Monday, August 26, 2019

The Winnowing Begins

The Democratic primary field is finally starting to winnow down a bit. Some candidates, like John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, and Seth Moulton, have formally dropped out. But the bigger crunch on more marginal candidates might be the failure to qualify for the next debate. Currently on the chopping block, due to low polling figures, donor numbers, or both, are:

  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Tom Steyer
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Gov. Steve Bullock
  • Ex-Rep. John Delaney
  • Rep. Tim Ryan
Will anyone miss any of these people once they're gone? I wouldn't have minded a little more Kirsten Gillibrand, but the fact is her campaign never really seemed to get off the ground and I've come to accept that. I might have said the same for Steve Bullock, except he falls in the "should be running for Senate" category. 

Beyond that, this is a list people who were always going to be also-rans (Ryan, Delaney, de Blasio) and people who were always going to be also-rans and also are deeply terrible (Gabbard, Williamson). Tom Steyer's decision to pump millions into a vanity campaign that had zero chance of winning instead of investing in things like voter access or state legislative races is also pretty hard to swallow.

Technically, these candidates still could soldier on, but one has to think the writing is on the wall. The remaining candidates who've qualified for the next debate are:
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Sen. Cory Booker
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro
  • Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke
  • Andrew Yang
That, to me, is a far more manageable field. Yang's the oddball, Buttigieg I think has already peaked, and I'm pretty well over O'Rourke at this point, but I think a field of this size offers some of the more middle players like Castro or Booker at least the potential space to grow -- and if they can't make a move now, that's a good sign that they never will.

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