Friday, June 14, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

The twenty who are debating in two weeks.

Update: And here are the lineups. Warren is the only front-runner going on the first night, Wednesday, June 26th.

Her expectations might be higher than usual considering her competition.  She'll certainly be subjected to a few extra potshots from the trailers.  But I'll be more focused on Thursday evening's cage match.

There's been a shuffle in my front-runners this week: Biden is still slumping but remains the leader, barely holding on atop the heap. Warren has effectively pulled in to a second-place tie with Bernie. Mayor Pete holds down fourth, and Kamala, Beto, and Cory Booker round out the top seven.

1. Joe Biden  momentum: slipping

Another lousy week for Gramps.  But some pundits are beginning to muse that his gaffes are just part of his charm, and that they may even be his Teflon shield.

Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner, has had a peculiar couple of weeks: The points on which he’s been historically weak—women’s rights, mass incarceration, and plagiarism—have surfaced again, as weak points are bound to do, but if his responses on all three fronts have muddied his record, they haven’t done much damage to his vaunted “electability.” He’s reiterated his support (before retracting it) of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds like Medicaid from paying for abortions. He’s defended his 1994 crime bill, which contributed (many believe) to America’s mass incarceration problem. Asked at a recent event whether he’d “commit to reducing the prison population by half,” Biden claimed that the woman asking -- whom he addressed as “kiddo” -- had been “conditioned” to say it was a bad bill. But “we should not be putting people in prison for drug offenses,” he added, omitting that he was one of the architects of the war on drugs and had specifically criticized then-President Bush’s plan because it didn’t “hold every drug user accountable.” Finally, his campaign was found to have plagiarized some policy language

Go read the whole thing, please.

Any politician with a record as long as Biden’s has to tell this “evolution” story convincingly and well. Biden’s success on this score is spotty. His appeal despite that makes it interesting. In a weird way, his frankness about his self-contradictions --“I make no apologies for my last position. I make no apologies for what I’m about to say,” he said Thursday as he reversed himself on the Hyde Amendment -- bestows upon him a kind of flexibility that allows him to claim (for example) that he won’t accept donations from corporate lobbyists, and then kick off his campaign with a fundraiser held at the home of the head of lobbying for Comcast

At some point you'd like to think that Democrats are smarter than Republicans; that they will wise up to this hypocrisy and abandon the flip-flopper for someone who tells the truth, at least more often than not.  Jemelle Hill isn't convinced; she sees African American voters doing the same thing that far too much of the rest of the Donkey base is doing.

When it comes to looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, many black voters aren’t focused on race, gender or who can out-progessive who. They’re focused on ousting Donald Trump from the White House.

That’s according to the Los Angeles Times, which notes that while the more progressive nature and strong black base of the Democratic Party could have one thinking the next Democratic nominee will be a person of color or a woman, many black voters are setting aside thoughts of racial or gender pride to focus on who can best beat Trump at the polls.

“They are so sick and tired of being sick and tired of Trump, there’s this almost unconscious feeling they’re going to go with the candidate that is more likely to beat him,” Ron Lester, a Washington pollster who studies the attitudes of black voters, told the Times.

For many, Lester added, “that is probably a white male,” the Times reports, “given their deep-seated belief ‘that America is still a very racist place and a very misogynistic place and that a candidate who doesn’t get any white votes is probably going to lose.’”

In the Update posted two weeks ago, I led with this electability fallacy.  Markos Moulitsas blogged about it this week.

We are a polarized nation, and as such, the actual candidates themselves hardly matter anymore. We could nominate a mealworm, and it would get numbers similar to these, according to the latest general-election matchup poll by Quinnipiac University:

Biden 53, Trump 40

Sanders 51, Trump 42

Harris 49, Trump 41

Warren 49, Trump 42

Buttigieg 47, Trump 42

Booker 47, Trump 42

The key here isn’t the Democrats’ number (those are mostly driven by name recognition): it’s Trump’s. He’s maxed out at 42%. And with universal name recognition and a polarized electorate, how does he rise above that?


Bottom line? Support whoever you like, and not because you think someone will or won’t run better against Trump.

Now you're welcome to grumble that "itzerly" like Kuffner, or that polling can be akin to toilet paper, as I have repeatedly in the past.  But for the love of Dishrag, make a choice on the basis of something that appeals to you about a candidate or their policies and not a nebulous, poorly defined adverb.

Every single Democrat running for President in 2020 that is currently leading the field -- the top seven of 24 -- ought to easily beat Trump.  Except maybe for Joe Biden.  We'll see how he comports himself in these upcoming debates.

2. (tie) Elizabeth Warren  momentum: surging

(I was tempted to list Bernie here due to my bias, so I'm just trying to be fair.)

Warren showed up second in a handful of polls, national and state, released this week, for which she gets the credit as the candidate on the biggest roll.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has pulled ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., thus far her chief rival for the mantle of progressive alternative in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, in a trio of recent polls.

