Wednesday, January 16, 2019

BTRTN 2020 Vision: The Democratic Field by the Numbers

Tom kicks off our new monthly feature on the 2020 Elections, "BTRTN 2020 Vision."

With this article we launch a new feature called “BTRTN 2020 Vision,” in which we will review the 2020 elections on a monthly basis (timed mid-month) throughout 2019.  We will surely have many other articles on the elections, but once a month we will review the field “by the numbers” and update you on who is in, who is rising, who is falling, and who (ultimately) drops out.  By year end, when we turn the corner into 2020, the field for the Iowa caucuses will be set.

Image result for 2020 visionAs of now, there are six announced candidates for the Democratic nomination, and only one, Donald Trump, for the GOP.  The Democratic field will surely get much more crowded -- and we suspect Trump will have some company as well.

THE FIELD

The six Democratic candidates who have declared their intention to run are quite a varied group already.  Senators  Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand are the best known; former San Antonio Mayor and HUD secretary Julian Castro has a reasonably high profile;  U.S. Representative (Hawaii) Tulsi Gabbard also has made a mark for her service in Iraq, a stint as Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and a controversial meeting with Bashar al-Assad of Syria in 2017.  U.S. Representative John Delaney (Maryland) and social entrepreneur Andrew Yang are virtual unknowns (and both announced in 2017), although Delaney has increased his profile in Iowa already through non-stop visits.

More will surely announce soon.  Our expectation is that the field will be set by the end of March, if only because key operatives and bundlers, who have been wooed for months, will not wait.  The list of those who will very likely run is a long one (and we list them alphabetically):  Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Andrew Cuomo, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Eric Holder, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Terry McAuliffe, Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders.

Could others run as well?  Of course.  We published a list of 55 potential candidates a few months ago, and only a few of them (Deval Patrick and Tom Steyer, to name two) have explicitly taken themselves out of the race.  And the list includes some very intriguing names, including Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and, yes, Hillary Clinton.

(For the full list, check out this link:  http://www.borntorunthenumbers.com/2018/11/btrtn-55-ways-dems-might-go-in-2020.html  )                            

THE NUMBERS

There have been a number of polls to date, and they all tell the same basic story.  (Morning Consult has been doing a monthly tracking poll of the 2020 field and their results are shown below.)  Joe Biden is at the head of the class, followed by Bernie Sanders, then Hillary Clinton and Beto O’Rourke.  This reflects, of course, name recognition more than anything else.  It is notable that O’Rourke, who lost a challenge to Ted Cruz for Cruz’s Texas Senate seat, is the leader among the “next generation” potential candidates.  It is also notable that Elizabeth Warren, though widely known, is so far down the list.  Hillary Clinton is indeed in the mix, and the rest of the field has a long way to go.

Candidates
Morning Consult Polls
Nov
Dec
Jan
Biden
26%
25%
27%
Sanders
19%
15%
16%
Clinton
n/a
13%
12%
O'Rourke
8%
8%
7%
Warren
5%
3%
4%
Booker
3%
3%
3%
Harris
4%
3%
3%
Klobuchar
1%
1%
2%
Kerry
0%
2%
2%
Bloomberg
2%
2%
1%
Brown
1%
1%
1%
Gillibrand
1%
1%
1%
Inslee
0%
0%
1%
Holder
0%
1%
0%
Castro
1%
1%
0%
Cuomo
1%
1%
0%
Garcetti
1%
1%
0%
Newsom
1%
1%
0%
Hickenlooper
0%
1%
0%
Schultz
1%
0%
0%
Bullock
1%
0%
0%
Other
3%
3%
2%
Undecided
21%
15%
15%


An Iowa poll conducted in December by the Des Moines Register is not terribly different at this point, with Biden, Bernie and Beto 1-2-3 (Hillary was not included in that poll).  Below is more data from that Iowa poll that give some insight on the relative strength and position of the candidates, at least at the outset of the race.  The polling data is repeated in the fourth column (and the potential candidates are ranked by that data), and in the next columns are favorable/unfavorable ratings for much of the field; the ratio of those ratings; and the overall “awareness” level of the candidate (as measured by the sum of the favorable and unfavorable ratings, eliminating those who had no opinion).

Potential Candidates
Age
Announce Date
Latest Poll (Morning Consult   Jan '19)
Iowa (Dec. 18)
Versus Trump (Axios/SM Dec. '18)
Twitter Followers (000)
Fav/  Unfav
Fav/Unfav Ratio
"Have an Opinion" (awareness)
Biden
76

