Sorry for the lack of keeping up on this. It’s been busy. Since the last time we updated our rankings, we’ve seen the start of the football season, school begin, and an impeachment inquiry of the President. Our attention has been pretty much elsewhere, but something tells us that we aren’t the only ones.
Why? Because there has been a stunning lack of movement (bar one candidate) from when the race started. Much of this is because most Dem voters are generally happy with one of the top three candidates, but the large bulk of it may be because there is so much going on with Trump that it just sucks up all the oxygen in the room, leaving little news coverage for the other candidates. Nonetheless, we move on. We’re less than 100 days to the Iowa Caucuses, and in the last fundraising quarter of the year. Full steam ahead!
Unlike CNN, the Washington Post and others who create “Power Rankings” (which are ridiculous on their face– their methodology is more guessing and bias than anything objective), we’re adopting a Tier system, where candidates are within particular groupings. Candidates can move between tiers but the candidates within tiers are largely tied.
Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Warren has done an amazing job building up a first class grassroots organization; something we can’t say for any of the other first time candidates. The energy around her is electric and the the trend line has been a slow and steady upward trajectory; a great sign for a growing campaign. Today, for the first time, RealClearPolitics’ poll aggregator had her as the leader in the race.
It should be pointed that Warren has taken the lead not out of Biden losing voters– his numbers are roughly still the same. Its that voters for other candidates are coming around to her, which is a sign of a potential landslide of support, especially if Bernie leaves the race (more on that below). Biden still has the middle lane largely to himself, but if he can’t expand any more from where he is at, 25% may in fact be a ceiling instead of a floor. He’s still the only candidate who can survive losing the first two (IA and NH) and stay in it (because he’s routing in SC right now). But if his support in South Carolina drops, it’s Warren’s to lose.
Bernie Sanders. Bernie took a break from his campaign after a heart attack this week. People like Bernie and wish him well, but its looking more and more that his time has passed. If he continues to hemorrhage support to Warren, his campaign may never bounce back. He still commands a solid 15-20% of support who will stick by him, but as an already known quantity, its growing unlikelier he can move upward without compromising his positions, which is something he just is not going to do.
Buttigieg is the only other candidate consistently polling at or near double digits, or even upper single digits. He’s built a solid campaign for a mayor with no national network even a year ago, but he hasn’t been able to break into the upper tiers. Part of it is because his base of middle income, white, college-educated midwestern voters are also split among many of the other candidates, but mostly, its because he lacks appeal outside of that group. He’s the kind of candidate where four or eight years from now, after having his name out there for this election, could resonate for office down the road.
Kamala Harris, Beto O’rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang. These candidates are seriously ready for “also-ran” status. None of them have the ability to move upward without any other candidate above them collapsing. Yang is the only candidate who can look at this and say that they’ve done a good job to get to this point. As for the others:
- Harris has collapsed ever since her high point attacking Biden at the first debate. Under the glare of greater scrutiny, she appeared more waffling and disconnected to grassroots organizers. She recently revamped her campaign staff; this is always a sign that the campaign flailing.
- Beto has been directionless since getting into the race. He showed some attributes that demonstrated his leadership ability following the El Paso shooting, but he also failed to show restraint in taking positions that most primary voters aren’t as absolute about.
- Klobuchar is a candidate lacking a message. For many, she demonstrates the right temperament for the job and can deliver a strong line, but can you really point to any particular issue she stands out on? She’s staked out a position that is essentially “Biden, just younger” but so long as those voters stay with Joe, she’s not going anywhere.
Of the four, Klobuchar has the best chance to surprise in Iowa, but that’s only because she is from a neighboring state, and its likelier that Biden loses supporters more than Warren or Bernie would (which would likelier be split between Beto, Buttigeig and Harris).
Everyone else. At this point, any candidate not listed above has little or no chance to make any future impact on the race. Candidates like Steve Bullock, who have the opportunity to run for Senate, or Tom Steyer, who can focus efforts on issues like Impeachment, are better off focusing their efforts elsewhere.
So that’s where we are today. Disagree? Let us know– send us an email at teampurplemn@Gmail.com or leave a comment.