Democratic Primary News

O’Rourke drops out. Harris falters. Biden is still ahead, but his lead is shrinking.

  • Beto O’Rourke has dropped out.
  • Joe Biden has pulled ahead of the other candidates in the endorsement primary.
  • Elizabeth Warren has released a plan to pay for Medicare-for-all.
  • Kamala Harris has pulled out of New Hampshire and is focusing entirely on Iowa.
  • Biden is at 27 percent support in recent polls, followed by Warren at 21, Bernie Sanders at 17, Pete Buttigieg at 8 and Harris at 5.
  • Biden is down from a high of 40 percent in May, when Warren was polling at just 8 percent.


  • I called O’Rourke’s candidacy a mistake from the start. He came close to defeating Ted Cruz in deep-red Texas in 2016. He should have run against John Cornyn, Texas’ other Republican senator, in 2020. With both O’Rourke and former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro — the two most popular Democratic politicians in Texas — running for president, chances of the Senate changing hands next year are reduced. Both men have put ego ahead of party interest.
  • If it wasn’t for Warren doubling down on a hugely unpopular and politically dubious plan to nationalize health insurance, I would consider her the strongest candidate. She still may be, but the fact that she has raked in fewer endorsements from party leaders than Harris, let alone Biden, is telling.
  • Unlike Sanders, who is open to raising taxes on anyone but the poor to pay for national health insurance, Warren would get the money (she claims to need $2 trillion per year; a low estimate, but still a 50 percent increase in federal spending) from corporations and the wealthy. All the money employers now spend on private health-care plans for their employees would be converted into taxes. Large corporations would pay a surcharge. Wealth taxes would double from 3 to 6 percent. And Warren would keep costs down by capping what the government pays doctors and hospitals. Even Americans who support these changes (and few do) will recognize that it amount to a massive shift from the private economy to the public sector.

Read more

  • Jonah Goldberg argues for canceling primaries and going back to smoke-filled rooms, in which party elites pick the candidates.
  • Olivia Nuzzi on Biden’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Noah Smith on how Warren has cleverly framed Medicare-for-all as not requiring middle-class tax increases.