousting with the Dem candidates very much. Joe Biden has gone a few days without a gaffe. Kamala Harris changed her health care position again. This is what the summertime blues look like.

If you need additional proof, I was thiiiis close to writing a piece about Mark Sanford today. Warning: it’s still fermenting.

So thoughts turn to what if Candidate X was up against Candidate Y one-on-one. It’s easy to get sucked in. We all have our theories. Biden would lose one-on-one because though he’s the most popular, a majority of voters want a non-Biden choice.

Biden would win one-on-one because none of the others are considered safe enough to a majority of voters. Bernie would do better than Warren because he already got 43.5% to pick him last time. Warren would do better than Bernie because he lost the last two-person contest he was in.

Harris would win because once she doesn’t have to worry about standing out, she’s a good compromise. Harris would lose because the other contenders have stronger followings.

Good news. We get to keep speculating for a bit. Results, courtesy of HarrisX are in. It’s a giant game of rock, paper, scissors.

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Warren v. Sanders: Is it Even a Contest?

Elizabeth Warren has consigned Bernie Sanders to the dustbin. A recent national Fox News poll has her leading him 21% to 10%. To show you how much she’s surged and he’s collapsed, in March, Fox had him ahead of her 23% to 4%.

While national surveys get more attention, the race begins in Iowa. The results of the first caucus drive the narrative going forward. The most recent survey from Monmouth has Warren at 19%, Sanders at 9%.

This is a reversal from the April results which showed Sanders at 16% and Warren at 7%. Overall, the Iowa Democratic electorate far prefers Warren. Her Favorable/Unfavorable number is +62. This is the highest of any candidate. He’s at +25, lower than Amy Klobuchar, and needing a periscope to get near Harris, Biden, or Buttigieg.

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Polling Update: Mid-August Standings

Greetings! It’s time for a fresh look at the numbers. When we last did this, 10 days ago, there wasn’t evidence of a big post-debate bounce or collapse for anyone. The headlines are indicating Elizabeth Warren has advanced a bit further. How true is this? Has she separated herself from Bernie Sanders?

To see supporting data, check out:

Real Clear Politics


Reminder: The RCP list is more limited, but more closely mirrors the polls being considered by the DNC for debate qualification. Past history has shown some of the additional surveys listed by FiveThirtyEight can be predictive, though they can’t help candidates get to debate.

We have several individuals or groupings to look at:

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Requiem for a Candidate: John Hickenlooper

Let’s compare two candidates. We’ll pick up their story in late 2010.

Candidate A: After working as a geologist, he found himself unemployed after a corporate buyout, during a historic downturn in the oil market. Facing a career crossroads, he borrowed money from friends, family, and the local economic development fund to launch one of the first brewpubs in the country.

In launching and sustaining his business, Candidate A got very involved in the community, becoming mayor in 2003. Quickly recognized as one of the most popular and effective mayors in the country, he won re-election in 2007 with 88% of the vote, drawing bipartisan support. In November 2010, he takes the next step and becomes governor.

Candidate B: High school valedictorian. Graduated with distinction from Harvard. Went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. Worked a series of short-term lower level political jobs. Spent a few minutes as a consultant at McKinsey. Ran for state treasurer as a Democrat in a red state and lost by more than 20 points.

Nine years later, Candidate A and Candidate B both run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Candidate A makes zero impact, and withdraws six months ahead of the Iowa Caucus. Candidate B raises more money than the other 20+ candidates in the second quarter, and sits securely in fifth place in national polls, running closer in Iowa and New Hampshire than overall.

What happened in between?

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The Big Three

As of this morning, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren control a full two-thirds of total national polling support in the Democratic nomination contest. The remaining 20+ contestants are good for a quarter, with about 8% of poll respondents in the pit of indecision.

Here’s another way to look at the standings:

Biden 30.3%

Kamala+Pete+Beto+Booker 19.1%

Warren 18.5%

Bernie 17.5%

Undecided 7.8%

All Others 6.2%

Kamala Harris made this a four person race for a minute after the first debate round. Not only did she start fading quickly, but is now all the way back to where she was before landing that right cross on Biden. When she’s having a good moment, Harris is the Goldilocks candidate. When she’s not, she’s too hot for some, and too cold for the rest. We may hear from her again, but for now, she’s in a different tier.

