Ranking the Democratic Candidates

 While the impeachment inquiry continues to command most of the attention of the mainstream media, in the background the Democratic presidential candidates continue their slog towards the February 3rd Iowa caucuses. Here’s the BB perspective on how these candidates are doing.  And a prediction as to what the race will look like coming out of “Super Tuesday,” March 3rd.

1.Elizabeth Warren: Massachusetts Senator Warren garners the number one slot for two reasons: she has the most momentum and she has “out wonked” all the other candidates.  Elizabeth has a plan for everything stretching from the very serious (how to deal with global climate change) to the other extreme (how to get Americans to eat more vegetables).

In addition to would-be-dictator Trump, Americans are beset by a frightening array of problems:, including climate change, wealth inequity, and cancerous capitalism.  Senator Warren is the only candidate to have a well-thought-out plan on all of these.  It’s convenient to characterize Warren as a candidate of the left and others, such as Joe Biden, as a candidate of the “center,” but the reality is that Elizabeth wants big change in American society and many of the other candidates — such as Biden — seek modest changes.  The BB perspective: The U.S. needs big changes.

2. Joe Biden: Former Vice-President Biden is a nice guy who was a worthy sidekick to Barack Obama.  Can he run the show on his own?  I’m not convinced.  Biden seems old — he’ll turn 77 at the end of the month — and lacking the energy required to run the big show.

Some Democrats are attracted to Joe because he’s a “safe” choice.  They believe he’s the most likely to beat Trump: The current Real Clear Politics poll of polls shows Biden beating Trump by 10.2 percent.  However the same poll shows Warren beating Trump by 7.3 percent.  So they both beat Trump — and Biden has way more name recognition than Warren does.

The election has two steps: beat Trump and fix America.  Warren would do a better job on second step.

3. Bernie Sanders: Bernie doesn’t seem to have the same fire that he did in 2016.  He seems tired — although not as tired as Biden, who is one year younger.  Bernie has been “out wonked” by Elizabeth Warren.

On October 1st, Senator Sanders had a heart attack.  A month later, the attack doesn’t seem to have slowed him down.  Nonetheless, while his fundraising is ticking along, Bernie has slipped slightly in the polls. (For example, the latest New Hampshire Quinnipiac poll shows Bernie running behind Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg.)

BB prediction: after losing the New Hampshire primary, Bernie will drop out and support Elizabeth Warren.

4. Pete Buttigieg:  So far, the big surprise of the Democratic presidential primary contest has been Mayor Pete.  (In the second quarter, Buttigieg raised more money than all other Democratic contenders — $24.9 million.)  Mayor Pete is very smart and has a remarkable public presence.

If Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are candidates of the left, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are “moderates.”  For those Democrats who initially supported Biden, and now think he is too old, many have shifted to Mayor Pete.  (Who is 37; forty years younger than Biden.)

BB prediction: After “Super Tuesday,” March 3rd, Biden will drop out and the competition will narrow to Warren, Buttigieg, and the billionaires.

By most accounts, Warren, Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg have more than 75 percent of the primary votes of Democrats.  No other candidate has double digit support.  Why?

The women: Harris, Klobuchar, and Gabbard.  Six months ago Senator Kamala Harris was a hot political property — challenging Warren, Sanders, and Biden as a frontrunner.  Now her support has greatly diminished.  Two problems: Harris didn’t give voters a clear reason to support her and she got out wonked by Warren and Sanders.

I’ve expected Senator Amy Klobuchar to surge in Iowa.  For “moderates” she seems like a good alternative to Joe Biden.  Instead, Pete Buttigieg has taken this role.

Tulsi Gabbard keeps hanging around.  The “maverick” candidate.  Some say that if Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, Gabbard will be his choice for VP.

The billionaires: Bloomberg and Steyer. The big news this past weekend is that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination.  (He’s the sixth richest person in the U.S.; one of our 2153 billionaires.)  Bloomberg has good liberal credentials — for example, his positions on climate change and gun control — but he isn’t an exciting candidate.

For months San Franciscan Tom Steyer has been pushing for the impeachment of Donald Trump.  (And for taking action on climate change.)  HIs hearts in the right place but I don’t see Steyer becoming a frontrunner — the latest California Democratic primary poll shows Elizabeth Warren in 1st place with 27 percent of the vote and Steyer in ninth place with 1 percent.

The “outsiders”: Yang, Booker, and Castro.  Andrew Yang is another “maverick” candidate — who has gotten more traction than Tulsi Gabbard.  Nonetheless, his national support continues to languish in the single digits.  If Biden or Sanders falter, will Yang get more support?  I don’t think so.

What’s the story with Cory Booker?  He does well in the debates but it doesn’t seem to translate into more voter support.  I expect Booker to drop out before Iowa.

Several months ago, Julian Castro surged and then faltered.  He’s a candidate who looks better on paper than he does in person.  I expect him to drop out before Iowa.

(As this was being written, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick entered the New Hampshire primary.  It’s another indication that “moderate” Democrats aren’t happy with Biden.)

Summary: The competition for the Democratic nomination will come down to Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.