Swing State Pres

Saturday, January 25, 2020

BTRTN: "McConnellism"... Power, Party, and the Death of Good Faith


Adam Schiff made it plain as day that the President of the United States committed an egregious abuse of power and an equally blatant stonewalling of Congressional oversight. Yet American citizens will likely never see witnesses because of a new strain of moral bankruptcy that makes Machiavelli look like a choir boy.



According to recent polls, roughly 70% of all Americans – Republicans and Democrats – want the trial of Donald Trump to be conducted like any other trial… with witnesses, documents, and all relevant evidence.

But Republicans are, in all likelihood, going to prevent that from happening.

Despite the riveting and brilliant performance of Adam Schiff, Republicans are probably going to succeed in white-washing what is unquestionably a more virulent abuse of Presidential power than Watergate. Yes, Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace for a lesser abuse of power than that executed by Donald Trump, but Trump will walk free. 

Free to further erode our liberties. Free to further crush our institutions. Free to run for re-election, and quite possibly win. Free to serve generations of Americans with a new model for leadership and citizenship, one that proves that crime pays, cheaters win, and corruption – not the rule of law -- reigns supreme in the United States of America.

Some Senate Republicans claim that the articles of impeachment are weak because there is no evidence from direct witnesses, having conveniently forgotten that Donald Trump forbade any of the direct witnesses to his actions from testifying. 

It is a downward spiral of circular logic: Republicans want to clear Donald Trump of abuse of power by essentially acknowledging that he successfully obstructed Congress by refusing to allow witnesses to testify, so there are no direct witnesses to his abuse of power. But, uh, he also isn't guilty of obstructing Congress. Go figure.
  
A trove of new, damning evidence has just come out that essentially ties all the loose ends in the story together into a single coherent narrative of a President comprehensively orchestrating an illegal quid pro quo, and no Republican apparently wants that evidence to be allowed at the trial. Republicans claim that Lev Parnas is utterly unreliable and not credible, conveniently forgetting that until very recently Parnas was working with and for Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump. Rather than test the credibility of his statements against other documents and testimony, the Republican argument seems to be this: “How can you possibly trust this guy’s testimony? This is a guy who was working to implement Rudy Giuliani’s rogue foreign policy under the explicit direction of Donald Trump!”

Senate Republicans cannot even get their story straight. Some will tell you that Trump did something wrong, but it is not impeachable. Others will stick with Trump’s contention that his actions have been “perfect.” Yet surely they know that if Barack Obama had done one percent of what Trump has done, they would have sprinted to impeach him. 

Hypocrisy on the magnitude practiced by Republicans requires the complete surgical removal of any sense of shame. It is to be employed by Satan’s ad agency, tasked with turning night into day, and day into night, and relishing the success in witnessing how the flowering of deceit spawns mistrust, anger, divisiveness, and the destruction of our values and our institutions.

Which brings us to our topic for today.

Is what we are witnessing merely the latest chapter in history of people in power scheming and bending the rules to preserve their power? Is it just a torqued-up, steroids-era, 21st century version of “the ends justify the means?” 

Or are we witnessing something entirely new… something that would make Machiavelli himself shudder in awe?

We should begin to fear that latter. 

Because this is the sickening truth: We are not as strong a country as we thought we were. Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and William Barr may well accomplish what rival armies, forces of nature, and brutal terrorists could not.

They are merely days away from crushing our faith in the rule of law. 

And while each member of this axis of evil could not achieve such carnage on their own, I reserve my most acrid loathing for the one who should know better: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.  

Not since Joseph McCarthy gave birth to the cruel, manipulative, self-serving, and rabid form of hate politics that now bears his name have we seen a single Senator cynically aim a wrecking ball of deceit on our government, our principles, and the will of our people.

