Inslee Bows Out of Presidential Race

By Jim Ellis

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)

Aug. 23, 2019 — The Democratic National Committee leaders’ strategy to substantially increase the presidential debate qualification requirements in order to decrease the unwieldy and bloated candidate field is working.

The prerequisites to prove that a campaign has more than 130,000 donors and that each candidate reaches a minimum of two percent support from four of eight designated pollsters paid another dividend Wednesday as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee became the third Democratic candidate to officially exit the race.

Not making the debate stage signifies that a candidate has no chance to become a top-tier candidate. Without national exposure, also-ran candidates have little opportunity to increase name identification and familiarity in order to raise enough money to deliver a message, motivate people to work on their campaign, and attract serious media attention both nationally and in the important local markets within key states.

Inslee follows Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in making the decision to bow out of the race, and there are likely to be several more following suit once it becomes even more evident that the lower-tier candidates will no longer have the opportunity to climb onto the national debate stage.

Gov. Inslee, in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday, stated ” … it’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball. I’m not going to be the president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.” He is expected to announce that he will seek a third term as Washington’s governor.

The Inslee withdrawal is not a surprise to anyone, apparently even to the candidate himself. He remained non-committal about ruling out running for a third gubernatorial term, which froze most of the Washington Democratic potential aspirants in place. The rhetoric blocked them from overtly assembling a statewide campaign since most correctly interpreted the political tea leaves as meaning that Inslee would, in fact, be back to seek re-election.

With 10 candidates now qualified for the next debate since former HUD Secretary Julian Castro just joined the top-tier candidates of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg who are also joined by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and businessman Andrew Yang, it remains to be seen just how many of those who won’t meet the qualifications will continue.

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Nevada Looms Large for Biden, Harris

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2019 — The Nevada Caucus is third on the presidential nomination schedule and it appears the Silver State nomination event will carry more weight than it has in past elections.

After the Iowa Caucus (Feb. 3) and New Hampshire primary (Feb. 11), the candidates will stream into Nevada for the Feb. 22 caucus event that is traditionally held on a Saturday.

Nevada could be critically important for two of the candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, should the first two states evolve as currently predicted.

Kicking the cycle off in Iowa, Biden may find himself in a similar position to that of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Coming into the state as the clear front runner, Clinton stumbled in Iowa as she technically won the caucus vote, but only after a series of coin flips were conducted to break ties … and she won them all.

The rules are different in 2020, and it will be easier for more people to participate, but Iowa voters tend to like the Midwestern candidates, something Biden is not. Additionally, with Sen. Sanders proving he has a base in the state and two Midwestern candidates in the field, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the chances of Biden faltering here are actually quite high.

Then the candidates will move to Sens. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) New England backyard in New Hampshire. In 2016, Sen. Sanders upended Clinton with a 60 percent victory, so Biden’s ability to derail both Sanders and Warren in this state will prove to be a difficult task. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Biden could move into Nevada in search of a badly needed win.

Sen. Harris has a major advantage in that her home state of California will award 416 first-ballot delegates, a figure 45 percent larger than even the second-largest state, which is Texas. But, in order to maximize this advantage, Sen. Harris will have to be competitive in the First Four states.

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The Committed Choices

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 21, 2019 — The Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, of which many Democratic presidential primary questions were asked, but one was particularly interesting.

The survey was taken from a universe of 5,766 panelists who agreed to respond to online Pew polls. For this study, conducted during the July 22 through August 4 period, 4,175 of those individuals did in fact respond, or 72.4 percent of those queried. From this respondent subset, 1,757 individuals who self-identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters were questioned about the presidential primary.

The ballot test was not particularly noteworthy in that the results were mostly in line with other national polls being reported within the same time frame. According to Pew, former Vice President Joe Biden led the group, but with just a 26 percent preference score, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 16 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 12 percent, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claiming 11 percent support. All others, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg polled in single digits.

But the most interesting question had to do with the individuals’ committed choices. The group was asked about their enthusiasm toward the candidates and whether they were attracted to only their stated choice or if other Democratic contenders also excited them. This question was asked to gauge strength of support.

