By Jim Ellis
May 6, 2019 — A new Democratic presidential candidate entered the race late last week, one whom we didn’t expect to see this soon.Despite undergoing prostate cancer surgery last month, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet says he has already received a “clean bill of health” and is embarking upon his national political effort. Now at 22 candidates in the field of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election, eyes turn to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock who could be the last widely discussed potential candidate yet to make a decision about forming a campaign.
It’s difficult to see how Sen. Bennet breaks through to the top tier, however. He is not well known outside of Colorado and starts well behind most of the field, putting him in a difficult position from which to even qualify for the first two debate forums scheduled for late June and the end of July.
To earn a debate podium, all candidates must either tally at least one percent support in three Democratic National Committee designated polls, or attract financial support from 65,000 donors, from which they must have a minimum of 200 in at least 20 states. For the lesser known candidates, debate participation is a necessity in order to propel themselves into serious contention for the nomination.
Furthermore, Sen. Bennet doesn’t even have his home state electorate to himself. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is also in the race, a man who Bennet once served as chief of staff. Just two days ago, Colorado moved its new primary – they used to apportion delegates through the caucus system – to March 3, the 2020 campaign’s Super Tuesday, which could serve to boost one of the two Centennial State candidates. Yet, with both men in the race, the state’s 67 first-ballot delegate contingent will prove less of a base for either one.
The other main presidential news concerns a Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire voters. According to the new data (April 25-28; 429 likely New Hampshire Democratic voters), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who was previously leading in several state polls, has now fallen well back and into a second place tie with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 12 percent apiece, and significantly behind former Vice President Joe Biden’s 20 percent mark.
In fourth position is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with just eight percent, followed closely by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who posts six percent, and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who both trail with three percent backing.
The Biden announcement bump nationally and in the Granite State has been noteworthy, and almost solely coming at Sen. Sanders’ expense. Just two weeks ago, for example, the University of New Hampshire’s small-sample poll (April 10-18; 241 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) gave Sen. Sanders an 18-12-11 percent advantage over Biden and Buttigieg.
The Suffolk poll is interesting and even surprising regarding the positioning of the candidates placing ahead of others who registered no support. Even a one percent standing is important in determining debate participation, though the Suffolk polling series is not one of those the Democratic National Committee recognizes to gauge qualification. Still, the SU data gives us an idea as to who could register enough polling support, and those who right now are dangerously close to not qualifying.
Those at the one percent level in the order Suffolk lists, are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), businessman Andrew Yang, and ex-Rep. John Delaney (D-MD). Those not registering support were Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); author Marianne Williamson; Sen. Bennet; former HUD Secretary Julian Castro; ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper; Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam; Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA); ex-Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK), and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA).
Though Biden is clearly getting a major announcement bump and Sen. Sanders is falling back from his standing of just two weeks ago, the Democratic field is very fluid, meaning we could see unpredictable change coming in the succeeding weeks and months.