It is a potent, toxic blending of Machiavellianism and McCarthyism, and it is sucking the lifeblood out of our country.  It is draining our belief that our government, our Constitution, and our institutions are strong enough to withstand a full-on, category five, direct hit from malevolent actors. Call it McConnellism, and until it is stamped out, it represents a lethal risk to our democracy.

It is tempting to blame our current catastrophe on Donald Trump, but make no mistake: Donald Trump without Mitch McConnell is just a celebrity television host reading off a teleprompter, far too unschooled in the mechanics of government to get anything done, or -- more aptly -- block anything he doesn't want done.

What, exactly, is McConnellism?

1. The heart of McConnellism is the belief that loyalty to party – and maintaining the party’s power -- is more important than loyalty to country.
2.  McConnellism is the belief that time is better spent destroying the opposition party and denying it any accomplishments than to actually accomplish anything.  
3.  McConnellism is a rarified hyper-hypocrisy that shamelessly applies different standards to the actions of one party than to one’s own, and stubbornly refuses to apply the same standards to comparable actions taken by both parties.
4.  McConnellism is a parasite that lives and thrives by sucking off the lies of others, be it Fox News or the President of the United States.

The signature philosophy of McConnellism was laid down in Barack Obama’s first term, when Mitch McConnell announced his intent and purpose as Senate Majority Leader. This is a direct quote from McConnell about the duly elected President of the United States:

 “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”

Reflect on those words for a moment… he certainly had plenty of options for the single notion that he held to be the “most important” thing he could be doing. Perhaps something like “serving the needs of the American people.” How about “Respect the judgment of the electorate and work closely with my Democratic colleagues to find common ground, compromise, and make progress on issues of greatest importance to the American people.” Nah. The singular focus of his life was to do everything in his power to take down the President of the United States.

Thus McConnell introduced a concept that would once have been considered unspeakably unpatriotic: that the essential mission of one party was to destroy the Presidency of the opposing party; to cause it to fail. Considering that the newly elected President carried the electoral mandate of the American people, the idea that the opposing party’s raison d’etre is to sabotage the Presidency would logically suggest that it was simultaneously bent on subverting the will of the American people. A person bent on ensuring that the failure of President of the United States appears to believe that any resulting wound to the United States of America is simply justifiable collateral damage. 

But there was Mitch, publicly espousing the that his job was to find every possible way for Barack Obama to fail. 

The particular aorta that Mitch McConnell severed the day he uttered those words cut the flow of blood to a particularly American notion of public conduct… to act in good faith. Chris Hayes of MSNBC mentioned this phrase in his commentary about the impeachment trial on MSNBC Wednesday night. His focus on that phrase made an impression in light of the madness surrounding this trial. 

In fact, every single day, we expect that the people put in positions of responsibility in businesses, schools, churches, and government will act in good faith. They will honorably set out to do the job they have agreed to do. It is a basic covenant: I am hiring you to do this job. You agree that you will do your best. It is an underpinning of our society that is repeated in millions of social contracts every day.

I used to own a small advertising agency. Imagine, if you will, that I hired a person and tasked them with the job of soliciting new advertising accounts for my agency. Can you imagine how I would have felt it that individual had decided to spend every hour of every day soiling the reputation of other advertising agencies, on the theory that we would win more accounts if every other agency looked worse? How despicable, destructive, and unproductive would that exercise be?

When Ronald Reagan was elected President, I did not believe in “trickle down economics.” But it would have been obscene for anyone in government to take actions in order to increase the likelihood that it would fail. Far better to allow the markets to prove yet again that the theory is fundamentally flawed. But Mitch McConnell? He thinks he is smarter than the markets and wiser than the people. He would do anything in his power as an officer of the United States government to make sure an opponent’s idea failed.

