Democratic Primary News

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

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9 (Gage Skidmore)
  • 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.

Analysis

  • 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.