The State of the Campaigns

Here are some random thoughts on the current state of the Democratic nomination campaigns.

First, can we say that the Democratic National Committee has totally bleeped up the primary process so far? I think we can.

It’s not just Iowa. I’m genuinely sad that we’ve lost Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Julián Castro. Andrew Yang is in tonight’s debate (yes, there’s another debate), but he’s laying off staff, I understand, and will probably end his campaign soon. I am not sure what can be done to prevent nonwhite candidates from falling by the wayside before votes are cast. And yes, one nonwhite candidate did go the distance in 2008. But Booker, Harris, and Castro were all very respectable candidates who should still be in it, at least until after New Hampshire.

Part of the problem was that there were just too damn many candidates, and most of the early debates were hosted by blockheads who were more interested in generating controversy than informing the public. I’d like to see the DNC get tougher with the networks. The CNN debates were especially bad, to the point that CNN shouldn’t be allowed to host debates in 2024. But they probably will.

On the other hand, Tom Steyer is still going strong, even though FiveThirtyEight gives him a one-in-one-hundred chance of winning the nomination. Steyer is proof that the DNC’s criteria for qualifying for debates are seriously screwed up.

Pete Buttigieg has broken out of the pack and is now a co-front-runner. Buttigieg is strong on charisma but sorely lacking in experience; I think if he won the White House Washington, and the demands of the job, would eat him up and spit him out. Even so, he has claimed the status of Great White Anyone-But-Bernie Hope. However, his odds for the nomination currently are one in twenty-five, or just 4 percent, the nerds at FiveThirtyEight say.

Joe Biden has been coasting on name recognition and the assumption by members of the media and party establishment that he is far and away the most electable candidate in the field. However, by now even Chuck Todd might be rethinking that assumption. Dan Balz:

Biden was vice president to Barack Obama, the most popular Democrat in the party. He is a veteran of four decades in the United States Senate. He is liked — even loved — and respected by many people in the party. But Iowa suggests that that’s not enough. His candidacy has lacked a spark of enthusiasm, whether that’s defined as vision or energy or fight.

Biden’s best argument for himself was “electability.”

What did that get him? In Iowa, more than 60 percent of the people who participated in the caucuses said electability, rather than compatibility on issues, was what they were looking for in a candidate. Only a quarter of them backed Biden, according to the Edison Research entrance poll. In Iowa, not enough voters were buying what he was selling.

It’s not clear to me what Biden is selling, other than familiarity and comfort. He’s something like the political equivalent of your favorite old chenille bathrobe. Even I would be reasonably comfortable seeing Biden become POTUS. He’s a decent person, he knows how Washington works, and his ideas are mostly good. But I think people are looking for the hammer of Thor to run against Trump, not a bathrobe. On the other hand, it’s possible that if he does win South Carolina his campaign might have learned from mistakes, and his candidacy will make a comeback. He’s not out of it yet.

Biden is down to a 20 percent chance at the nomination. Pundits are still saying that Biden will win the South Carolina primary, and he very well might, but Sanders of all people has pulled slightly ahead of him in South Carolina by the nerds’ calculations.

I am genuinely sad that Liz Warren isn’t doing better, and I’m not entirely sure why that’s true. Of all the candidates, she’s the one I’d most want to be elected POTUS. I think she’d be great at it. But she’s not out of the contest yet.

Amy Klobuchar should have done better in Iowa; if she can’t get votes in the Midwest, I don’t see much hope for her. But her poor showing might have been an effect of the weirdness of the caucus. Perhaps she would have done better in a primary election. They seriously need to end the Iowa Caucus.

Sanders currently has a 46 percent chance at the nomination, the nerds say. The advantage of a Sanders administration is that he would not only shake up Washington but would finally break the grip of the old Clinton-Third Way contingent on the Democratic Party. This would be good for the party and the nation.

The wild card in all this is Bloomberg. I would not be surprised to see the anyone-but-Bernie vote gravitate to Bloomberg as soon as he has a decent showing in one of the primaries. Bloomberg is a Terminator. He’s relentless and has more money than God to spend on his campaign. I still have massive doubts he could gain nonwhite votes, though. We’ll see.

Bloomberg is not in tonight’s debate in New Hampshire, hosted by ABC. The participants will be Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer, Warren, and Yang. There are predictions everyone will gang up on Buttigieg. I don’t know, though; this year it seems that attacking other candidates backfires more often than not. My only prediction is that Biden might try to be more aggressive, to show some “spark.”