The full lethal and weaponized poison of McConnellism was most profoundly felt when the Senate Majority leader overtly blocked the rightful nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. McConnell achieved this by exercising his right of Senate Majority Leader to refuse to bring pending Senate matters for a floor vote. In this decision, we witnessed an astonishing destruction of precedent. Generations of Senators had understood that the Constitution obligated the President to move with dispatch to fill openings in the Supreme Court, so that the American people were served with a full complement of Supreme Court justices. It was Obama’s constitutional right and indeed obligation to make that nomination, and McConnell brazenly negated that Constitutional imperative.  McConnell did not believe that Garland was unqualified; indeed, he knew Garland was exceptionally qualified. He did it knowing full well that he was cheating Barack Obama and the American people of their rights.

The long-term effect of McConnell’s action is that the only judges who will ever be appointed to the Supreme Court will be those nominated when a Presidency and the Senate Majority are held by the same party. Due to McConnell’s precedent, why would any future Senate Majority Leader ever allow a floor vote to be taken on a nominee of the opposition party? To do so would be to act in good faith, knowing that such an action was the obvious intent and will of the Founding Fathers. But Mitch McConnell has demonstrated to us that vastly superior political outcomes can be secured by acting in bad faith.
 
And now, with Donald Trump in the White House, we witness the spectacle of Mitch McConnell turning the sober Constitutional measure of impeachment into a political hack job, with the Senate Majority leader placing one fat, clumsy hand on the scales of justice.
 
Here is where we see a level of hypocrisy that would be comic if the mask of tragedy did not fit so well. McConnell claims that his decision to not include the calling of witnesses in his impeachment rules is based on the rules governing the impeachment of Bill Clinton. In the case of Clinton, however, the White House had already fully complied with executive branch testimony and documents. Bill Clinton himself had been deposed on video. The entire reason that the current House passed an article of impeachment relating to “obstruction of Congress” is precisely because Trump refused to provide documents or allow the first-hand witnesses among his immediate subordinates to testify. 

McConnell claims that if the Democrats had wanted more witnesses, they should have done it in the House impeachment process. He has commented on a number of occasions with words to the effect that the House “should have done a better job” in their impeachment inquiry. Again: Trump prevented witness testimony. Had the House Democrats attempted to use the court system to force Executive branch employees to comply with Congressional subpoenas, the impeachment process would have been delayed until after the 2020 election… by which time the fundamental issue – Trump’s efforts to tamper with the 2020 election – would have been long since moot. 

McConnell pretends that he does not understand that the House impeachment process is akin to a grand jury, which only needs sufficient evidence to decide that a full trial is merited. It was never intended to obviate the need for a Senate trial. Moreover, we now see a flood of new evidence… a common occurrence as a legal proceeding moves from grand jury to trial. 

McConnell and Republicans frequently excoriated the Democrats for “moving so quickly” with the House articles of impeachment, and now they think that the Senate trial should be a two-week blitzkrieg devoid of witnesses and documents.

My single favorite moment of the past three days?

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania announced that “I didn’t hear anything new today.”
 
Is there a scale that is capable of measuring such stupidity? 

Hey, Pat! If you want to hear something new, you should ask for Trump’s direct reports to testify! You should ask the White House to comply with document requests! You should be the first person who demands that John Bolton raise his right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

The Senate trial is McConnellism run rampant. It is a cheating, scheming, double-crossing fiasco of hiding the truth and hiding from the truth. 

The final irony? All the people who watched the Democrats present their case to the Senate actually witnessed a proceeding of great depth, deep respect for American values, and powerful idealism.

It looked like a dignified proceeding, because the Democrats are acting in good faith

Adam Schiff has spoken with flawless logic, comprehensive knowledge, and deep respect for the institutions of government. Even those that do not currently deserve it. 

Schiff and his colleagues acted in the good faith that if their words are heard by objective, attentive ears, the conclusion will be self-evident. Justice will be served. 

Invoking the brave testimony of Jovanovitch, Vindman, Taylor, and others, he asked only that members of the Senate have the same courage as the career diplomats who risked their careers to testify. Surely, Schiff asked, if career diplomats can risk their careers to do the right thing, so too can a United States Senator. 