The aggregate response showed that 35 percent were only enthused about their candidate of choice, while 63 percent said several of the candidates enthused them. Though he finished a rather distant third on the overall ballot test, it is Sen. Sanders who registers the most committed support.

A majority of the Sanders voters, 51 percent, responded that they are only enthused about his candidacy and feel the same about none of the other Democratic contenders. He is the only candidate to command a such a high committed support percentage.

Biden registered 45 percent who said they are only enthused for him, but 53 percent said others attracted their attention, as well. The candidate who had the least committed support, despite her defined rise in most national polls, was Sen. Warren. Only 19 percent of her voters say they are only committed to her, while 80 percent of her contingent are also enthused by other candidates. Sen. Harris scored slightly better, with 22 percent saying only she enthuses them, while 78 percent of her voters see other candidates they also like.

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Rep. Kennedy Considering Senate Bid

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Newton)

Aug. 20, 2019 — Consistent reports throughout this year suggesting that Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D) is going to face a serious 2020 Democratic primary may well come to fruition. As has been the case for several weeks, Markey has already drawn two opponents, first, activist attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan declared, and then author and corporate executive Steve Pemberton followed in officially announcing his Senate candidacy.

Included in the primary challenge reports was always the speculation that four-term Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) could enter the race, though the young 38-year-old congressman consistently denied the conjecture … until now. Reports over the weekend say that Rep. Kennedy is telling confidants he is considering launching a Senate campaign, which would make the Sept. 15, 2020 Massachusetts Democratic primary a national campaign.

While Sen. Markey’s current opponents are credible, particularly Pemberton, whose childhood best-selling autobiography of growing up with an abusive Foster family after being abandoned as a young child was adapted into a movie, neither would obviously have the stature of being a member of the Kennedy family.

Rep. Kennedy is the son of former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II (D-MA) and the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy. He was originally elected from the Newton/Taunton-anchored 4th District in the 2012 election when then-Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) retired from Congress. Kennedy has easily been re-elected three times and has averaged 74.9 percent of the vote in his four general elections.

The congressman has been in two Democratic primaries, including the open seat contest in 2012. Even as the non-incumbent, Kennedy scored a 90.1 percent primary victory. In the one intra-party challenge he received since his original election during this past September, Kennedy scored a 93.4 percent re-nomination victory.

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Warren Ahead in Iowa & Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Aug. 19, 2019 — The Change Research organization, which has previously conducted simultaneous multi-state polling within the same sampling period, just repeated their process. This time, the firm surveyed likely Democratic voters in both Iowa and Wisconsin over the Aug. 9-11 period and found Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren topping the field in both states.

As we know, the Iowa Caucus, with only 41 first-ballot delegate votes, is an important trend-setting state because of being placed first on the national voting calendar. In 2016, after her campaign was selling Hillary Clinton as the “inevitable nominee,” she barely won the first vote in Iowa, which arguably began a downward spiral for her campaign. Though Clinton obviously won the party nomination, the long fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) politically weakened her for the general election campaign.

According to the Change Iowa data (621 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus participants through online communication), Sen. Warren would lead Sen. Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), 28-17-17-13-8 percent, respectively. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who needs to make a major play in her neighboring state, still only shows two percent support, tying her with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), billionaire Tom Steyer, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, but behind the three percent score of both Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).

Biden may have a similar problem to that of Clinton, and it could prove to be a major stumbling block. As the presumptive national front-runner, under-performing in Iowa would show clear vulnerability. Traveling the following week to Sens. Warren and Sanders’ New England backyard for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary after sustaining an Iowa loss would strengthen the two local candidates and possibly cause Biden to again fall.

This scenario would be quite damaging to the former vice president. Because his momentum would significantly slow, re-starting for the succeeding Nevada Caucus becomes very difficult and he would need a boost here before heading to the South Carolina primary and the southern states-dominated Super Tuesday. Currently, Biden is polling very strongly throughout the south, but faltering early could quickly change that dynamic.

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