The first result comes from a recent Economist/YouGov poll, which finds Warren ahead of Sanders by a margin of 16 percent to 12 percent nationwide. Thus far, Warren has been trailing Sanders in national polls as both candidates grapple for the same base of progressive voters. If this trend breaks, it will be a sign that Warren could be winning over that key demographic. Both candidates still continue to trail former Vice President Joe Biden.

A second poll — this one involving an early nominating state rather than the nation as a whole — also showed Warren pulling ahead of Sanders. In the Monmouth poll of Democrats likely to participate in the Nevada caucuses, which is scheduled to follow the Iowa causes and New Hampshire primary next year, Biden is leads with 36 percent, followed by Warren with 19 percent and Sanders with 13 percent.

And that was not the only good news for Warren. A new UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll of California found Biden again ahead with 22 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, but he was closely followed by Warren with 18 percent and Sanders with 17 percent.

To be clear, these are not the first polls to show that Warren is steadily making gains over other Democratic candidates. Earlier this week, a survey for the Iowa caucus conducted by the Des Moines Register and CNN found that Warren had 15 percent support, behind Biden at 24 percent and Sanders at 16 percent and ahead of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 14 percent. This was a major sign of progress for Warren, who during a survey by the same group in March was only at 9 percent in Iowa.

She won Kos' straw poll on Tuesday, first time Bernie's lost that in a long while.

Elizabeth Warren won the inaugural 2019 Daily Kos straw poll back in early January. Two weeks later, riding the high of her announcement speech, Kamala Harris won the poll. But once Bernie Sanders announced, it’s been all him, since way back in February. But this week, in convincing manner, Elizabeth Warren has retaken the top spot.


The straw poll and public polling are in agreement. There are five serious contenders in this race: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris. All the other 19 declared candidates combined can only muster around 8% of the vote. ...

Warren is riding on a high after her viral moment from the MSNBC town hall, the one where she made mincemeat of Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendment. Her rallies are drawing thousands. Her “I’ve got a plan for that” catchphrase is landing. And yes, they may both be white women, but no one is comparing her to Hillary Clinton anymore.

In a comment yesterday on the site, community member Fatherflot wrote, “Fair or not, (Warren) needed to create a clear identity for herself that drew a sharp distinction with Hillary. Instead of the aloof insider-technocrat, she is promoting herself as a kind of ‘Mary Poppins’ figure -- the cheerful, exuberant, uber-competent woman who simply gets things done and makes everyone feel included and proud.”

I’ve got to say, 'Mary Poppins figure' is really landing with me. I think it nails her vibe, and why we’re seeing a surprising dearth of “Is she likable?” stories and memes about her.

The Daily Kos denizens don't see the differences between Liz and Bernie, and remain of the "he's not a Democrat" persuasion anyway.  This collides with the view of the Berners I hang out with, not to mention my own.  Anyway, the progressive wing -- comprised loosely of Sandernistas and Warrenites -- is most certainly ascendant right now.

2. (tie) Bernie Sanders  momentum: holding

The Week offered a theory about Bernie's speech defining democratic socialism.

On Wednesday, Sanders gave a lengthy speech outlining what he means when he says he's a "democratic socialist." It was chock full of historical references and mentions of President Trump, but, as some Sanders supporters and Democratic strategists suggest, may have been more aimed at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Sanders and Warren are often seen as progressive equivalents, except for when Warren declares herself a capitalist and Sanders sticks to socialism. Despite that ideological difference, Warren has seemingly been the only Democratic presidential candidate gaining steam over the past few weeks, and it has largely come at Sanders' expense. In fact, an Economist/YouGov poll released just an hour before Sanders' Wednesday speech showed Warren had 19 percent support in the 2020 race over Sanders' 15 percent. Sanders had been at a solid second place to former Vice President Joe Biden before that.

This the first major poll where Warren has managed to pass Sanders, and to Democratic strategist and former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki, it's just what Sanders was worried about. His Wednesday speech "is a pretty clear indication he is feeling the heat from Elizabeth Warren's recent momentum among progressive voters," Psaki told The New York Times, calling it Sanders' "attempt to reclaim the anti-capitalist mantle he ran on in 2016."

Even before Wednesday's poll debuted, it didn't seem Warren was too worried about whatever socialist rhetoric Sanders had cooked up. When The Atlantic asked her about Sanders' forthcoming speech the other day, she laughed

Vox thought it was about Trump.  I just thought it was about something that most people don't really understand, despite it being defined repeatedly over the course of the past year.

Republicans salivate, centrist Dems fret, but the truth is that the disinformation campaign, i.e. fear-mongering, Red-baiting, scape-goating etc. will happen no matter what.  Bernie is simply being honest and owning it.