Schiff spoke in good faith to our better angels.

And all he encountered on the Republican side was McConnellism, where there are no betters and there are no angels. 

Only people who are more loyal to party than to country.

People who are more motivated by keeping power – their own and that of their party -- than by finding justice, respecting the Constitution, and by acting in good faith to do the jobs the were elected to do. 

One gets the feeling, looking at the rumpled, grumpy, sour McConnell that he is an unfulfilled man. We see it all the time: people who live lives compelled with the dark purpose of hurting those who are more popular and successful than themselves. People who are not able to create, and therefore find meaning only in obstructing those who can, and criticizing the work product that has been created. Even when McConnell smiles, it appears to be merely the self-satisfied smirk of someone who has merely temporarily tripped up his better. 

What if we become a nation of Mitch McConnells? A nation of people who throw hammers, set trip-wires, and are more motivated to sabotage rivals than to actually accomplish something of value? A nation of devious, scheming, cheaters?

That is the example that is being set at the highest levels of our government.

Where we were once galvanized to idealistic purpose and action by Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Obama, we now are neck deep in the deceit, disgrace, and destruction of Trump, Barr, and McConnell. 

In this dark period, we of course must do all the work we can to remove this blight from the pinnacle of government.

We must have faith that we can prevail.

But we cannot stoop to beating McConnellism by succumbing to it, practicing a progressive mutation of it, using the excuse of the ends to justify replicating the deceitful means of Republicans.

We must indeed have faith that we can prevail… but the faith we hold must be good faith, or it is not faith at all.



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Friday, January 17, 2020

BTRTN 2020 Vision: Wide, Wide Open...Four Way Tie in Iowa with Billionaires Ready Down the Road


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

THE LEAD

These are the main headlines for the past month of the 2020 presidential campaign, from mid-December to mid-January:

·        The Iowa caucuses are, for all intents and purposes, a four-way dead heat.  With just three weeks to go, Elizabeth Warren slightly lags    behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who are in a virtual tie for the lead.

·        The Democratic field narrowed to 12, and with    the latest departures – Cory Booker, Julian    Castro and Marianne Williamson – gone went     the diversity that had characterized the Democratic field of nominees (if never the leaderboard).

·        The debate on Tuesday night in Des Moines was widely viewed as a non-event, a rather cautious affair given the stakes, with none of the expected fireworks materializing, especially between Sanders and Warren (though there were some sharp words on stage after the debate ended).

·        In general, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are on an upward swing:

o   Biden’s jump back into winning contention in Iowa raises the possibility that if he performs well there and in New Hampshire, he could take a commanding lead heading into better terrain for him:  Nevada, South Carolina and Super Tuesday

o   Sanders won the fourth quarter money stakes, and is built to last, having totally re-invigorated his campaign, against all odds, after his heart attack

·        But watch out for the billionaires…Tom Steyer is suddenly polling well in both Nevada and South Carolina, and Mike Bloomberg is obliterating the airwaves in Super Tuesday states with more than $200 million in ad spending to date, about three-quarters of what the rest of the field has spent (mostly by Steyer at about $140 million)

·        While the field numbers 12, we are really down to the Elite Eight:  the Big Four (Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren), the Billionaires (Bloomberg and Steyer) and the Barely Viable (Klobuchar and Yang)


THE FIELD

A total of 28 Democrats (that is, legitimate national figures) have run for the presidency in the 2020 cycle, a staggering number.  But with the departure of three more candidates this month, the field has narrowed to 12.  That is still a large field, but with four candidates virtually irrelevant at this point (Michael Bennet, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard and Deval Patrick), the solution set can now fit comfortably on one stage.

