Sleepy Joe Awakens

In case you missed it, Joe Biden went off on a town hall questioner yesterday. Not going to say the response was perfectly executed. At one point, he called the man fat. And the worst part is I don’t think it was intentional. The exchange was a little more than two minutes, and we know Biden can’t keep his words together that long.

He was defensive. He cut his inquisitor off. He challenged him to a push up contest and an IQ test. The issue in question was Hunter Biden’s board seat for the Ukrainian gas company. As is his default, Joe didn’t accept any fault, nor admit to any mistake. He claimed nobody credible has ever said he did anything wrong.

Mind you, Hunter has publicly confessed to showing questionable judgment. Viewed through one prism, Joe is a way-past-his-prime old man who got so spun by someone calling him on a topic he should be very prepared for that he sounded like every angry old uncle at the Thanksgiving table ever. Continue reading “Sleepy Joe Awakens”

The Post-Kamala Chessboard

Something like a dozen candidates have dropped out. Kamala Harris was the first to matter (apologies to Beto.) Beyond giving journalists a chance to write inside the wreckage pieces, there are enough voters now up for grabs to make a difference.

Sure, she was at 4ish% nationally, and not in double-digits anywhere, but where her 8-10% in California winds up could easily determine who wins there. If Joe Biden gets most of her 5% in South Carolina, nobody is catching him there under any circumstances.

Even more importantly, somewhere between a quarter and a third of voters were still considering her. That number was close to where Pete Buttigieg is, and easily ahead of anyone outside the Top Four. Being next up isn’t as good as being first choice, but it’s something. As Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete had their respective climbs, being a second choice was often a step towards being first.

So, with all of those second or third choice slots now open, who can benefit the most, and who is likely to take the most advantage? Continue reading “The Post-Kamala Chessboard”

Requiem for a Candidate: Kamala Harris

Running for president is hard. Kamala Harris is the proof. And you don’t know if someone can do it until they do. If you’d given me two draft picks in January, I’d have chosen Kamala and Beto. Neither made it to Iowa. Some expert, eh?

So what happened? When she began, I figured this might be a version of Marco Rubio 2.0. He was similarly not perfectly suited to either Iowa or New Hampshire and needed to find a way to do well enough there, win South Carolina, and then pick up lots of delegates on Super Tuesday.

Both were strong orators who could be expected to debate well. Both were younger than some key front-runners. Both gave voters a chance to pick someone more interesting than another white male. I will go to my grave thinking Rubio could have pulled this off if only Chris Christie hadn’t broken his circuits in the New Hampshire debate.

For the first six months of her campaign, Harris was running ahead of Rubio’s pace. She did a bit better in polls, raised a bit more money (if you don’t count Marco’s PACs), was at or near the top of the prediction markets, and temporarily jumped up to the top group after the first debate. Continue reading “Requiem for a Candidate: Kamala Harris”

Pete’s Precedents (Part One)

Pete Buttigieg likes reminding voters there was “another young guy with a funny name” who won Iowa and went on to take the nomination and presidency. Linking yourself to a still-popular recent president is smart. And with many voters already liking Mayor Pete, anything he can do to build plausibility gets him a step closer to the prize.

It’s working. The Real Clear Politics average has him up six points in Iowa and three in New Hampshire. Betting markets have him as the second most likely nominee. His national numbers are catching up. He’s safely in double digits now, much closer to second than fifth.

Maybe most importantly, all of his polls are up. Each survey to post in the past few weeks has him higher than that same pollster had him the last time they ran numbers. In places like Iowa and New Hampshire it gets him great data. In South Carolina, slightly less crappy. Everywhere else, somewhere in between.

He’s at 16% in a new survey from Illinois, trailing Joe Biden by a bit, in a pack with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. This is notable, because Illinois has a substantial African American population. It’s not South Carolina, but also not Iowa. There’s no evidence he can compete in primary states with a majority black Democratic electorate. But there’s more and more data showing he’s in the mix in places with at least some diversity. Continue reading “Pete’s Precedents (Part One)”


A short time ago, I confidently asserted Michael Bloomberg wouldn’t actually try this. Once he looked at the polls and saw he wasn’t making a dent, he’d gracefully retreat and hope we didn’t notice he said he might run yet again.

The first week went as I figured. He sorta announced, the NYC-DC press hyperventilated, the general public yawned. Except for the Iowans surveyed by Ann Selzer, who presented data indicating Democrats there would prefer voting for weekly root canals, sans anesthetic.

He’s not backing down. Instead, he’s going on a Black Friday shopping spree, spending north of $35 million in advertising over the last several days of November, first couple days of December. The focus is big states. Places like California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New York. Has he lost his mind? Is he flushing away money that could one day get bequeathed to a needy charity?

No. Continue reading “Moneyball”

Warren on the Brink

Please throw this back in my face if President Warren is inaugurated 14 months from now, but she’s in legit trouble at the moment. A new national survey from Quinnipiac is out. Before we continue, yes, I’m aware this is a single data point. I’m further aware Warren is the top second place choice of respondents. And I know most voters aren’t fully locked in yet. Also, nobody votes for more than two months.

