My Take on the Democratic Primary

I learned in 2016 not to make predictions. First Brexit happened. Then Donald Trump won the American presidential election. I didn’t expect either. Indeed, I went so far as to urge Republicans in the United States to purge Trump’s nativists from their party after what I was sure would be his defeat.

I allowed my own biases to reject what the polls showed to be very real possibilities. Rather than improve my predictions and try harder to be neutral, my resolution has been to prioritize analysis of what is happening over what could happen and own up to my biases, sometimes explicitly, so you can better make up your mind. This is an opinion blog, after all, not a newspaper.

To that end, I’m giving you my take on the Democratic presidential primaries, which kick off in Iowa on February 3. I don’t think I’m a partisan for any candidate, but my thoughts and feelings about them probably inform everything I write about the election. Best then to share them.

I’m excluding Michael Bennet, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. All are polling under 4 percent nationally and far below the 15 percent support required to qualify for delegates in Iowa. Read more “My Take on the Democratic Primary”

Democratic Primary News

Hillary Clinton Cory Booker
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks with New Jersey senator Cory Booker in Newark, June 1, 2016 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)
  • Cory Booker has dropped out of the presidential contest.
  • Bernie Sanders is criticized for going negative. His campaign has accused Joe Biden of “betraying” black voters (Biden is the first choice of many black voters) and Elizabeth Warren of being the candidate of wealthy white liberals. NBC reports it’s bringing back memories of 2016: “Sanders, his supporters and his surrogates go on the attack; Sanders downplays or dismisses the attacks; and the party becomes more divided.”
  • Biden still leads in the endorsement primary, but it’s slow going. Only a third of Democratic governors, senators and representatives have endorsed a candidate. Party leaders may be waiting to see what happens in the first few primaries before making up their minds. Or perhaps this will be like the Republican primary of 2016, when “the” party collectively decided not to decide.
  • Michael Bloomberg has said that, even if he loses, his campaign — the biggest and most expensive of the Democratic candidates — will remain in place to help defeat Donald Trump. He has also shot down criticism, notably from Warren, that he’s trying to buy the nomination, saying, “Do you want me to spend more or less?” Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Primary News

Michael Bloomberg
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg makes a speech in Stockton, California, December 11, 2019 (Mike Bloomberg 2020)
  • Julián Castro has thrown his support behind Elizabeth Warren. This has helped Warren move up in the endorsement primary, which tracks support from prominent party actors. She is now in second place, behind Joe Biden but ahead of Bernie Sanders.
  • Although Sanders has raised the most money in total, Biden is ahead in donations from Americans who also give to the Democratic Party. This is perhaps unsurprising given that Sanders, who isn’t formally a Democrat, is running as much against the Democratic establishment as he is against the Republicans. Warren and Pete Buttigieg share second place in big-dollar donations from politically engaged Democrats, but neither is far behind Biden, suggesting there isn’t a consensus among donors yet.
  • Biden continues to lead the polls with 25-30 percent support nationwide. Biden shares first place in the Iowa polls with Buttigieg and Sanders. Each has around 20 percent support. Warren is at 15. It’s a similar picture in New Hampshire, where Sanders — from neighboring Vermont — is slightly more popular. Nevada and South Carolina haven’t been polled since November, but at the time Biden was ahead in both states.
  • California shows a three-way race between Biden, Sanders and Warren. Texas has Biden in the lead. Both states will vote on March 3, Super Tuesday, and together send 644 out of 3,979 pledged delegates (16 percent) to the convention in July.
  • Michael Bloomberg has moved into fifth place with 5-6 percent support nationally. He has also hired some 500 additional staffers across thirty states, bringing his total campaign staff to 800 — more than any other candidate. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Primary News

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)
  • Julián Castro, Barack Obama’s housing secretary, has ended his presidential bid.
  • Bernie Sanders out-fundraised the other candidates in the final quarter of last year, bringing in $34.5 million against $22.7 million for Joe Biden. President Donald Trump raised $46 million for his reelection campaign in the same period.
  • Trump’s airstrike against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq has divided Democrats. Only Sanders and Andrew Yang opposed it outright. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

The Underestimated Joe Biden

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9, 2019
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)

Former vice president Joe Biden has consistently led the polls, with 25 to 30 percent popular support, as well as the endorsement primary, which tracks support from prominent party members, for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

The only other candidate with such a solid base is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, but his support is under 20 percent and few elected and party officials back him.

So why are we treating Sanders’ supporters as true believers and Biden’s, as Jonathan V. Last puts it, as “just a group of voters who haven’t abandoned him yet”? Read more “The Underestimated Joe Biden”

Democratic Primary News

Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California visits the aircraft carrier USS Teddy Roosevelt, June 2, 2017
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California visits the aircraft carrier USS Teddy Roosevelt, June 2, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)
  • California senator Kamala Harris has ended her presidential bid.
  • Support for Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has fallen from a high of 26 percent to under 15 percent since she announced her Medicare-for-all plan.
  • Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is officially in the race and trying an unconventional strategy: bypassing the first four primary states.
  • Former vice president Joe Biden remains at the top of the field with 25 to 30 percent support. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Party Elites Worry Candidates Aren’t Up to the Task

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, August 27, 2014
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, August 27, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)
  • Deval Patrick, the center-left former governor of Massachusetts, and a friend of former president Barack Obama, has entered the Democratic presidential primary.
  • Obama himself has warned candidates to “pay some attention to where voters actually are.”

    The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff.

  • Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a centrist, has filed paperwork in Alabama, which has an early cut-off date, just in case he decides to run.
  • Even Hillary Clinton, who lost to Donald Trump in 2016, is not ruling out another bid, telling the BBC, “I’m under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it.”
  • Democratic Party officials have been slow to endorse candidates this year. Read more “Democratic Party Elites Worry Candidates Aren’t Up to the Task”

Romney-to-Clinton Voters Prefer Biden

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8 (Gage Skidmore)

In the six states that could decide the outcome of the 2020 election in America, Joe Biden outpolls his Democratic rivals, in particular among minority voters and white voters with a college degree.

The New York Times reports that middle-income voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin prefer the relatively centrist former vice president over the more left-wing Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The head-to-head figures against Donald Trump are mostly within the margin of error and probably not predictive a year out from the election.

But they do give Democratic primary voters vital information as they make up their minds about whom to nominate. Read more “Romney-to-Clinton Voters Prefer Biden”

Democratic Primary News

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)

Who Pays for Medicare-for-All?

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27 (Gage Skidmore)

Replacing private health insurance with a single-payer, government-run system is hugely unpopular in the United States, but that hasn’t convinced two of the Democrats’ three top-polling presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — to back away from it.

In the most recent televised debate, Warren, who is polling neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden, couldn’t say how much “Medicare-for-all” would cost or who would pay for it. She has since promised to release a detailed plan.

Sanders, to his credit, admitted it would require tax increases. But by how much, and for whom, he didn’t say.

He can’t. Nationalizing health insurance for 327 million Americans is such a huge and complex undertaking that nobody knows how much it would cost.

Which calls into question the wisdom of doing it at all. Read more “Who Pays for Medicare-for-All?”