The departure of Booker, an African-American, Castro, a Latino, and Williamson has caused much gnashing of teeth among Democrats, who are left with a field that is relatively old (average age of 60) and mostly white and male.  And that is even truer for leading contenders; the top five in national polls (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Bloomberg) are on average 68 years old and all white, and if you took Buttigieg (who gets diversity cred for being the only gay person in the field) out of the math, the other four are on average age 76.  If the Dems win, it is likely that the torch will have been passed to an old, not a new, generation.  (Note that Barack Obama is still only 58 years old.)

But lost in the gnashing over the apparent rejection of diversity is that Democrats have long nominated younger candidates (JFK, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), and in the last three cycles have nominated an African-American and a woman.  Cory Booker and Julian Castro, despite quite strong national profiles and solid experience, simply did not catch on.  Booker, for all of his earnest talk of unity, his passion and his appeal, never captured more than 5% of the national vote in any month, and more recently had trended down to 2%.  Castro, even with his amazing backstory and breadth of experience as a mayor, a U.S. representative and cabinet member, did not even do that well.  Booker always seemed to be a bit of a lightweight as he tried to find policy turf straddling progressives and centrists, while Castro’s focus on immigration was simply out of step with a party much more concerned with health care.

The Republican field, such as it is, remains at three, with Trump being nominally challenged by William Weld and Joe Walsh. 


THE MONTH

Presidential campaigns must live in the real world, and the shock of exogenous events provides an element that already exhausted candidates must deal with real-time.  There are two such bombshell events that are interfering with the candidates’ tidy talking points on health care, climate change and the economy:  the impeachment saga, of course, and now the incredible escalation of Middle East tension with the assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani.

These events are sucking up a great deal of oxygen, and the Biden campaign has been affected, both positively and negatively, by them.  In general, distracting events are a positive for Biden – he is literally a gaffe-machine, so any headline that does not feature another Biden misplay helps him.  And as the frontrunner, he is helped by headlines that crowd out the ability of lower profile candidates to break through.  With impeachment, Iran and Iraq dominating the news, it is hard for Warren, Biden, Buttigieg and Bloomberg to make a dent, and even harder for the relative unknowns in the rest of the field.

Impeachment is a mixed bag for Biden.  Clearly the incessant drumbeat of “the Biden investigation” and “what was Hunter Biden thinking” surely can’t be helpful to his cause.  Nevertheless Biden has rather gamely and adroitly (for him) turned the storyline to his advantage.  He has said, forcefully and accurately, that Trump’s fear of Biden motivated him to take extreme measure in Ukraine to turn up dirt on him.  It is correct to say that Trump was scared of Biden and considered him his most formidable opponent.

But however these events net out for Biden, there can be no doubt that the Senate trial of Trump is a massive blow for Senators Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar and Bennet, who must absent themselves from Iowa and New Hampshire at exactly the time their presence is required the most.  As jurors, they cannot leave their seats – or even have their cell phones in their possession – during the Senate trial.  This vanishing act is a godsend for Biden and Buttigieg, who have those crucial states all to themselves up to the Iowa caucuses of February 3, and perhaps well beyond.

The Iran/Iraq madness is also a mixed bag for Biden.  Trump’s escalation has inevitably dredged up the whole calamity from the starting point of the Iraq War, and Biden’s 2002 vote to authorize war powers for George W. Bush (a vote he long ago stated was a mistake) is now haunting him anew.  But on the plus side, world crises are a chance for Biden to tout his substantial and unique (among the candidates) foreign policy credentials from his years as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and as Vice President.  Biden is on a first name basis with world leaders, is well grounded on the dynamics of every international hotbed, and relishes opportunities to display his global chops.

Biden is doing reasonably well in the race at this point.  He has regained lost ground in both Iowa and New Hampshire, retained his leads in Nevada and South Carolina, and is holding on to his rock-solid 30% support nationally.  Biden might not be lighting anyone’s fire, but his staying power is impressive, and he is still the candidate to beat.

