Julian’s Choice

You might have missed this with Iran boiling and all, but last week Julian Castro exited the 2020 Democratic nomination contest, and this week he endorsed Elizabeth Warren. Let’s face it. There’s not much interest in Mr. Castro. I debated picking a different headline to increase the odds of getting you to read this. He wasn’t a bad candidate, just not interesting enough.

Texans liked Beto O’Rourke better (he led Castro by a 3 or 4:1 margin in home state surveys while they were both running.) Latinos preferred Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Whatever ambitions he and his twin Joaquin had for leading a new generation of Latino Democrats while making their way through Harvard Law School are gone. That’s all AOC now. Much like Pete Buttigieg, Castro is a younger politician who doesn’t resonate with younger voters.

Castro shares another thing with Mayor Pete. Limited upward political mobility at the state level. Yes, Texas is getting more purple by the minute. But it’s still red. Beto ran a strong race against a controversial incumbent in a strong Democratic year and still lost. It wasn’t impossible to think Castro could win a statewide race by the end of the 2020s. But he wouldn’t be a favorite anytime soon. For an ambitious politician, that’s a while to wait. Continue reading “Julian’s Choice”

Something’s Gotta Give

Andrew Yang raised $16.5 million last quarter. That’s a lot. Bernie Sanders pulled in $34.5 mil, and Mayor Pete was good for $24.7, but Yang will finish ahead of established politicians like Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, and in the same range as Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

He’s gaining momentum. In the third quarter, Yang grabbed $10 million. That was way up from $2.8 in Q2 and $1.8 in Q1. No other candidate has followed this path. Sanders picked up right where he left off in 2016. He’s a small individual contributor colossus. Warren transferred funds from her Senate campaign account to get started and then showed early and continuous strength with small contributors.

Biden has relied on larger contributors from the beginning. Buttigieg was immediately able to attract both large and small donors, leading the money contest in Q2 and remaining consistent since then. Both Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke were able to raise a lot of money when polling in double digits and not very much otherwise. Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg are self-funding.

Yang is the only candidate who wasn’t raising lots of money in Q2 who managed to build momentum. He’s also the only candidate pulling in funds without matching poll numbers. When Buttigieg began hauling money in, he was near 10% in national polls. This past quarter, he led in Iowa, was at or near the top in New Hampshire, and fourth nationally. Continue reading “Something’s Gotta Give”

Why I’m Ignoring Impeachment

If you’ve read this blog for more than a minute, you are doing so despite the lack of impeachment coverage. It’s not that I don’t care. We only get an impeachment every couple of decades. But it’s not moving the needle. Trump was right. He could shoot someone on 5th Avenue without his supporters being phased.

Withholding military aid from Ukraine unless the Bidens are investigated is less serious to most than shooting someone on 5th Avenue. Yes, I’m curious if Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, or Susan Collins will vote to convict. I’m also curious if it will rain tomorrow. And the second item is more likely to impact my existence.

Here are a few things we should remember, next time we get tempted to think there’s much connection between what happens in the Senate and what voters will decide in November: Continue reading “Why I’m Ignoring Impeachment”

25,000 Voters May Choose the Nominee

There are 330 millionish Americans these days. About ten thousand of them will determine the trajectory of the Democratic nomination race. The all-time record for turnout is (approximately–exact voter count isn’t released) 240,000, set during the 2008 Obama-Hillary matchup. There’s a lot of interest this time, but I’d bet the under. Let’s say the weather is good, the populace is motivated, and somehow 300,000 Iowans make it to caucus.

That’s less than one thousandth of the national population. And based on higher turnout than reasonable to expect. But we’ll go with it. From what we’ve seen over the past several months, it’s gonna be close. At the moment, FiveThirtyEight has Buttigieg, Biden, and Sanders separated by less than two points.

Elizabeth Warren is trailing the lead pack by six or seven, and hasn’t had any good news in weeks. But she was once ahead, and has the best field organization/ground game in Iowa. If she can pick up a few points, this is a four pack. Amy Klobuchar is in contention too. Her numbers are in the same range as Rick Santorum in late 2011 and John Kerry in late 2003 before they won their respective caucuses. Continue reading “25,000 Voters May Choose the Nominee”

Pre-Debate Panic Check

In case you’ve been distracted with the whole impeaching the president thing, there’s a Democratic debate coming up. Thursday, 12/19 at 8pm Eastern to be precise. It’s the first West Coast event, taking place at Loyola Marymount University, after a labor dispute caused a move from the original venue at UCLA. Until Tuesday, another labor issue at Loyola threatened the event, as all 7 contestants vowed not to cross a picket line.

The timing isn’t great. Ratings have dropped for each debate round. Christmas is almost here. And as usual, Trump is blocking out the political sun. Casual voters aren’t going to watch. Most moderately engaged voters won’t either. There will be a short news cycle afterwards. Have I mentioned Trump?

Within these constraints, the candidates still need to get their work done. Who’s feeling the heat? Who can kinda relax? From least to most, who needs to have a debate moment that breaks through the clutter? Continue reading “Pre-Debate Panic Check”

Who Are Bloomberg’s Voters?