Stuff to Read

Maggie Koerth at FiveThirtyEight, You’ll Never Know Which Candidate Is Electable

Just Published at WaPo: Secret Service has paid rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at Trump’s properties

Greg Sargent, Here’s a new abuse of power by Trump that should alarm you

12 thoughts on “The State of the Campaigns

    • Buttigieg is all charisma, ego, and ambition, I fear. I don't think he's a bad person, but he's not ready for the White House and he's certainly not a person burning to reform the system. 

      • Pete is too inexperienced and looks too inexperienced. He's also too transparently calculating.

        If we're going to go "safe" and "centrist", Bloomberg probably makes more sense. He's an experienced, competent and not-too-ideological technocrat, he understands Trump, and has the means to make formidable use of media. Since one just endorsed him, it looks like he could also generate interest among some Republicans. I'm not sure we can trust him to give us our democracy back, but that's just me.

        Joe is a nice guy, but he was never that good a candidate. Add to that his now antiquated politics and elderly appearance. Amy Klobuchar seems like a fine and sensible person, but she's kind of a snooze.


  1. As the field continues to shrink, I wonder where the support will shift. As you pointed out, Yang is eying the exit. Bloomberg has no reason to quit and he may be cutting into Biden's 'moderate' slice of the Democratic electorate. Buttigieg is in it for a while – he may also be slicing into the segment of Democrats who want change without any pain. Mayor Pete is charming but his policies are status-quo. I don't think he's going to turn  the Iowa win into a streak. Liz was and is my favorite – she has the advantage over Bernie that the label 'socialist' can't be hung around her neck. That would have been an advantage in the general but we are in the primaries. Liz and Bernie are compatible in their attitude toward corruption, income inequality, regulating the  banks and Wall Street, health care and student debt. (I didn't say identical, but neither Biden or Mayor Pete is anywhere close on any of those and everyone else is either a vanity candidate with deep pockets are they are on the way out. When the primaries get to FL, I will go for Liz if she's got a shot, or switch to Bernie if a protest vote for Liz would help Biden. 

    Regarding non-white male candidates… I don't care. Liz is my favorite for her fierce defense of the regular consumer and the intense intellect behind her policy proposals. Her gender never factored in. Mayor Pete isn't getting a huge blowback for his sexual orientation – which is how it should be. Obama was a better candidate than HRC – I liked the historical significance but if HRC had been the better candidate, she'd have gotten my vote. It's time to outgrow identity politics.

    OT – There is an incalculable point when wingnuttery loses its charm with voters previously entranced. This was true with Joe McCarthy who was an idol… until he wasn't. Nixon was defended and popular (hero of the silent majority) until the bubble burst. Trump has the vicious, vindictive nature of both of them and Trump has the cult following they had. What will it take to strip away the veil so voters see Trump for what he is and does instead of the fake image in the worst reality show ever inflicted on people who can't turn it off until November?

  2. After having read Sargent's article, all I can say is that the RepubliKKKLANS neutered themselves so they can be White House eunuchs!

    They're the ones who boosted (the fat orange ) t-LUMP from being an atrocious presuDUNCE, to this country having a (tiny)DICK-tator! 

    You know when RepubliKKKLANS will care about abuse of power, and obstructing Congress again?  

    If, IF, we ever have a Democratic POTUS, that's when!


  3. As for the campaigns, I can't take it anymore.


    I'm afraid that our cowardly, compliant, and complicit MSM will not keep at least a daily eye on what t-LUMP's doing to destroy what's left of representatinpve democracy in this country, and instead, focus on the fucking "horse race!"  ESPECIALLY if t-LUMP starts to focus his violent MAGA thugs on certain reporters/papers/magazines/sites, etc…

    And then, after months of all of this horse race horseshit, I'm not sure we'll even HAVE  an election this fall!

    I can see, sometime near election day, t-LUMP asking Russia to create some sort of massive military distraction.  One big enough for our (tiny)DICK-tator to "postpone" election day "indefinitely" (meaning, permanently!).

    Who's going to stop him?  The Senate? 


    Pray for a coup.

  4. I share with you my disappointment that EW is fading, and I don't know why either.

    Debates with more than two people on the stage are pointless. It's a hopelessly stupid format that too many people are invested in. I much prefer an idea I read somewhere a few months ago, where some Wise Person in the Media would put questions forward to each of the candidates, and they would be able to prepare for this ahead of time. It's kind of a long form interview, where there could be follow-on questions. Candidates would be able to give decent answer instead of tiny sound bites. It would only work if the interviewer was sharp and willing to call BS.

