As we head into mid-April, the new cycle slows a bit as most of the country is on vacation for Spring Break and observance of Easter. However, the 2020 candidates are still making news and making campaign appearances so we’ll try to catch all the pertinent things which happened this week as the Democratic primary rolls on.
Here’s the latest rundown of the week from around the world of the 2020 Democratic primary.
Buttigieg Continues Building Momentum
Two polls from early primary states, one in Iowa, and one in New Hampshire show Mayor Pete Buttigieg continuing to build momentum and create a name for himself among some Democratic heavyweights.
First, the Iowa news, from a Monmouth University poll shows Joe Biden at 27%, Bernie Sanders at 16%, and Pete Buttigieg rounding out the top three with 9% of the vote share.
The rest, in the Monmouth Iowa caucus poll, include Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris at 7% each, followed by Beto O’Rourke at 6%, Amy Klobuchar at 4%, Cory Booker at 3%, and Julian Castro coming it 2%. The rest of the field clocked in at 1% or less according to Monmouth among likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers.
New Hampshire tells a similar story from an entirely separate polling outfit, St. Anselm College, which also finds Buttigieg building momentum [PDF] in the Granite State.
According to the St. Anselm poll, Biden leads with 23%, Sanders follows at 16%, and Buttigieg makes the top three with 11%. Elizabeth Warren is sitting at 9%, Kamala Harris comes in at 7%, Beto O’Rourke holds 6%, Cory Booker is at 4%, and Amy Klobuchar takes 2%. The rest of the field is 1% or less according to St. Anselm in New Hampshire.
Buttigieg has risen sharply but clearly hasn’t come close to topping out within the Democratic field. Often the best spot is to stay within the top three, but let someone else carry the “front runner” status and take most of the shots.
Mike Gravel Aiming For Debate Stage, Not Votes
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel recently announced he is joining the 2020 Democratic field with a presidential run. He doesn’t want to win, however, he just wants to participate in the debates, as The Atlantic reports:
It’s hard to pick the strangest thing about Mike Gravel’s campaign for president.
Is it the candidate’s 88 years of age? His blunt critique of American foreign policy? Or the fact that he refuses to travel anywhere to sell his candidacy?
Perhaps it’s that the former senator from Alaska’s campaign manager is a 17-year-old finishing his senior year of high school. Or that the stated goal of the Gravel fundraising apparatus is to raise as little money as possible.
No. The single strangest thing about the campaign is that neither the candidate nor the staff supports his bid for president.
“We don’t want people to vote for the senator,” David Oks, the wet-behind-the-ears campaign manager, told me. “The senator does not want people to vote for him.”
Candidates who run without much hope of actually winning their party’s nomination are not new. People run for president to spotlight a single issue, or simply to spotlight themselves. But rarely, if ever, has an effort been so blunt, with the candidate himself acknowledging that he’s just angling for the debate stage. With the Democratic Party’s guidelines for the debates offering candidates a simple—which is not to say easy—path to qualifying, the opportunity to tailor a campaign to fit the criteria is open. That means that an unorthodox outsider such as Andrew Yang has already qualified by collecting 65,000 donors, whereas Julián Castro, a former Cabinet secretary and heralded Democratic insider, is still scrapping to get onstage. Gravel and his young champions are perfectly happy to use the rules to their advantage.
Alright, so what’s the point? That’s a lot of time and money wasted for a candidate who doesn’t want any votes and doesn’t want to actually win anything. In fact, I’d be shocked if Gravel ever does make it to the debate stage since he’s basically sucking money and oxygen from other candidates who actually are trying to win the Democratic nomination.
For Gravel, this is basically a publicity stunt for his personal endeavors of selling books in all likelihood.
White Men Still Winning
Despite all the talk about the historic diversity in the 2020 Democratic field, there is no escaping the reality, for some Democratic voters and consultants, that the top spots are still dominated by white men.
Many news outlets have continued writing about this since we picked it up in our Monday roundup. Here are some more examples from this week:
Washington Times, “Democrats hail diversity, heavily favor white men,” on April 11:
Despite the most diverse presidential field in history, white men dominate the polling. Mr. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont captured 55% of the vote in a Morning Consult poll released this week.
Add in Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and the white males near 70% support in the national survey.
Politico, “It’s the Sexism, Stupid,” on April 11:
If 2018 was supposed to be the Year of the Woman, when women were elected to Congress in record numbers, what is 2019?
So far, at least in politics, it’s proving to be the Year of the White Guy.
Two white male presidential candidates—Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders—have led the Democratic field from the start, and two others—Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg—have basked in glowing coverage. Meanwhile, experienced female rivals—Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren—haven’t generated nearly the same media buzz, or led any recent polls.
What’s going on here? The evidence is mounting that these patterns are the work of sexism and misogyny—albeit often unconscious, unwitting and the result of implicit bias.
Vox, “Poll: Women voters could give women candidates a boost in the Democratic primary,” on April 10:
There’s a historic number of women running for the Democratic presidential ticket this cycle, and while several are considered top-tier candidates, they still aren’t leading the polls just yet. One key group that could give them a boost: women voters.
According to April polling conducted by Morning Consult, women voters could be slightly more likely than men to pick a woman candidate as their first choice in the Democratic primary.
Is this a problem for Democrats? Democratic primary voters want to beat Donald Trump in 2020, and they’re more apt to select a candidate based on the candidates’ perceived ability to meet that objective rather than check off some diversity boxes. If an older, white male is the ticket to beat Trump, then, by all means, Democrats are enthused about it. If Kamala Harris takes charge in the debates and starts making an effective case against Trump while attracting the right coalition to defeat him, things would shift in her direction.
Right now, at this early point, Democratic voters simply don’t know which way to turn, so they’re turning toward names like Biden and Sanders, two well-known politicians with broad support and the name recognition to challenge Trump on a national stage.
What if Biden Doesn’t Run?
FiveThirtyEight is asking, in an article out today, what the ramifications for the field would be if Joe Biden decides not to run, or somehow fizzles out. Here’s the snapshot:
Which candidates might benefit from Biden flaming out? The Change Research poll suggests that the answer is “basically all of them” — from those on the left (Sanders, Warren) to those closer to the center (Booker, O’Rourke). Men would benefit (Buttigieg, Sanders), but also women (Harris, Warren.) The other candidates have every reason to be wary of a Biden run — he would almost certainly enter the race as the polling front-runner. But Biden has plenty of reasons to be wary too. He has never been a particularly good presidential candidate, and unlike in 2008, when he was a long shot, he is a real threat to others in the field. So other candidates — or maybe all of them — will probably be looking for ways (either publicly or behind the scenes) to take him down.
Biden is pulling from each candidate right now it seems, and if he decided not to run, his support would be spread around the field. He’s sucking a broad layer of the Democratic primary electorate right now on name recognition and a perceived ability to beat Donald Trump.
Julian Castro Calls Bullsh*t on Biden
This news was leftover from last week, but it’s worth noting as Julian Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, attempts to break out of his low poll numbers and gain traction in a crowded field.
Castro decided to take on comedian and noted progressive activist, Bill Maher, on assertions that the recent accusations against Joe Biden’s “handsy” behaviors amounted to nothing and should be laughed off.
Here’s the video of the exchange courtesy of CNN and HBO, via YouTube:
This disagreement between Castro and Maher exemplifies the discussion going on among Democrats about what Biden’s behavior should be classified as. Maher is correct, it’s not sexual harassment. Castro is also correct in questioning why society should be asking women to simply accept Biden’s touchy-feely personality and not be able to feel uncomfortable about being touched or asked to keep their feelings quiet.
It’s not going to do much for Castro’s candidacy or poll numbers, but at least he’s sticking by what he believes and is not afraid to attack someone of Biden’s stature.
2020 Primary Schedule is Heavily Front-Loaded
Fully 60 percent of pledged delegates will be awarded during a two-week period running from March 3 (generally known as Super Tuesday) through March 17, when primaries are scheduled in fully half the states (a share that could go even higher if late-deciding states like New York move into this window). Depending on what happens in the four February contests that are “protected” from additional competition by national party rules (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, in that order), this huge bloc of early-to-mid-March states could either produce scattered results that make an early decision impossible, or could instead make one candidate the putative (not official, but certain) nominee.
This benefits candidates from major states, like Kamala Harris from California, who may get a boost during this time which helps sustain them further into the primary when fighting on weaker territory.
Meet Candidate Pets
Thursday was National Pet Day which brings forth many puff pieces on getting the candidates to talk about their favorite pets. If you’re a pet-lover, Business Insider has you covered:
The 2020 Democratic presidential primary currently has 18 candidates and counting — and many of them are using their pets as furry campaign mascots.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s golden retriever Bailey is a frequent presence on the campaign trail, helping the senator win over voters with his good lucks and enthusiastic personality.
And Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s dogs Truman and Buddy have almost 50,000 Twitter followers on their own account managed by Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten.
Many major candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders don’t yet have pets — but Sen. Cory Booker has promised to get a dog if he’s elected to the White House.
Click-through and read the full story if you want to find your candidate’s favorite pet.
That’s what’s happening this week in the world of the 2020 Democratic primary. Thanks for reading! Leave your thoughts below on stories we might have missed or feel free to give us your comments on these topics.