The Scorecard – Part II

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2019 — Today we continue with our overview of the 24 Democratic presidential candidates. Yesterday we outlined the first 12, and today we’ll finish up with the remaining candidates (listed alphabetically):

• Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO): Eschewing a Senate race against first-term Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, Hickenlooper, after leaving the Colorado governor’s office in January, became a presidential candidate in early March. But, his early results have been uninspiring.
Lagging in the polls but getting just enough to qualify for a debate podium, Hickenlooper is attempting to establish himself as a reasonable left-of-center candidate, but the constituent segment responding to such a message may simply be too small to make him viable. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s presence in the race even cuts into Hickenlooper’s geographic support base. It is likely that the former two-term Colorado governor and Denver mayor will continue to languish in the second tier for the duration of his candidacy.

• Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA): One of the also-ran candidates, Gov. Inslee, one of only two state chief executives in the field, is not a factor for the nomination. In fact, he has previously indicated that he would not rule out running for a third term as Washington’s governor next year if he fares poorly in the early presidential voting. It appears barely registering on key polls will be enough to place him in the presidential forums, but it is unlikely that he will receive enough of a boost from those events to make him a viable candidate.

• Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): From her announcement event where she spoke at an outside podium in a Minnesota snow storm, Sen. Klobuchar has yet to catch fire in any meaningful way. As the only candidate from the Midwest, Klobuchar has the opportunity of cobbling together a geographic coalition. The Iowa Caucus will be an important event for her to establish a legitimacy foothold. The Hawkeye State presidential electorate usually looks favorably on neighboring candidates, so it will be important for her to use this first-in-the-nation caucus as a way to become a top-tier candidate.

• Mayor Wayne Messam (D-Miramar, Fla.): Though Miramar is larger than Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s South Bend, Indiana, this local mayor has yet to catch fire. Many media publications do not even count him as part of the candidates’ list. Mayor Messam is unlikely to qualify for the candidate forums and faces major obstacles in developing national credibility for this presidential race.

• Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): Coming to national notoriety for leading Democratic opposition to Nancy Pelosi again becoming Speaker, Massachusetts Rep. Moulton announced his presidential campaign in late April after making multiple visits to neighboring New Hampshire, site of the nation’s first primary.
It will be difficult for Moulton to jump into the first tier but has a strategy of performing well in New Hampshire as a way of propelling his campaign. While he is unlikely to seriously compete for the nomination, he has the ability to take votes away from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in their adjacent state. For the latter candidate, Moulton’s presence could be worrisome.

• Ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX): While originally viewed as a top-tier candidate, and particularly so after he raised more than $6 million in the first 24 hours after announcing, former Rep. O’Rourke has seemingly fallen by the wayside. Now scoring only in single-digits in all polling, O’Rourke has seen Mayor Buttigieg take the wind out of his sails. He will need to rebound in the debates in order to re-establish his early credibility. The Texas primary, with its 228 first ballot delegates and scheduled for March 3, should be a boon to him on the all-important delegate count. But, if he fails to cash-in on his home state, the O’Rourke presidential campaign may not be able to last.

• Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH): Another of the long-shot candidates, Rep. Ryan is another that will try to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s centrist segment at a time when the majority of contenders are trying to court the left. Rep. Ryan could also be one of the candidates who attempts to accumulate delegates through individual congressional districts since he is unlikely to break through the 15 percent threshold in statewide voting. While not qualifying for the national candidate forums through fundraising, Ryan will have to depend upon polling as his ticket to a debate podium.

• Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Clearly the second strongest candidate in the early going and the only candidate to attract more than 500,000 donors, Sen. Sanders is trying to capitalize on his 2016 showing as the base for capturing the party nomination in this election. He was beginning to outpace former Vice President Joe Biden in national and statewide polling, but that was quickly eclipsed when the latter man made his formal announcement.
Now, Sen. Sanders must go on the attack to bring Biden back to the pack while ensuring that his leftward base remains intact. With so many candidates now in the race, Sanders could be in danger of losing some of his younger support to one of the more youthful progressive candidates.

• Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA): Representing a district adjacent to the eastern part of San Francisco Bay, Rep. Swalwell took the better part of a year to finally decide to run nationally. He is the longest of shots and has the further timing problem of having to drop his presidential bid even before the first voting begins if he is to keep his congressional seat.
The California primary combines the state’s regular nomination schedule with the presidential vote, meaning Swalwell will have to risk the House seat in order to become a serious presidential candidate. He has pledged not to run for both offices, and already strong Democratic congressional candidates are beginning to declare. Expect the congressman to return to the House race, since it is highly unlikely that he will make any national inroads. Swalwell will not be a factor in deciding the presidential nomination.

• Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Sen. Warren is always viewed as a top candidate, but her early polling numbers have been disappointing. Though running third in some national polls, Sen. Warren rarely breaks into double digits, and trails the two leaders, ex-VP Biden and Sen. Sanders, sometimes by more than 20 points. Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton being in the race could potentially draw some of the state’s 91 first-ballot delegates from her, which are numbers she will need in order to become a serious contender.

• Marianne Williamson: The author of four number one New York Times best sellers, Williamson is making a long-shot bid for the presidency. Not even listed on many candidates’ rosters, it is difficult to see a scenario where she becomes a first-tier contender.

• Andrew Yang: Another of the obscure candidates, Yang is promoting his Universal Basic Income program where the government would give every adult $1,000 per month. Becoming an internet sensation, Yang has already expanded his “Yang Gang” to be one of the first candidates to qualify for the debates by attracting over 65,000 campaign contributors. Though his grassroots army is impressive, his lack of name ID and familiarity will keep him languishing within the second tier of candidates. Though he has the potential of becoming a conversation piece, Yang will not be a serious factor in the nomination fight.

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