    That said I am eager for Mike Bloomberg to get on the debate stage, to take the measure of the guy. I suspect Biden's popularity is largely due to the black vote, something Bloomberg lacks. I would so enjoy seeing Biden and Bloomberg spar. Something has to wake up sleepy Joe.

     Michelle Goldberg, The Harrowing Chaos of the Democratic Primary

  5. Am beginning to be curious about seeing Bloomberg in a debate. Not so sure we don't need what he brings to the table:
         (1) He has money to burn, and his ads are great.
         (2) He triggers Trump big-time. I can see him goading Trump into a "Damn right, I               ordered the Code Red" moment.
         (3) He is focused entirely on beating Trump.

    • I remember the time Jerry Brown ran for governor in California (2011). He was up against Meg Whitman, a multi-millionaire, who spent profusely. Brown laid low till the last minute, and spent a tiny amount on ads, that (I thought) were devastating. Besides his enormous name recognition and track record, he knew the best people in Hollywood to craft the most amazing ads. He won, spending a fraction of his opponent.

      I just hope Mike B is likewise well connected with the creative types, and doesn't squander his shot.

  6. My hypothesis for Liz Warren's failure to launch is she's too much the meritocratic type. She has a plan for everything, which is another way of saying she's a technocrat who's done her homework. That appeals to suburban professionals for the most part. At first she tried to triangulate between the suburbs and more working class voters by claiming to be all in with some of Bernie's programs. When she changed her mind on healthcare it shattered the illusion and made her seem inauthentic.

    Just to add some perspective and maybe cheer everyone up a bit, here's a peek behind the reality show curtain at Reality Show Mussolini:


  7. If I didn't have my Quan yin and my mini stuffed bears in front of my TV so I can express my emotions freely to them, I fear I would either destroy my TV or go crazy.  I know everyone feels they are thinking logically including me so that is why I just have  to vent and then be quiet.  If I acted on my emotions it wouldn't be pretty and they would probably evict me from my apartment. 

    Anyway, I am feeling more energetic this AM so will tell y'all what I am thinking and feeling.  It's good therapy.  It seems that Amy Klobuchar is getting very  popular but personally I  don't like her.  She  boasts too much about her "winning" that she sounds like a female trump.  I like Bernie but am concerned that he had a heart attack recently and he really should take a rest and reduce the stress in his life.  I also like Biden but he seems to stumble over his words a lot and that is either a lack of  self-confidence or a symptom of a failing mental status.  Elizabeth Warren is full of good ideas and spirit but she seems a little flightly to me.  I feel Mayor Pete is being underestimated.  True, he does not have a lot of political or governing experience.  However, in my book, life experience counts.  One quality he  does have is courage.  He is not afraid of Trump and would be able to withstand any attacks from him.  True, he is still young and has a lot to learn but in my humble opinion, the most important thing is to beat Trump.  Mayor Pete is not arrogant but he will not take any BS from anyone.  I like that.  So far, Trump has not labeled him with any of his "cute" nicknames.  I think Trump would be thrown off balance and not  know how to deal with a married gay man for an  opponent. 

    Perhaps with all that has happened, the voters will be fed up with Trump and throw him out.  However, my "life experience" tells me that sometimes people's opinions cannot be accounted for so the Dems need to nominate the one candidate that can stand up  to Trump's abuse.  I'm sure he feels like he can do anything and get away with it.  We have to say to him: " Enough!! We're sick of you".  I will vote for anyone but Trump.  It has to be better.

  8. Warren is far from out of it. Acting like Iowa and New Hampshire make the eventual outcome knowable is just marketing at this point.

    Super Tuesday awards 1/3 of all democratic delagates.  Speculating on who gts the nomination starts being meaningful now.

    NYtimes has current count:

    Buttigieg 13

    Sanders 12

    Warren 6

    Biden 5

    Klobucher 1


    NH 24, NV 36 and SC 54 delegates will be (mostly) decided. Going into Super Tuesday it could be:

    Buttigieg  28  delegates (13 + 4 + 6 + 5)

    Sanders  46 delegates (12 + 9 + 13 + 12)

    Warren  41 delegates (6 + 8 + 11 + 16)

    Biden   34   delegates (5 + 3 + 5 + 21)

    Klobucher  delegates2 (1 + 0 + 1 + 0)

    California (415 delegates) and Texas (228 delegates) on Super Tuesday will change this substantially.  as will the other 640+ delegates assigned that day. The following 2 weeks have another 915.

Comments are closed.