Saturday, March 16, 2019

BTRTN 2020 Vision: Biden and Bernie Set the Pace in the Polls, and Define the Ideological Spectrum

Tom with our BTRTN monthly feature on the 2020 Elections, with all the latest numbers.

The 2020 Democratic presidential field is nearing its final form, awaiting the all-but-certain entry of Joe Biden to join a group that now numbers 15.  Another candidate or two may surface, but those persons will enter on the fringe; all the big names have announced except for Biden.  Said another way, it is highly likely that the eventual nominee will be either Biden or one of the announced candidates, and whoever that person is, at this very early stage of the proceedings, he or she is the odds-on favorite to be the next President of the United States.

Image result for 2020 visionNo new Republicans have ventured into the field to challenge Donald Trump in the last month, thus leaving former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as Trump’s only GOP opponent at this point.  But others could become emboldened by a blazing Mueller report, or a sharp (and unlikely) downturn in Trump’s approval rating within the GOP. 


THE FIELD

The Democratic field was clarified in a busy month that saw the entry of Senator Bernie Sanders, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and most recently, Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, as well announcements by a number of potential candidates that they had decided to pass, including Michael Bloomberg, Sherrod Brown, and Jeff Merkley.

The four newest entrants joined eleven others who entered the race in January and early February: Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker,  Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and John Delaney, former HUD secretary Julian Castro, Mayor (of South Bend, Indiana) Pete Buttigeig, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and New Age lecturer Marianne Williamson.

Who else could enter?  Perhaps Montana Governor Steve Bullock, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, Ohio Congressman Steve Ryan, and even one or two others.  But the rationale for low visibility players to make a go of it lessens everyday – what unique story can they tell, or positioning can they find, in this bloated field?

The GOP side has far more time flexibility for the few others that might challenge Trump, a group that includes Mitt Romney, former Ohio governor John Kasich, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.  But with Weld in the race to rough up Trump a bit, they might all take a pass.

And Starbucks mogul Howard Schultz should decide soon on his threatened independent run.


THE NUMBERS

The Democratic race is in three tiers now, with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in the top group, well ahead of the field.  They are followed by tier two, largely comprised of the senators in the race, Harris, Warren, Booker and Klobuchar, plus Beto O’Rourke.  The last group is made up of those mired in the “asterisk” zone, that is, barely registering at all in the polls at this point.  Senator Gillibrand is in this group, along with the governors, reps and the non-politicians.

This three-group tiering is true both nationally and in Iowa.  It is conventional to say that Biden and Sanders are being carried mostly by name recognition, but time is running out for that statement to really hold.  For one thing, that may make sense nationally, but these candidates (with the exception of Beto) have been crisscrossing Iowa for some time now, and have made their launch blitzes, to little effect.  It may be early, but Biden has yet to launch, which could give him a bump.  Those second tier candidates have to start some upward movement at some point.

Tiers
Candidates*
Average of Naional Polls

Iowa Polls
Tiers
Jan 1-15
Jan 16 - Feb 15
Feb 16 - Mar 15

DM Reg Dec 10-13, 2018
Emers. Jan 31 - Feb 2
DM Reg Mar 3-6
Tier 1
Biden
28
29
29

32
29
27
Tier 1
Sanders
15
17
23

19
15
25
Tier 2
Harris
4
11
11

5
18
7
Tier 2
Warren
6
7
7

8
11
9
O'Rourke
8
7
6

11
6
5
Booker
2
4
5

4
4
3
Klobuchar
2
2
4

3
3
3
Tier 3
Castro
1
1
1

1
2
1
Tier 3
Gillibrand
1
1
1

0
1
0
Hickenlooper
0
1
1

0
0
0
Gabbard
1
1
1

0
0
0
Buttigeig
0
0
0

0
0
0
Inslee
0
0
0

0
0
1
Delaney
0
0
0

0
0
0
Williamson
0
0
0

0
0
0
Yang
0
1
0

0
0
0

Other/NA
33
18
11

17
11
19

* Chart excludes all non-announced candidates except Joe Biden


Apart from their extremely high national profiles, Biden from his VP years and Bernie for his 2016 run, the two represent the competing ideologies dominating Democratic debate.  Biden is the trusted centrist, the moderate, the let’s-reclaim-the-Midwest, win-over-the-independents, get-back-to-Obama older wing of the party.  Bernie, despite his age, is the darling of the young progressives, the voice of the future, of the AOC acolytes, the big, bold ideas, the get-our-base-excited wing.  Biden and Bernie are fighting for the soul of the party, and until one of the younger crowd figures out how to muscle into that conversation, those two may simply duke it out through June of 2020.  And they have been, with a few notable exceptions, mighty timid about defining themselves along the ideological spectrum.