Sanders’ remarkable recovery – in both physical and campaign terms – was not expected.  He also pulled off an amazing magic act: his signature program, Medicare For All (“I wrote the damn bill!”) ended up tarnishing his progressive lane-mate, Elizabeth Warren, even though it was the only one of her much-touted (“I have a plan for that”) proposals that she did not author herself.  Warren took the heat for it, and tumbled in the polls because of it, while Bernie went poof and disappeared.  And now he is on the rise.

Warren, looking for a way to claw back, accused Sanders of telling her in a 2018 conversation that a woman could not win the presidency.  Sanders went for the full denial in the debate, while saying – and repeating – that since Hillary Clinton effectively won the 2016 race (in the popular vote), no one in their right mind could claim that a woman could not win in 2020.  Warren was not pleased, but chose not to turn the dust-up into a on-stage brawl.  But she refused to shake Sanders’ hand after the debate was over, and sharply accused him of lying to a national audience.  Clearly she was having difficulty deciding how much focus she wanted to place on this controversy, and opted for a semi-private flogging.

We had been speculating that the timing could be right for Amy Klobuchar’s moment.  She has been slowly climbing in the polls on the strength of solid recent debate performances and her moderate positioning.  But alas, that upward movement seems to have peaked, and her debate performance on Tuesday was solid but not spectacular.

Of all the candidates, Klobuchar most needs a win in Iowa to validate her candidacy, which is built on her claim of Midwestern invincibility.  If she can’t beat other Democrats in Iowa, how can she be the best candidate to beat Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?  But her ascendance has been too slow, and seems to be pointing to a “too little, too late” outcome in Iowa – and perhaps the death knell of her candidacy.  She can hardly expect to rebound in New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina.

Pete Buttigieg has also not been able to build on his momentum, but his peak, if that is what it is, is a great place to be, tied for the lead in Iowa.  Like Klobuchar, the moderate Midwesterner absolutely needs to do well in Iowa to validate his candidacy, but unlike Klobuchar, he has money and also some degree of national standing, particularly among (rich) coastal elites.  Of the 28 Democrats who have taken a shot, Mayor Pete is the only one to have come from nowhere and vaulted himself into the top tier.  Among the others in the “Elite Eight,” Biden, Sanders, Warren and Bloomberg were already well known, and Klobuchar, Steyer and Yang are still awaiting their moment, which may or may not yet come.

No one was expecting it, but Tom Steyer is suddenly polling well in both Nevada and South Carolina, his massive spending mixed with his strong anti-elite, anti-corporate messaging finally paying off.  If Steyer can survive down-and-out showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, and put up respectable numbers in the next two contests, he could propel himself into the Super Tuesday conversation.  Already he benefited by those polls, which enabled him to join the five leading candidates on the stage in Des Moines the other night.

There is simply no reason why Michael Bennet, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney or Deval Patrick should still be in the race.  None of them are scoring in the polls, getting on debate stages, or leaving a mark of any kind.

But the bottom line:  there are 20 days to go before the Iowa caucuses on February 3, and the race is wide, wide open. 

Let’s look at the numbers.


THE NUMBERS

Iowa:  There have been three new polls in Iowa, and they show little change since December.  Biden has continued modest upward movement over the last two months, and is effectively tied with Sanders and Buttigieg all at about the 20% mark.  Warren is a bit behind them holding at 16%.  Klobuchar remains at 7%, and Yang and Steyer are still at 3%.  If this outcome held on caucus night, the Big Four would be relieved (even Warren, for not dropping further) and Klobuchar would likely drop out.  But the biggest winner might be Mike Bloomberg, because he needs a muddled field to continue into Super Tuesday, and a close four-way outcome would leave the field wide open.

Average of Iowa Polls
Candidates
Nov (4)
Dec (2)
Jan (3)
Biden
16
19
21
Sanders
16
22
20
Buttigieg
23
21
19
Warren
18
15
16
Klobuchar
5
7
7
Yang
3
3
3
Steyer
3
3
3

New Hampshire:  There have also been three new polls here in January, with Biden and Sanders separating themselves by just a bit over Warren, with Buttigieg dropping back, and no others making a move.  This is good news for Biden, for sure, and also Sanders in his lane battle with Warren.

