This September brings another Democrat Party debate and various forums with the winnowing out process well under way. Also, the Republican Party has its share of wannabes running against trump that are trying to gin up some support. Besides these guys the only big name Independent running has left the race causing some in the Democrat group to breath a sigh of relief. The Iowa Caucuses are only five months away with New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and California following in rapid succession.
The Democrat candidates are starting to fall into groups and are beginning to be fairly predictable. The group that qualified for the debates includes all the current front runners causing these folks to get most of the attention. There is the group that did not qualify but will campaign on and should not be counted out. There is the group of also rans who can be counted out. Finally, there is a group of one, Tom Steyer, who will campaign until he decides to stop spending his money.
Before giving my take on the various campaigns, the general status of the current president needs to be discussed. I bring this up because like it or not, trump is the current headliner and everything trump impacts all things in the Presidential Campaigns of 2020. To me as a casual observer of no professional training, it seems trump’s mental and physical condition has deteriorated over the last few months. In particular, Sharpiegate has laid bare to the public a behavioral pattern that in the best light is odd. The stubborn and relentless defending of what was a minor goof up regarding the path of Dorian is growing into a wider realization that maybe, just maybe there is something not quite right with the commander in chief.
It is yet to seen what the impact of this behavior will be, but watch the Republican Senators. If they start to turn on trump his support will vanish in a second. If trump is felled, the 2020 campaign will be decidedly different than imagined. Democrats need to keep this possibility in the back of their minds as potential Presidential candidates are evaluated. It is conceivable, for instance, that the 2020 Republican Candidate could Nikki Haley. Imagine Joe Biden running against her. Joe wouldn’t stand a chance.
Yes, there are things to think about. These types of outlier scenarios are a good reason for Democrats to keep the nominating process as open as possible for as long as possible if they hope to take back the Whitehouse. Democrats should not be stampeded to one candidate by the media. That said, on to handicapping the Democrat candidates.
The group making the September debate include Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Corey Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang and Julián Castro. This group are solid candidates with organization and financial support. My take on them is:
Joe Biden – has two reasons for running, ego and not trump. Ego is rampant amongst all candidates for office and easily understood and wanting to see trump out of office is on all Democrats short list of things to do. Beyond my position that he is too old (this is not necessarily a chronological issue, although that is important), Joe is not bringing much enthusiasm or new policy initiatives to the race. Relying on being the one to beat trump as your primary reason to be the next President is not a winning message for the Fall of 2020. This seems to be the conclusion of two thirds of the Democratic Party as Joe is the choice of only about 30% of voters. My thought is that Joe will continue to slip as the Iowa Caucuses come closer and he will not be the nominee. Joe might beat trump.
Bernie Sanders – his policy positions are well known and very popular with some 20% of the Democrat base. Bernie has brought many progressive policies and ideas into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Bernie for all of his good points is just not Presidential timber. Too old and has become rigid in his beliefs. Expect Bernie to stay in until the end so he can use his power to influence the party platform and maybe give direction on the VP choice. Bernie will not be the nominee. Bernie might beat trump.
Elizabeth Warren – surprisingly to me, she is demonstrating she has the skill set to be President. Well thought out and documented policy strategies, patient ability to listen and learn, loves retail politics, pressing the flesh, communicates well, can make a commanding presence on the debate stage and is high energy. Warren has built an impressive campaign organization and donor operation. She has started catching fire on the trail and is a serious factor to deal with. Elizabeth has the wherewithal to be there in the end. Whether or not she wins the nomination probably rests with Bernie. She and Bernie command something close to 40% of the Democrat base. If Bernie decides to exit and throw his support to her she should win. Can she beat trump? Yes.
Kamala Harris – would make a super President. Kamala’s problem, I think, is that she just doesn’t get some issues. Healthcare is one example, she signed on to Bernie’s Medicare for All bill with apparently not reading it. Frankly, now months later she is still not being straightforward on the issue. It is ok for a President to not know the details of a bill, it is not ok to appear to be so lazy as not to learn. She wants to be President more than she wants to lead. She has a great campaign style and upside but she has to figure out the magic that will make her climb in the polls. Best guess is she is committed to staying it through the California primary. One to keep an eye on. She can easily beat trump.
Pete Buttigieg- Mayor Pete, oh how I hope he plows on through the competition. Smart, direct, spot on when he talks about how our current government is broken. He has a chance to really break through and be a transformational figure in American politics. Cheer him on and see how far he goes. We would be in a good place if he wins. The probably is slim, he will stay in as long as he can raise funds. Pete would make mince meat out of trump.
Beto – he can be a captivating speaker and is dedicated to working for the American people. I don’t think he has found a winning strategy yet. He is an excellent retail politician and not one to count out. He has an opportunity to increase his chances in this debate. Probably will not garner great support going forward but will hang in as long as the O’bama wing wants him too. Beto vs. trump would be a toss up likely to go to trump.
Corey Booker – an excellent candidate. Corey has not really caught fire as of yet but has a lot of upside. A really solid performance in this months debate may be the kickstart he needs. Corey should be expected to be a viable candidate late into the game and a person to watch. Would have a tough time against trump.
Amy Klobuchar – Not sure why she is sticking around. She is a quality candidate of substance from Minnesota who has not been able to build much of a following in neighbor Iowa. Unless lightning strikes, she will be out by November.
Andrew Yang – spot on message. No depth and I don’t think Democrats are willing to go this far left. He has shown good fund raising ability and continues to attract followers. Out after California.
Julián Castro – solid candidate. No doubt Presidential material. Doesn’t seem to have that fire in his belly. These debates may spell the end or the beginning. My guess is he will follow Klobuchar out before Christmas.
The group that didn’t make the debate but will campaign on includes Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard, Marianne Williamson and John Delaney. Any of this group could break through to the October debate.
Steyer will continue on as long as he wants to spend money. He has a message and a donor base but his primary message is beating trump. As discussed, in do not think this is a winning message.
Tulsi has following and a the ability to deliver her message. The anti war message doesn’t have much traction and given some of the other baggage she carries, I am not sure what will keep her in the race. If she doesn’t make he October debate it would be reasonable to see her exit.
Delaney has put a lot of time and effort into Iowa so I would expect him to stay in until then. Warren nailed him in the last debate and he will never get beyond her comments on his candidacy.
Bullock has a compelling story out of Montana and a very good television presence. He is a quality fellow who continues to complain about the DNC and the debates rather than talk about his vision for the future. Again, stating that you know how to work with Republicans to get things done can not be your compelling reason to run for the Democratic Party nomination. Not sure why he is still running, maybe he just has nothing else to do.
Michael Bennet is a very good candidate who would make a great President. Unfortunately for him “nice guys finish last” applies. Maybe he will do well in Iowa, maybe he will exceed expectations in New Hampshire we shall see. He really needs to make the debate stage in October to have a chance.
All the rest. The field should be fairly well set after the Iowa Caucuses and none of the this set of candidates will be there. No worries.
The wildcard for any Democrat candidate is what the Republicans will do. I have long thought that one of the primary reasons more Senators have not turned against trump is that no one wants a Pence Presidency. If someone of Nikki Haley’s caliber steps and runs against trump it is possible to see trumps Senate support collapse. Although, this Senate will never impeach him. Things to watch in this very interesting campaign season.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.