She’s still got a big problem. First, Warren clocked in at 14%. Six weeks ago, her national average was almost double that. It’s a big drop. For all of Joe Biden’s slips and slides, this hasn’t happened to him. Next, Quinnipiac is normally very favorable to Warren. In four surveys taken between late September and late October, she scored 27, 29, 30, and 28 percent.

In those same polls, Pete Buttigieg recorded 7, 4, 8 and 10 percent. So the closest of these had her ahead of him by 18 points. Now he’s ahead 16-14. Continue reading “Warren on the Brink”

Did the Debate Matter?

Enough to overpower the Impeachment hearings? Hell no. Today’s revelations will overpower whatever the world remembers from the debate. Yesterday, observers were already burned out from the hearings before the debate started. The universe of people who are super excited about the Democratic nomination contest, but don’t care about the hearings is very small.

And anger over Trump is greater than excitement for candidates who’ve been running long enough to have concerns about them, but haven’t had the primary victories to quiet those fears. It’s an awkward time under the best of times, but this doesn’t resemble the best of times. So you won’t hear much at all about it after today. But the following outcomes are more likely than they were 24 hours ago:

Buttigieg moves forward

No, he didn’t get hit as much as expected. No, this wasn’t the debate performance of the century. No, he’s not going to suddenly have lots of African American supporters. Yes, he still has to worry about Amy Klobuchar in Iowa. Yes, he may lost back some of his recent gains in Iowa and New Hampshire. Continue reading “Did the Debate Matter?”

Pre-Debate Numbers Check

This seems like an appropriate time to take a glance at where the candidates are. Particularly the four who are most likely to win the nomination. None of the others are showing up in double digits anywhere. So if they do soon, it’s likely this debate helped.

Biden is looking better than he has in months

A funny thing happened on the way to Uncle Joe’s Implosion. He’s now up by 13 points in the Real Clear Politics national average. It’s not just that he’s back over 30 percent and Warren is under 20 for the first time in a couple months. Sometimes the fluctuations are based more on who surveyed than how strong the candidate is.

The Economist/YouGov poll is consistently bullish on Elizabeth Warren and relatively bearish on Biden. They began surveying on a roughly weekly basis in early June. Their newest results are the first time Biden has reached 30%. He’s back to 30% for the first time in a couple months in the latest from The Hill.

He’s up by 9 in the most recent Texas poll. Leading narrowly in the most current survey from California. A few weeks ago, Biden was contending in Nevada. Now he’s clearly leading. A new Wisconsin survey from Marquette has him up 13 points on Bernie Sanders and 15 on Warren. Continue reading “Pre-Debate Numbers Check”

Debate Prep: Advice Time

The last few debates haven’t shaken the ground much. Not saying they were irrelevant, but less interesting/meaningful than the average pre-primary debate cycle. Think that’s gonna change tomorrow. Don’t look for giant changes in national polls. Instead, it’s likely to influence Iowa and New Hampshire. At this point, that’s where the game is anyway.

If I was talking to the candidates about tomorrow, this is what I would tell them:

Control Their Own Destiny Group:

Nobody in this group needs to wait for someone else to mess up. Each have a path to the prize. As of this writing, PredictIt clusters their respective nomination odds between 14% and 26%. That’s not quite a four-way tie, but as close as you’re going to see at this point.

They’re separated by less than 5 points in the Real Clear Politics Iowa average too. New Hampshire is an 8 point spread. In both cases, the gap between 4th and 5th is larger than between 1st and 4th.

Joe Biden

Forget the panic over him potentially finishing fourth in Iowa. Yes, it could really happen. He also is lead in ten straight polls of any kind tracked by FiveThirtyEight. National, Texas, Georgia, California, Arizona, South Carolina. Basically everywhere the Democratic electorate isn’t 80-90% white. Continue reading “Debate Prep: Advice Time”

Iowa Speaks

At this time of the pre-primary season, the most important pollster is J. Ann Selzer. Her surveys for the Des Moines Register/CNN are considered the most accurate of anyone who polls Iowa. Over the weekend, her latest poll dropped, and it’s the clearest indication yet that we have a four person race for the nomination.

Nationally, Joe Biden is still the front-runner. New surveys from Nevada and South Carolina are reinforcing the idea he’s still very strong in the two early states which actually have voters of color. A ton of voters are still very much open to the idea of voting for Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders has firmed up his base, and is in striking distance of the lead in the first three states.

The story right now is Pete Buttigieg. He’s up 9 points on Warren, 10 on Biden/Sanders in the new Selzer poll. When the same survey was done two months ago, he was at 9%. Now he’s at 25%. If the caucus were today, and this survey was accurate, we’d have a whole different contest.

This prompts a couple of questions.

Was this foreseeable? Yes. Previous DMR/CNN surveys from June and September showed this was very possible.

If Mayor Pete should stumble before the finish line (these next 11 weeks will be an eternity for him), who besides Warren, Biden, or Sanders could benefit? Is there another sleeper hiding in plain sight? Continue reading “Iowa Speaks”