Hi! We’re going to do something we shouldn’t. Use a single poll to answer questions about voter support. Partly I’m lazy. Also, I’m guilty of confirmation bias. The new Quinnipiac poll looks very plausible, and it’s a well-respected survey. Plus the numbers are going to let me work with a narrative that makes sense.

Now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, and before we talk about Bloomberg, a few key notes:

Biden/Sanders voters are more certain than Warren/Buttigieg supporters

This was very striking. As is often the case, many voters aren’t locked in yet. Exactly half of Biden (48/49) or Sanders (49/50) supporters are positive they’re done shopping. The average voter has another 3 to 4 months before they reach their polling place, so this is a good number.

However, less than a quarter of Warren supporters (23/76) have made up their mind, and Mayor Pete’s followers are even less certain (17/83.) If you take their top line support and calculate against this, it means this is the guaranteed support for each of the Top Four:

Biden 15%

Sanders 8%

Warren 4%

Buttigieg 2%

That’s plenty of room for Bloomberg to make an impact. It’s also a reminder that Biden is in the best position. He has more positive support than his next three competitors combined (15/14.) Continue reading “Who Are Bloomberg’s Voters?”

Lane Four is Getting Crowded Again

Joe Biden has a solid constituency. So does Bernie Sanders. As does Elizabeth Warren. We’ve known this for months. Somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the primary electorate would prefer another option though. If one candidate can control most of these voters, they have a very good path to the nomination. If support winds up fragmented, they’ll all fail.

In Iowa, Pete Buttigieg temporarily consolidated that fourth lane and knocked Kamala Harris out in the process. However, Amy Klobuchar is making progress. She reached 10% in a recent Emerson survey, and is at 7.5% in the FiveThirtyEight average. We’ll deal with a full Iowa forecast separately, but if Klobuchar gets well into double digits, it gets real hard for Mayor Pete to win. Continue reading “Lane Four is Getting Crowded Again”

The AOC Effect?

Bernie Sanders woke up today in very good political shape. He’s at or near the lead in the first three states. He’s ahead of Elizabeth Warren in the national polling averages. The betting markets have him as the second most likely nominee. Sure, Joe Biden is still the favorite, but Bernie is well positioned.

If younger Millennial and older Gen Z voters turn out in higher than usual numbers (and remember they beat expectations in November 2018), it’s easy to chart a path to the nomination. Failing at that, Bernie is going to stick around the race for a long time. If the contest doesn’t sort down to a final two by the immediate aftermath of Super Tuesday, he’ll be participating in the first brokered convention in generations.

Contrast this with the morning of October 14, the day before that month’s debate. He was recovering from a recent heart attack and was convalescing at home instead of being on the trail. Everyone was reminded he was born before Pearl Harbor. Warren was at or near her apex. Here’s where the numbers were: Continue reading “The AOC Effect?”

Seven Up

The debate contestants for next week are mostly officially locked in. Andrew Yang has qualified. Tulsi Gabbard has decided she doesn’t want to play even if she gets the final 4% survey she needs. Cory Booker has zero hope. We’ll have a field of seven:

Joe Biden

Bernie Sanders

Elizabeth Warren

Pete Buttigieg

Amy Klobuchar

Tom Steyer

Andrew Yang

Mike Bloomberg is starting to get poll numbers that are more than good enough. But he’s skipping all donations, so as long as that’s a requirement, he’s not going to appear. Steyer purchased donors. He literally and intentionally spent more to get them than he got back. It’s strictly for qualification purposes.

It was a long shot that Kamala Harris leaving would help Booker. He wasn’t a common second choice for her supporters. Still, he held out hope that some voters would decide it was important to support an African American candidate. No such luck. He’s at 2% in the Monmouth survey, down from 3%, and 1% with Quinnipiac, down from 2%. Continue reading “Seven Up”

A Tale of Two Launches

A few weeks ago, Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick concluded the 2020 Democratic contest couldn’t survive without them. Somewhere north of $60 million in Bloomberg dollars later, his effort is showing a noticeable pulse. Meanwhile, Patrick is discovering a presidential campaign can be better cover than joining the Witness Protection Program.

The degree of his failure to launch can’t be overstated. There’s a new Morning Consult poll. Each of the fifteen surveyed candidates got at least a percent. Except Patrick. He’s trailing the firm of Bennet, Delaney, and Williamson. We all know one poll is just that. He’s under one percent in the Real Clear Politics average. Trailing at least 12 others. One of whom, Kamala Harris, is out. I’d tell you if he’s ahead of Bennet, Delaney or Williamson if they displayed any of them.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is running fifth nationally. You can say that’s not a great return on that sort of spending, but most candidates haven’t seen fifth place yet. His numbers aren’t consistent yet, but his better results have him as high as 7%. Ask Amy Klobuchar or Cory Booker what they would give for a single result like that.

He has almost 90 days until Super Tuesday. Prediction markets have him at about a 10% chance of winning the nomination. Sometimes they’re quirky, and while he has the fifth best odds, Hillary Clinton is number six. The four people in front of him have the same clear weaknesses they had when he entered. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Launches”