27%
82/15
5.5
97%
+ 12 pts
3,200
Sanders
77

16%
74/22
3.4
96%

8,060
O'Rourke
46

7%
53/11
4.8
64%

1,170
Warren
69
12/31/2018
4%
64/20
3.2
84%
+ 5 pts
4,750
Booker
49

3%
49/12
4.1
61%

4,090
Harris
54

3%
49/10
4.9
59%
+ 11 pts
2,050
Klobuchar
58

2%
38/8
4.8
46%

555
Brown
66

1%
23/8
2.9
31%

354
Inslee
67

1%
11/8
1.4
19%

156
Gillibrand
51
1/15/2019
1%
35/10
3.5
45%
+ 8 pts
1,310
Bloomberg
76

1%
40/31
1.3
71%

2,280
Cuomo
60

0%




837
Hickenlooper
66

0%
24/9
2.7
33%

126
McAuliffe
61

0%




65
Holder
67

0%
42/16
2.6
58%

450
Delaney
55
7/28/2017
0%
25/11
2.3
36%

12
Castro
44
1/10/2019
0%
27/10
2.7
37%

165
Gabbard
37
1/11/2019
0%




239
Yang
43
11/6/2017
0%
5/12
0.4
17%

33

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders enjoy virtually universal awareness at 97% and 96%, respectively, but you can see Biden has a much higher “favorability ratio” at 5.5 to 1 than Sanders’ 3.4 to 1.  This ratio is calculated simply by dividing Biden’s 82% favorable rating by his 15% unfavorable one; the higher the better, of course.  So while both of these front-runners are well known, Iowans like Joe better than Bernie, and that is reflected in the polls.

This data is particularly useful in gauging the potential of the lesser known candidates.  For instance, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand both are known by nearly half of Iowans polled (46% and 45%, respectively), but among those who have an opinion, the impressions of Klobuchar are more favorable, by a near 5 to1 margin, versus 3.5 to 1 for Gillibrand.  That suggests that, all things being equal, when the candidates are better known, Klobuchar will outpace Gillibrand in the polls, because she has made a more consistently positive impression thus far.

Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke are doing well in Iowa on these measures, with roughly 60% awareness (same as Cory Booker) and very high favorability ratios, also near 5 to 1 (whereas Booker’s is 4 to 1).  Mike Bloomberg is quite well known at 71%, but his ratio is concerning (for him) at only 1.3 to 1.  In fact, he has the highest unfavorable rating in the field, perhaps suggesting he should focus on New Hampshire and skip the farmland.

Apart from the favorability data, we’ve thrown in how some candidates fare versus Trump head-to-head, where data exists (Biden and Harris are very strong here), and, for fun, the Twitter followers of each potential candidate (among the newcomers, Cory Booker has the largest following, trailing only Sanders and Warren).

READER THOUGHTS

I asked our readers for thoughts on the 2020 election, with the question phrased as follows:

I've been chatting up friends recently about the 2020 Democratic presidential field, trying to get a handle on who they like and who they don't like in these very early stages.  I would welcome your input!   Just send me a brief email that tells me just that:  who you like, who you don't like, and any "whys."  Make it short! 

This is, quite obviously, as unscientific as it gets.  But I did get a number of responses and feel they are instructive and illuminate the polling data reviewed above.

A total of 24 different potential Democratic candidates were mentioned in one way or another, which was impressive.  It’s perhaps not surprising that followers of a small political blog are very attuned to the detail of politics, but, nevertheless, at this stage of the game I was impressed to hear opinions about so many candidates, most of whom are quite obscure.

Here were my five big takeaways from this exercise:

·        Joe Biden is a mixed bag.   People like him, even love him, and believe he could do well in the Midwest; he represents the best chance to retake those states (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) that disastrously fell to Trump in the wee hours, sealing Hillary’s fate.  But no one is missing that Joe is 76 now and will be 79 at this Inaugural, and many readers wanted him paired up with a younger VP who could carry on if Biden yielded after one term.

·        I was shocked at the utter rejection of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders; it is not an exaggeration to say that negative comments outweighed the positives by a 10 to 1 ratio for both.  Both are seen as too liberal to win, and somewhat damaged goods, and easy foils for Trump.  The strong preference is for them to step aside.

·        None of the “next generation” candidates have captured the imagination of the group yet.  While there are kind words for Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Andrew Cuomo, Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro, each already appears to shoulder a burden they must address.  O’Rourke is “too young,” Harris is “too divisive,” Booker is “a lightweight,” Cuomo “too tarnished,” Klobuchar “too nice” and Castro “not tough enough.” 

·        I was surprised that Mike Bloomberg does not seem to be getting much traction, but, while having an impressive and distinctive resume, he too is viewed as being too old (also 76), too centrist, too much of a New Yorker to have national appeal.

·        And for the big finding: the true dark horse is Sherrod Brown.  The Ohio Senator may be a 66-year old white man from a state that has slipped to red, but he has struck a chord, at least with this group, who praised him while offering no negatives.  We are a long way away, but if he runs, and gets his “dignity of work” message out there, with his likeable, rumpled persona, he can stick.  He is certainly well positioned for Iowa in specific and the coveted Midwest in general. 

Here is how the “mentions” broke down in our non-scientific sample.

Very Positive
Mixed
Very Negative
Mentioned Many Times

Joe Biden

Elizabeth Warren
Bernie Sanders





Mentioned Some
Sherrod Brown


Beto O'Rourke
Amy Klobuchar
Kamala Harris
Cory Booker
Mike Bloomberg





Hardly Mentioned
Sally Yates


Chris Murphy


Jay Inslee
Kirsten Gillibrand
Hillary Clinton
John Hickenlooper
Julian Castro
Terry McAuliffe
Stacey Abrams

Eric Garcetti
Gavin Newsom


Mark Cuban


Mitch Landrieu