Friday, May 24, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

With a month to go before the first debate, 19 Democrats have qualified at the minimum standards for the two-night contest, including Marianne Williamson but not Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Mike Gravel, Wayne Messam, or Seth Moulton (yet).

Update: And Jay Inslee makes 20.

However ... it's possible that the qualifiers may need to do better than the minimum, and if that's the case we may only see these twelve on the stage.

Note that list leaves off Kirsten Gillibrand, among other high-profilers.  I don't think that will happen, but there might be a tiebreaker for the twentieth spot.


Democrats getting at least 2 percent support in the polling average will be randomly and evenly split between the two nights, which will each feature 10 candidates, according to the formula obtained by POLITICO. Candidates below that threshold will also be evenly and randomly divided between the two debate lineups.

"The final list of debate participants, after any tie-breaking procedure is executed if necessary,  will be divided into two groups: candidates with a polling average of 2% or above, and those with a polling average below 2%," the rule reads. "Both groups will be randomly divided between Wednesday night (June 26) and Thursday night (June 27), thus ensuring that both groups are represented fairly on each night."

The rule will not keep any two candidates from appearing onstage together. But it will prevent random chance from loading one night with polling leaders and the other night with less well-known presidential candidates. ...

Eight candidates have a polling average at or above 2 percent right now: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. With the newly announced rule, four would be guaranteed to appear on the first night, and four would be guaranteed to appear on the second night.

Last week I culled out the top six: Biden, Bernie, Warren, and in a tie for fourth, Kamala, Mayor Pete, and Beto.  You can scratch our Texas boy Bob off your scorecard; he rolled out his reboot this past week and promptly faceplanted.

Democratic presidential primary candidate Beto O'Rourke went on CNN for a town hall Tuesday evening in an attempt to breathe some life into his struggling campaign, but all he did was earn the ire of progressives after delivering a less than ambitious answer to a question on Medicare for All.

O'Rourke declined to endorse the popular policy by host Dana Bash as a follow up to a question from the audience on drug prices. Bash asked the former Texas congressman why he supports the Medicare for America plan put forth by Democratic Reps. Rose DeLauro (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) instead of Medicare for All.

"They don't have time for us to get to the perfect solution," O'Rourke said, referring to audience member Diane Kolmer, whose struggles with the disease multliple sclerosis prompted her to ask about healthcare, and a man O'Rourke claimed to have met named "Joey."

"If we were to start from scratch, maybe we would start with a single payer," added O'Rourke, "but we've got to work with the system that we have here today."

That's a deal-breaker for me, and perhaps for 70% of Americans.  And that was before people tuned out of Beto's town hall in droves.  I don't see where he has any place to go except back home and run for the Senate against Cornyn.

In other online prognosticator rankings, Cillizza/Enten at CNN are, IMO, a little off.

Markos and Nate Silver (scroll down for his tiers) agree with me (I posted ahead of them).  This may not be a good thing, as both are approaching worthlessness in my view.  Despite this, I can't see any reason to adjust my top five.

1. Joe Biden

Though he is finally starting to slip in terms of polling numbers, he maintains a lead.  How large and how solid is still dependent on polling methodology.

Let's do our first check-in with's round-up.

At a campaign rally in Philadelphia last weekend, Biden defended his bipartisan outlook on governance, pitching his experience of working across the aisle and arguing that it isn’t too late to unite Americans across the political spectrum.

Biden brought in over $2 million through a pair of fundraising events in Miami and Orlando this week, showing a willingness to engage with big-money donors from which much of the Democratic field has shied away.

The former vice president’s campaign took part in a back and forth with North Korea after an opinion piece that was posted on the website of KCNA -- the North Korean news agency -- said Biden was “misbehaving” and criticized him as someone “who likes to stick his nose into other people’s business and is a poor excuse for a politician.”

Biden’s campaign responded, saying that “it’s no surprise North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House.”

The Norks also called Biden "an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being" and a "fool of low IQ".   I was disappointed they did not recycle 'dotard'.  Say this for them: they have a command of the English language for insults that far exceeds our Stable Genius president.

2. Bernie Sanders

The Vermont senator rolled out a comprehensive education plan that would halt federal funding for charter school expansion, set a teacher pay floor at $60,000, and provide universal free lunches, among other investments.

At a South Carolina event announcing the plan, Sanders drew a connection between education reform and social injustice, noting that changes to public education in recent decades have disproportionately affected African Americans and increased school segregation.

Bernie is also attending the Walmart shareholders meeting week after next.

The massive retail chain has been a focus of Sanders' pro-worker push — he even introduced the pointedly titled Stop WALMART Act to Congress last November. Now, the 2020 candidate is arguing that hourly Walmart workers should have a guaranteed seat at the shareholders meeting each year, and he'll make his case right to those shareholders' faces, The Washington Post reports.

Walmart's annual meeting of "a dozen wealthy executives from companies like McDonald's and NBCUniversal" is coming up on June 5 in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Post writes. That's where Sanders will tell shareholders that "if hourly workers at Walmart were well represented on its board, I doubt you would see the CEO of Walmart making over a thousand times more than its average worker," he tells the Post. Walmart pharmacy technician Cat Davis introduced the proposal, which reads that "hourly associates can guide a more fair, inclusive, and equitable corporate ecosystem that bridges differences," and invited Sanders to deliver the message.

He also joined McDonald's workers yesterday by video as the fast food giant held its corporate meeting in Dallas ...

... as did most of the top ten Democratic contenders, some who marched on picket lines in other states, some who Tweeted support.