Average of NH Polls
Candidates
Oct (3)
N/D (6)
Jan (3)
Biden
21
17
23
Sanders
20
17
22
Warren
25
17
17
Buttigieg
9
18
13
Klobuchar
2
3
5
Gabbard
2
4
3
Steyer
3
3
3

Nevada:  There have been two new polls in Nevada, after none in December, and there have been some notable changes.  Biden still leads, but he has dropped back to within range of Sanders, who slipped just a tad.  Warren also fell, and Buttigieg held.  But the big move was by Steyer, and it was true in both polls.  He is the first to crack into the top four other than the Big Four in any of the early states.  And in case you were wondering, both polls were conducted by good pollsters, FOX News (yes, they do solid polling) and USA Today/Suffolk.  This could be a very important development, especially given what the polls are showing in South Carolina (below).

Average of Nevada Polls
Candidates
J/A/S (5)
O/N (4)
Jan (2)
Biden
25
29
21
Sanders
20
20
18
Warren
16
20
12
Steyer
3
4
10
Buttigieg
4
7
7
Yang
2
3
4
Klobuchar
1
2
3

South Carolina.  Here there is only one new poll, also a FOX News poll, but Steyer jumped into second place in it.  Biden is still very strong here, with solid support from the African-American vote, and Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg are not making any progress in weakening Biden’s stranglehold on that critical segment of the party.

Average of South Carolina Polls
Candidates
Oct (5)
N/D (3)
Jan (1)
Biden
36
35
36
Steyer
4
4
15
Sanders
12
15
14
Warren
15
16
10
Buttigieg
4
8
4

National.   Steady Joe Biden continued to lead the national polls at that same 30% level he has enjoyed for months, and Bernie Sanders held at the same just-below-20% level he has had for many months.    Elizabeth Warren continued at her post-boom level of 15%.  Pete Buttigieg lost the three points that he gained last month, and Mike Bloomberg added a few more point to join Buttigieg in the “second tier.”  No one else is registering meaningfully nationally.

Average of National Polls for the Month at Mid-Month
Candidates
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Jan
Biden
29
29
31
37
34
30
30
28
28
28
28
29
Sanders
17
23
23
18
17
16
16
17
16
17
18
19
Warren
7
7
6
8
10
13
15
17
23
21
16
15
Buttigieg
0
0
3
7
7
6
5
5
6
7
10
7
Bloomberg
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
4
6
Yang
1
0
1
1
1
1
2
3
3
3
3
3
Klobuchar
2
4
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
3
Gabbard
1
1
1
1
0
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
Steyer
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
0
1
1
1
1
1
2
Bennet
n/a
n/a
n/a
1
1
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
Delaney
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
0
Patrick
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
0
0
Other/NA
38
30
27
21
26
29
24
22
16
14
11
11


SHOW ME THE MONEY

Bernie Sanders continues to be the fundraising king among the Democrats, and he raised a whopping $34.5 million in the quarter, shattering previous totals for anyone in the field.  The other frontrunners all raised in the $20-25 million range, and both Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar upped their games considerably.

These totals allow the candidates the luxury of staying power.  And while none of them can compete with Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer on money alone, they do have the resources for ads and “ground games” to enable them to compete through Super Tuesday if the results of the early primaries warrant.

Fundraising ($ Millions)
1Q 2019
2Q 2019
3Q 2019
4Q 2019
Sanders
18.2
24.0
25.3
34.5
Buttigieg
7.0
24.8
19.1
24.7
Biden
n/a
21.5
15.7
22.7
Warren
6.0
19.1
24.6
21.2
Yang
1.8
2.8
9.9
16.5
Klobuchar
5.2
3.9
4.8
11.4
Gabbard
2.0
1.5
3.0
3.4
Patrick
n/a
n/a
n/a
2.2
Bennet
n/a
3.5
2.1
tbd
Note:  Bloomberg, Delaney and Steyer are largely self-funding their races


WHO CAN BEAT TRUMP?

