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”

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)”