Sanders certainly got a nice bump from his launch, both nationally and in Iowa, enough to pull within shouting distance of Biden.  Elizabeth Warren is in the mix in the second tier, but Bernie dominates her space as of now, despite the fact that she has been in the public eye for quite some time.  The other second tier candidates are all trying to define themselves, or deal with their weaknesses.  Klobuchar, in particular, is having difficulty shedding the “tough boss” story, with the indelible image of her eating salad with a comb trailing her every move.  (A staffer had failed to provide plastic utensils, and got reamed out for it, with the comb being the substitute, which the aide was forced to wash after the salad was consumed.)

Booker is trying to run a positive campaign in these horrendously negative times, and each of Harris, Booker and O’Rourke are resisting specifics and labels.  The anti-labeling frenzy reached a new low when Hickenlooper, a businessperson-turned-politician, in a launch interview with Joe Scarborough, refused to say he was a capitalist not once, but three times, looking sillier each time.  This simply may not be the race to try to be all things to all people, when the Democrats are thrashing out what their party stands for – and frontrunners Biden and Bernie are the pillars of the polar positions on the spectrum.

Among the second and third tier candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigeig are perhaps making the most concerted effort to develop defining ideas.  Warren brought up the notion of breaking up the big tech monoliths, and Buttigeig has been talking up a “court packing” proposal, that is, adding justices to the Supreme Court to regain a liberal majority.  There is no faint-heartedness in these views.

Gillibrand is perhaps on the thinnest ice right now.  Her failure to launch effectively was already an issue; she then ran into an epic snafu in her own Senate office’s handling of a sexual assault charge. Gillibrand was, of course, a central player in the #MeToo movement, the first to call for Al Franken’s resignation, and the loudest voice for reform to clean up in the halls of Congress.  Essentially, her signature issue, already a bit of a burden with Franken backlash, blew up on her.

But Beto is the new kid on the block, and his entry, along with the any-day-now Biden announcement, could shake up a race that has not moved much since it began to take shape.


WHO CAN BEAT TRUMP? 


For some Democrats, there is only one important criterion in their nominee choice:  who has the best chance of beating Trump?   The most recent national poll, by Emerson, almost a month ago, is fascinating, in that Biden, not surprisingly, is the leader at +10 head-to-head versus Trump – but Bernie is not #2.  Sanders, in fact, barely top Trump, by +2, within the margin of error.  One can only conclude that Trump’s strategy to portray the Dems as a bunch of “socialists” is a wise one, and Bernie’s self-description as a “Democratic socialist” is not helping him at all.

Emerson 2/16/2019
Dem
Trump
Margin
Biden
55
45
10
Warren
53
47
6
O'Rourke
53
47
6
Booker
47
42
5
Harris
52
48
4
Sanders
51
49
2
Booker
51
49
2
Klobuchar
51
49
2

And for those of you wondering about Howard Schultz’s possible impact on the race, should he run as an independent, these two charts provide some crude guidance.  Schultz pulls more or less equally from Biden and Trump, perhaps a shade more from Biden – but Schultz destroys Kamala Harris, turning her +4 head-to-head lead over Trump into a -2 with Schultz in the race.  Schultz’ sources fully 9 of his 12 points from Harris, and only 3 from Trump.  The Dems are wise to fear a Schultz entry.

Emerson 2/16/2019
Biden
Trump
Schultz
w/o Schuttz
55
45
n/a
w/ Schultz
51
42
7
HS Impact
-4
-3

Emerson 2/16/2019
Harris
Trump
Schultz
w/o Schuttz
52
48
n/a
w/ Schultz
43
45
12
HS Impact
-9
-3


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1 comment:

  1. Can anybody get to Schultz and persuade of his idiocy? Maybe Bloomberg could talk to him as one billionaire to another.

    ReplyDelete

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