4. Pete Buttigieg  momentum: gradually rising

Mayor Pete's constituency as reflected in most polls is right around ten percent.  He's raising money, staffing up in Iowa -- rising in the polling there -- and continuing to slowly grow his support.  I continue to hold that his appeal will be capped by a variety of factors and that the best he can expect is a Cabinet position, not even VP, but hey, I've been wrong before.  His debate performance alongside Biden, Sanders, and Harris will either significantly add to his momentum, or slow his roll.

5. Kamala Harris  momentum: holding

Like Buttigieg, there was no significant positive or negative development for her this past week, unless you count her slipping to fourth in recent polling of California.

The poll serves as a blunt warning for Harris, who is banking on a surge of home-state support after a strong showing during the back half of early voting -- in neighboring Nevada, and South Carolina, where African American voters form a decisive bloc. Organizationally, Harris is working to make up ground with Warren in Iowa, where the Massachusetts senator has built a formidable team. Harris is planning a hiring spree there that calls for bringing in 65 people.

In the California poll, Harris performed well across ethnic and demographic groups, and voters there consistently selected her as their second choice. But similar to her standing in the early states and nationally, she hasn’t caught fire with likely voters in the first few months of the race.

Harris just seems to be getting out-worked, or out-hustled, or outdone in some form or fashion every time I have taken a deep look lately.  Is it her emerging reality that she winds up as nothing better than someone's veep?  Her debate performance will either cement or break that impression.

6. (tie) Beto O'Rourke  momentum: holding

Beto became the first to slap Biden around.

“You cannot go back to the end of the Obama administration and think that that’s good enough,” the former Texas congressman said at the end of a lengthy interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “As much of a horror show as Trump has been -- his racism, the disaster of his foreign policy, his punishment of farmers and workers here in this country -- we had real problems before Donald Trump became president.”

Asked, “Is Joe Biden a return to the past?” O’Rourke answered bluntly, "He is. And that cannot be who we are going forward. We’ve got to be bigger, we’ve got to be bolder. We have to set a much higher mark and be relentless in pursuing that.”

That's rougher than I recall him ever being on Ted Cruz.

I'm ranking him tied for sixth not only for that, but for last week's Texas poll showing him second to Creepy Uncle Joe in the Lone Star delegate chase.  Despite the fact 60% of those surveyed in the same poll want him to drop out of the run for the White House and take on John Cornyn (something I still anticipate he will do).  If/when Biden deflates -- and should Beto not take everybody's advice and actually win our Super Tuesday primary next March -- he sits pretty for at least another month or so of presidential primaries and caucuses.

6. (tie) Cory Booker  momentum: slightly rising

Booker has twelve signatories on his reparations legislation, including several of his competitors for the Dem nom.

The bill, officially titled “HR 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act (pdf),” would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery on African Americans and suggest proposals that would help repay descendants of slaves for the costs of centuries of racial discrimination.

The bill’s 12 co-sponsors are U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

Along with Warren, Booker was reviewed favorably at last weekend's Iowa cattle call, the Cedar Rapids Hall of Fame dinner.

In the early state where field organization has traditionally mattered the most, Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have quietly and patiently concentrated their resources toward building grassroots machines designed to power them on caucus night.

It showed here on Sunday as 19 Democratic presidential candidates converged for the first time in one venue to make their five-minute pitch to the party faithful. The gathering, designed to honor Iowa Democrats in a Hall of Fame dinner, offered the first glimpse of a sprawling Democratic primary field — and the organizational strength and enthusiasm each campaign could muster.

Booker and Warren weren’t the only presidential hopefuls to stand out. The senator from next door in Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar, also put on a show of force both inside and outside the Cedar Rapids Doubletree Hilton Hotel, where the dinner took place.

Biden was not in the state.  Sanders marched outside with the McDonald's workers, who were on strike for a $15 minimum wage.  Eighth place in my rankings would probably go to Klobuchar.

And FWIW, the WaPo's Pundit Power Ranking has Liz in a tie with Joe for first, Bernie third, Buttigieg and Harris tied for fourth, Klobuchar in sixth, Booker in seventh, and Beto in eighth.

Gonna wrap this week with Howard Schultz and Howie Hawkins.

Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz told campaign staff that he is making significant cuts to his team, as he suspends his political plans for the summer.

Schultz came into the office Wednesday for the first time in months and met with the staff, according to a person in the room. He announced that he was letting everyone go except those in senior leadership positions, adding he would not make a decision about running for president until after Labor Day.

Shortly thereafter, Schultz sent an email to supporters, saying that medical reasons had taken him out of commission for months, and he still needed time to recover.

“While I was in Arizona, I unfortunately experienced acute back pain that required me to cut my travels short,” he wrote. “Over the following two months, I underwent three separate back surgeries. Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that.”

Go play lots of dodgeball, Howard.

And finally:

No comments: