This is it, folks, the last full weekend of campaigning for Democratic candidates before the Iowa Caucuses happen on Monday night. With the primary being overshadowed by daily impeachment proceedings and a lot of energy being sucked out of Iowa and focused back in Washington, there truly is a sense of uncertainty over where this race will head in the next 48 hours.
Here’s a rundown of what’s happening around the primary and political world with days to go before Iowa.
John Delaney exits the race
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney has decided to call it quits as the period of actual voting is just about to begin:
Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, the first Democrat to enter the 2020 race for president, has ended his campaign just days before the Iowa caucuses.
The announcement brings to a close the long-shot bid launched in 2017, just months after President Donald Trump took office.
Delaney’s campaign, in its release, cited internal analysis that said he would not be able to reach necessary thresholds to compete in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, and that he didn’t want to obstruct fellow moderate Democrats. Recent polling showed that Delaney barely registered in Iowa, despite spending much of the past three years campaigning there.
Delaney wasn’t so much of a long shot as he was a “no shot.” His campaign never took off beyond a high point of one or two percent in some polls earlier last year, but he never really connected with any voting constituency and was basically crowded out by other candidates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg in the same lane.
Fewer Iowa polls than previous years
With Delaney nothing more than a housekeeping note heading into Iowa, what’s going to happen over the weekend? FiveThirtyEight has pointed out that compared with prior years, 2020 is seeing a dearth of Iowa polling data as polling continues to become more difficult, so the race is basically wide open with a slight Sanders edge:
There’s still time for a few more Iowa polls to drop and shake up the race, but it would be somewhat anomalous: There have not been as many Iowa surveys this cycle as in past cycles, especially in what is historically the most frequently polled time period — right before the caucuses. In fact, if we look at the final month of polling in each nomination contest since 1980 in which Iowa was contested, the 2020 Democratic race has had fewer polls than any other cycle this millennium, with the exception of 2000.
In 2008, 2012, and 2016, there were at least 20 polls released in the weeks running up to Iowa. This time, there have been just 11, with the chance for a few more to drop over the weekend. Pollsters have come under increasing scrutiny over producing accurate results, a task that has become harder and harder each election cycle with the move from voters away from landline phones. It’s possible that seeing fewer polls isn’t a bad thing for politics in general since in this day and age polls tend to be used by both sides to drive public opinion, not reflect it.
Sanders surges nationally, ties Biden
Speaking of polls, a new survey of Democratic voters on the national level shows Bernie Sanders surging into a statistical tie with Joe Biden, per NBC News:
Bernie Sanders has jumped into a virtual tie with Joe Biden nationally just before the first nominating contests in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Friday.
The survey, taken Sunday through Wednesday, offers a snapshot of the Democratic presidential race nationally days before Monday’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. Sanders has steadily cut into Biden’s lead in averages of U.S. polls, which capture overall voter sentiment but not voting preference in the states that will decide who faces President Donald Trump in November.
The Vermont senator has also seen his support rise in recent polls of tight races in Iowa and New Hampshire, the second nominating state.
- Bernie Sanders – 27%
- Joe Biden – 26%
- Elizabeth Warren – 15%
- Michael Bloomberg – 9%
- Pete Buttigieg – 7%
- Amy Klobuchar – 5%
- Andrew Yang – 4%
- Tom Steyer – 2%
- Tulsi Gabbard – 2%
There’s no denying Sanders’ continued burst in support nationally and down at the state level in Iowa. The question is where that support lands over the next two days, the most volatile time as voters go back and forth making up their mind.
Blomberg spends big
The other story kicking around this morning is a report that Michael Bloomberg has already spent upwards of $100 million on his 2020 campaign so far, with commitments to keep his checkbook open going deeper in the primary, as Mediaite reports:
According to the Drudge Report, the Bloomberg campaign, on Friday, will release the numbers in a filing to the FEC. And the filing will state that campaign ad spending has already topped nine figures. And that’s just in advertising attacking President Donald Trump.
Drudge, reporting through a Bloomberg campaign source, says the campaign has spent in excess of $25 million on digital ads, and has topped $85 million in TV buys.
The Bloomberg source called the massive spending a “down payment” on the former mayor’s effort to take down Trump in November.
In a related story, FiveThirtyEight has noted that Bloomberg’s strategy of avoiding the early states and focusing on a national campaign of Super Tuesday states is certainly working in those contests, but will it hold up over time? That’s the question:
He is skipping the early-voting states (he won’t even be on the ballot for the New Hampshire primary) and is instead focusing on Super Tuesday and beyond. It’s unclear just how far his strategy will take him, but on Jan. 23, the billionaire jumped from fifth to fourth place in our national polling average. Bloomberg now sits at 8 percent, putting him one point above former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is now in fifth with 7 percent support.
So where exactly has Bloomberg been gaining momentum? Not surprisingly, in Super Tuesday states and beyond (meaning those states where the primary is later). According to a recent Monmouth University national poll, Bloomberg polls at 12 percent among Democratic voters whose state primary is after March 3 — Super Tuesday — but just 5 percent among respondents whose state primary is earlier.
The issue is whether Bloomberg can keep any of his gains once other candidates are announced winners in the first four states. Bloomberg isn’t really competing in the February contests of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina, so he’ll need to stay relevant and viable as other candidates bask in early victories. The good news, for Bloomberg, is that he has the personal fortune to keep his face on television, keep his digital presence ubiquitous, and keep spreading his message in Super Tuesday states.
Follow the 2020 Primary Schedule for the latest information.