Final Four?

I thought today would be a good opportunity to take one of my periodic looks at the 2020 Democratic presidential field. Let’s explore.

The field is starting to narrow a bit in advance of the third debate(s). John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Eric Swalwell and Scott Moulton have dropped out as of this writing. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if another candidate(s) drops out by the time you read this. I’ll anger a lot of good Democrats that I have respect for but I think the race has already come down to four who have a legitimate shot at the nomination. They are Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

As of this writing ten have qualified for the third round: Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren and Andrew Yang. Anyone who can’t make the cut for the debates is simply fooling themselves if they feel they can come from behind. I simply don’t see it happening.

All four can stay in as long as they want to. Biden is semi-retired; the three Senators are not up this cycle. Current polling shows all of them beating Trump in a mythical head to head matchup. That is important since it appears that most Democratic primary voters are willing to wiggle a bit on policy as long as the candidate can win in November of 2020. Personally I like all four on policy. I’m certain the press and to a degree the campaigns will play up the differences, but on major issues at their core they are all looking to get to the same point. Their proposed route may be a bit different. After the 2016 election and with the expectation of foreign interference nothing is a sure thing. Theoretically the Democrats should be able to run a dead dog and still win (ala 1976) but I’m not taking that to the bank! Like all candidates the four all have vulnerabilities – some fair, some certainly not – and Trump will lie about them anyway.

In the wake of El Paso I think O’Rourke got a boost. We still have the two Texans in the race – the other bring Castro – and at least one has to drop to take on John Cornyn for the Senate. Watching what happens there will be very interesting.

Cory Booker’s seat is up in 2020. I have little doubt that the Democrats can defend it with or without Booker but if he can’t get to the White House I think he’d like to keep the seat. While I like him and his policies a lot I don’t see him making a comeback. His campaign never really caught fire. I think his immediate future is in the Senate or perhaps a Cabinet position in 2021. In either event the clock is ticking for him to drop out.

Amy Klobuchar can hang around for a while and enhance both her national reputation and her “resume” for the Attorney General spot in a Democratic administration. I like her and her policies. My guess is that she got buried in the huge field.

Pete Buttigieg is thus far the breakout star of the 2020 race. I just don’t think this is his year but I like his political future.

My guess is that Andrew Yang will be an asterisk when the history of the 2020 race is written. He has proven to be brilliant if a bit too far thinking for “mass consumption”. I doubt he would be interested and available but he would make one great Senior Advisor to the President!

I’d like to mention three who it appears will not make the stage: Steve Bullock, Tulsi Gabbard and Tim Ryan. It will come as no surprise that I feel Bullock needs to drop out and run for the Senate in Montana. That is a winnable seat but only by a very strong candidate – Bullock is that candidate. Gabbard and Ryan are both House members who have to defend their seats in 2020. Since they are going no place in the presidential race I’d suggest they get to it and soon.

The first four “primary” states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) will tell us a lot and possibly determine the race. Well, there is my assessment at the moment. I’ll leave you with a tease: If I had to endorse at this moment my pick is in the “final four”.

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