I’m Karen Tumulty, and this is Round 40. I’ve gathered you all here to tell you that, yes, the rumors are true. After much careful consideration, I have also decided to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Thank you.
The bombshell news that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is seriously considering entering the 2020 race (copycat) speaks to something you see in the polls and hear everywhere you go in the early states this primary season. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have their differences on the issues, but they are united on what they see as their top priority in picking a 2020 presidential nominee. It’s what Ken Tentarelli, a man from Newbury, N.H., told me last weekend in Manchester: “The thing that matters most to me is not who I would like, but who is electable.”
Until now, the “electability” argument has been working mostly in favor of one candidate in the top tier of the crowded Democratic primary field: former vice president Joe Biden. Bloomberg’s late move is only the most recent evidence that Biden’s performance as a candidate is not inspiring the confidence that he could actually deliver next November.
But is it true that the rest of the field falls short when it comes to the question of electability? The newest Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests otherwise.
When the question is asked directly about the top five contenders — “Who do you think has the best chance to defeat Donald Trump in the general election?” — Biden still has a strong advantage. He was picked by 42 percent of the poll respondents, virtually the same as the 45 percent he garnered in The Post’s July poll.
But other numbers in the poll suggest a new dynamic emerging. Back in July, Biden was the only contender to enjoy a double-digit lead in a theoretical matchup with President Trump. In the October poll, he had expanded that advantage, to 17 percentage points from 14 points in July. But that was virtually the same as what Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders registered when the question was asked about them. Kamala D. Harris and Pete Buttigieg each had an 11-point lead when matched against Trump.
So what does this mean? One possibility is that Democratic voters, more confident in the quality of their candidates, may indeed begin looking past “electability” to the issue stances of the candidates. Another — and this is what I hope — is that the candidates will be pressed to better explain how they would actually implement their policies if elected. We are now within 90 days of the first ballots being cast in Iowa. Voters understand that the time for a reality check has arrived. Do the candidates?
— Karen Tumulty
Don’t forget to click on the chart’s yellow highlighted text to see the rest of the Ranking Committee’s annotations.
|Position||Challenger||Change Over Last Ranking|
|3. (TIE)||Pete Buttigieg||UP 1|
|3. (TIE)||Bernie Sanders||—|
|5.||Amy Klobuchar||UP 1|
|6.||Kamala D. Harris||DOWN 1|
|9.||Michael Bloomberg||RETURNS TO RANKING|
Falls off ranking: Tom Steyer
Rest in peace: Beto O’Rourke
Last week’s ranking: Round 39 | If a spooky historical parallel continues, Biden is due for a breakdown
From the Annotations
Biden’s support tends to come from African Americans and older non-college whites. There’s nothing about the billionaire who used to leave New York on his private jet every Friday to spend the weekend at his Bermuda estate that suggests those voters will swarm to him.
Henry Olsen, on Michael Bloomberg
Good night, sweet prince. I guess you were not “born to be in it” after all. My editor asked me to write something about Beto because no one else had, which proves pretty conclusively that it was this Texan’s time to go.
Molly Roberts, on Beto O'Rourke
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, please let’s find something to keep another billionaire from getting bored.
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