By Jim EllisJan. 15, 2020 — With less than three weeks from the first votes being cast in the Democratic presidential nomination process, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced via Twitter that he is ending his national effort.
The move is not surprising, as Sen. Booker rarely reached or surpassed three percent support in any presidential primary poll. Like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who left the race just before the California candidate filing deadline in early December, visions of Senate re-election may have at least in part driven the timing of Booker’s move. While Sen. Harris doesn’t face voters in a strong Democratic state until 2022, Sen. Booker is on the New Jersey ballot this year.
Before the presidential race began, New Jersey legislators and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) changed the state election law to allow candidates to run simultaneously for more than one office. The move was obviously made to assist Sen. Booker’s presidential efforts. Now, however, the simultaneous filing option becomes moot.
Leaving the race now provides him an excuse for finishing poorly in the first four voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, though he filed for each primary and caucus vote and will still be on the ballot in at least New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Though Sen. Booker appears safe for re-election, the New Jersey filing deadline isn’t until March 30. Poor finishes in all primary and caucus states could have left him in a vulnerable state, and while the Garden State is highly unlikely to elect a Republican to the Senate, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a strong Democrat could have begun to mount a primary challenge. Now we can expect Sen. Booker to invest all of his political capital into cementing his re-election for a second full six-year term.
The Morning Consult organization in their regular tracking finds Sen. Booker’s support splitting in similar manner to the overall Democratic electorate. With him leaving the race, the Booker voters’ second choice selections yield 23 percent breaking toward former Vice President Joe Biden, 20 percent to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 14 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and 12 percent in South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s direction. With Booker only receiving two percent support from the aggregate MC sample, his departure doesn’t give anyone a significant boost.
Sen. Booker’s exit, along with that of author Marianne Williamson, who finally dropped her bid late last week, means that 12 active candidates remain in the Democratic race.
Six of those 12 participated in last night’s televised presidential forum from Des Moines, Iowa. They are: Biden, Sanders, Warren and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mayor Buttigieg, and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.
The three most active candidates not qualifying for the Iowa debate are former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and businessman Andrew Yang. The remaining contenders are Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), former US Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
Yang and Booker had qualified for the Iowa debate through the donor threshold but failed to achieve the minimum polling support requirement. Because he is not accepting any campaign contributions, Bloomberg did not meet the donor standard and therefore will not participate in any debate. Bennet, Delaney, and Patrick did not qualify in either fundraising or polling and it is unlikely they will for any future forum.