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Being a Billionaire Doesn’t Suck

The Democratic electorate has no interest in John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee, or Steve Bullock. Four current or very recent governors or senators, popular with their home states. The most current estimates have all four missing the next round of debates. You need four qualifying polls of two percent or higher. These four individuals have combined for one. Only Inslee is anywhere near the additional 130,000 donor requirement. Thank u, next.

Tim Ryan, John Delaney, and Seth Moulton, please exit the campaign bus. Three current or former representatives, with nary a constituency. Then there’s Bill deBlasio. He’s not going anywhere either, but at least he can say his national favorability ratings have surpassed his NYC ones in negativity. Hey, somebody has to be the least popular politician in America. I almost forgot to mention Joe Sestak. Would you have noticed if I had?

Random white male politicians don’t have any use in the 2020 Democratic nomination contest. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and what’s left of Beto O’Rourke have filled this category in full. Two famous old guys, two young pups with suitable narratives. We’re good here.

If one is willing to accept the Democrats just aren’t looking for a pseudo-centrist, 1992 Bill Clinton-style nominee, even one suitable for the Me Too Era, next month’s debate stage in Houston will be plenty diverse. In addition to the four white guys who made the cut, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Andrew Yang are in.

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Delaney in a Coal Mine

I can’t find the stat that prompted this piece. David Axelrod and Mike Murphy have a podcast. Hacks on Tap. It’s pretty good if you like that sort of thing. And their logo is a take off of the Old Style beer logo. Extra points for that. In their most recent episode, Axelrod mentions a Quinnipiac poll that showed Democratic viewers hated John Delaney’s debate performance.

Elizabeth Warren was judged the debate winner, and was something like +50 or +60 with Dem viewers. Delaney was -30. The problem is I can’t find the damn data. When I pulled up the Quinnipiac results, there were questions about the debate, but not the favorable/unfavorable performance data Axelrod referred to.

I seriously doubt he’s making this up. He may have access to data beyond what Quinnipiac has on their website. Maybe he was referring to a different poll that I also can’t find. Regardless, I’m going to ask you to trust that the numbers he quoted are fundamentally correct.

For those who weren’t watching, or have managed to consign a debate from two weeks ago to the recesses of your cranium, Warren and Delaney jousted seemingly nonstop for the first hour of the first debate of the second round of debates. The biggest point of contention was Medicare for All. Warren is in favor, Delaney believes it will bankrupt a huge amount of hospitals.

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So When Do the Standings Change?

This isn’t normal. Ever since the initial dislocation from Joe Biden jumping in wore off, nothing has moved very much. In that time, we’ve seen two rounds of debates, a quarterly fundraising report, and all sorts of regular campaign stuff. Yet, with few exceptions, we’re where we were three months ago.

If you tour the polling from this stage in the previous several nomination cycles, you’ll find some to way more volatility. Scott Walker went from lead pack to out of the race in a couple of debates in the summer of 2015. Though he recovered, John McCain’s campaign almost collapsed eight years prior.

That same year, Barack Obama sometimes looked like he was seriously challenging Hillary Clinton, and other times appeared out of contention. This ebb and flow is normal. Not only is three months of stasis unusual, but there’s no sign it’s changing.

Biden did badly in his first debate, lost several points and then recovered them as quickly as he lost them. Early surveys after the second debate show no further changes. By itself, this isn’t a big deal. Donald Trump showed a similar pattern for a longer stretch of time in 2015.

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Detroit Debate Night One Recap: The Long March

That was a looonnnngg debate. More than two and a half hours. With ten candidates, I guess it was necessary, but wow. Done whining. On to the review.

Most candidates were stronger than in their first attempt. The CNN moderator team was stronger than the NBC group in the first debate. The enhanced anti-interruption rules helped. Overall, this was cleaner than last month.

Let’s see how the candidates did:

Group 1: Bernie & Liz

Elizabeth Warren is a good debater. Unlike round one, where she was a very strong presence for the first hour and then faded to the background a bit, she was fully engaged for all 150+ minutes. There’s no way any of her supporters will abandon her based on the debate.

Also unlike round one, she got to do some real jousting. While nobody is going to confuse John Delaney with Donald Trump, voters looking for a candidate who can throw down have extra reason to have confidence in her.

Bernie was much stronger than last month, especially in the first hour, when he powered through the health care section. Basically, he did the Full Bern. Larry David is lucky it’s summer, or he’d be stuck reprising his role this weekend.

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