3. Elizabeth Warren

Warren's (latest issues proposal), a platform aimed at protecting women’s reproductive rights ... would “block states from interfering in the ability of a health care provider to provide medical care, including abortion services,” according to her policy rollout.

The senator had a viral moment when she responded to a Twitter user who asked her for relationship advice. “DM me and let’s figure this out,” Warren replied.

The senator apparently went on to call a number of Twitter users asking for advice. “Guess who’s crying and shaking and just talked to Elizabeth Warren on the phone?!?!?” one user tweeted.

Liz is methodically building support, and her steady polling rise reflects it.

Warren, who had been lagging with just 4 percent in a March Quinnipiac University poll, reached 13 percent in their latest survey, nearly matching Sen. Bernie Sanders at 16 percent with Biden in the lead at 35 percent.

Looking across multiple polls paints a clearer picture of Biden’s lead -- but also the Massachusetts senator’s rise. The former vice president is averaging nearly 40 percent in national primary polls, coming down a bit after a surge upon announcing his own candidacy this month. Sanders has seen his support drop lately while Warren, the rising bronze bar in this Real Clear Politics’ chart of 2020 polling averages over the last several months, has seen a steady uptick.

Link to current RCP shows Biden's lead still shrinking today.

I'll putt down a marker here.  After the first debate, and of my top four today -- Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg -- someone(s) will emerge with momentum and someone(s) will lose it.  Uncle Joe could commit a gaffe or show his age; so for that matter could Bernie.  Liz and Mayor Pete could, and should, both shine.  Kamala Harris really needs a breakthrough moment, because Warren is beginning to erode her demographic advantage.  It's still difficult for me to fathom that the race may quickly winnow to three white men and one white woman.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

4. Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg garnered headlines for his performance in a Fox News town hall last weekend, renewing the debate over whether it is beneficial for Democratic candidates to appear on the news network that is often criticized for its conservative bent.

During his appearance, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, took aim at a pair of the network’s right-wing commentators, arguing that Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were “not always there in good faith,” pointing specifically to their views on the ongoing immigration policy debate.

After stops in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., this week, Buttigieg will campaign over the weekend in New Hampshire, with events in Londonderry, Exeter and Keene on Friday and Saturday.

Mayor Pete has loyal fans, much like Bernie's (let's not be calling nobody's a cult, okay?).  I won't ever be one, but at this point and almost no matter what else happens in this race, he will remain a factor.  There is a subculture of weirdo centrists still criticizing going on Fox, which makes even less sense than it did when they were on Bernie's ass about it.

5. Kamala Harris

She's flailing, which makes the CNN third-place rank all the more puzzling.  Their own snapshot gives me no reason to believe them as to why she should be ahead of Warren or Buttigieg.

Just like O'Rourke, the junior senator from California seems intent on rebooting her campaign. Harris has stalled in recent months as her left-leaning campaign has run into a classic clown-car problem: Almost everyone in the race is running left. She now seems to be trying to split the difference between those on the left (Sanders and Warren) and those closer to the center (Biden). Can this "Goldilocks" campaign work? Or is Harris going to just be this year's version of Marco Rubio (i.e. trying to satisfy all and satisfying few)?

Still without policy positions posted to her website, she's free to flip-flop on things.  I don't see this as a winning strategy, but YMMV.

Here's a few links.

-- Who White Democrats Vote For In 2020 Could Be Shaped By Why They Think Clinton Lost

Primary efforts:

-- The Candidates Who Are Going All In On Iowa Or New Hampshire

-- Inside the 2020 Democrats’ survival strategies

Bernie Sanders must win New Hampshire. Julián Castro is letting it all ride on Nevada. South Carolina is essential to Cory Booker’s chances.

The 23 candidates chasing the Democratic presidential nomination are piling up events and plowing resources into the four early-nominating states, telegraphing which states they’re prioritizing and which ones they’re writing off.

^^Your best and deepest dive.

Finally ...

Hundreds of unheralded hopefuls file paperwork every four years to vie for the biggest prize in electoral politics

According to Ballotpedia, a website that tracks the daily entry of FEC records, of the 713 candidates who had filed by (May 3), 241 filed as Democrats, 89 as Republicans, 25 as Libertarians and 14 as Green candidates. A great many others self-identified as nonpartisan, independent, or listed no party affiliation.


James Peppe of Montgomery, Texas filed in February as a Republican challenger to President Trump. According to the FEC filings, he’s received $5,665 in total campaign receipts, including $2,865 in individual contributions, $2,800 in candidate contributions. The campaign is also the beneficiary of $20,000 worth of loans made by the candidate.

A licensed financial investment advisor, Peppe said on his campaign website that he’s “a regular American, NOT a professional politician or wealthy celebrity.”

A brief stint working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., shortly after graduating from Yale in 1988, whet his appetite for politics. He ran unsuccessfully in 1992 for a seat in the Minnesota state Senate, retreating after that loss to a business career and steering clear of politics.

But Donald Trump’s election triggered him to get back involved in the political game. As he notes on his website:

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 awoke Peppe’s passion for service with a flood of mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was excited to witness the upending of the political establishment that for so long had promised so much to so many and delivered so little. On the other hand, he was stunned and disappointed to see America invest its hopes in a self-promoting individual of such questionable character as Trump.

In a campaign appearance earlier this month at Keene State College in New Hampshire, Peppe predicted he would shock the world by beating Trump in the GOP primaries, and then deliver a “50-state landslide” in the general election. That’s tall talk for a virtually unknown personality with 591 Twitter followers.

Best of luck to Mr. Peppe.

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