If you don’t think that the impeachment inquiry has hurt the Democrats, take a hard look at these two charts.  The first, at the national level, looks at the average of national polls pitting Trump head-to-head versus his three main rivals, Biden, Sanders and Warren.  While the Dems on average had a healthy +8 lead over Trump in September and October, that gap has narrowed to only +3 since the inquiry began.

Head-to-Head National Polls Big Three Dems Versus Trump

Avg. Big Three *
Trump
Diff.
Nov/Dec/Jan
48
45
3
Sep/Oct
51
43
8
 * Big Three:  Biden, Sanders, Warren

The same dynamic is true in polls conducted in swing states, except in these crucial states, Trump has gone from a -3 point deficit to a +1 lead.

Head-to-Head Swing State Polls* Big Three Dems Versus Trump

Avg. Big Three **
Trump
Diff.
Nov/Dec/Jan
46
47
-1
Oct
48
45
3
 * Swing states: AZ, FL, GA, IA, ME, MCH, MN, NC, NV, OH, PA, TX, WI
 ** Big Three:  Biden, Sanders, Warren



In terms of who can lay claim to the title of “most electable,” that still belongs to Joe Biden.  Biden leads Trump by +4 in the national polls, while the other three (including Buttigieg now) are all also leading Trump but by a very narrow margin.

But in the swing state polls, only Biden leads Trump in recent head-to-head polls.  And this “electability” claim in the swing states is a major part of his appeal, and a data point to keep your eye on.

Head-to-Head Nov 15 - Jan 15 Polls Dems Versus Trump
Nat'l/State Polls
Biden
Warren
Sanders
Buttigieg
National
Biden +4
Warren +2
Sanders +2
Buttigieg +3
Avg. Swing State *
Biden +2
Warren -3
Sanders -1
Buttigieg -1
 * Swing states:  AZ, FL, GA, IA, ME, MICH, MN, NC, NV, OH, PA, TX, WI


THE GOP RACE

The Trump challengers, William Weld and Joe Walsh, are not exactly getting much traction.  The most recent polling (from October) has Trump garnering 87% of the GOP vote, while the two challengers are both at 2% or less.


THE FULL FIELD

Here are the entire Democratic and Republican fields as of today, ranked by the most recent national polls.

Democratic Candidates
Age
Announcement  Date
Credentials
Latest national polls (12/15/19 - 1/15/20)
Joe Biden
77
4/25/2019
Ex-VP and Ex-Senator, Delaware
29%
Bernie Sanders
78
2/19/2019
Senator, Vermont
19%
Elizabeth Warren
70
12/31/2018
Senator, Massachusetts
15%
Pete Buttigieg
37
1/22/2019
Mayor, South Bend, Indiana
8%
Michael Bloomberg
77
11/24/2019
Ex-Mayor of New York City
5%
Andrew Yang
45
11/6/2017
Entrepreneur
3%
Amy Klobuchar
59
2/10/2019
Senator, Minnesota
3%
Tulsi Gabbard
38
1/11/2019
Representative, Hawaii
2%
Tom Steyer
62
7/9/2019
Billionaire hedge fund manager
2%
Michael Bennet
55
5/2/2019
Senator, Colorado
0%
John Delaney
56
7/28/2017
Representative, Maryland
0%
Deval Patrick
63
11/13/2019
Ex-Governor, Massachusetts
0%





Republican Candidates
Age
Announcement  Date
Credentials
Latest national polls (from Oct 2019)
Donald Trump
73
6/18/2019
President
86%
William Weld
74
4/15/2019
Ex-Governor, Massachusetts
2%
Joe Walsh
57
8/25/2019
Ex-Representative, Illinois
1%


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