Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Early Contests

It's been a while since I've analyzed presidential politics.  We've had two early contests, so it seems like the perfect time.

First of all, I thought Kamala Harris and Cory Booker brought a lot to the process, especially Harris.  I was a little surprised when neither caught fire and both dropped out of the race relatively early.  Months ago, Newt Gingrich predicted Harris would be the Democratic nominee, and I saw the wisdom in that.  Her campaign never caught fire.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have to be smiling after strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sanders' age and recent heart attack don't seem to be issues, at least during this early stage of the campaign.  There are concerns about Buttigieg's ability to draw minority voters, but that's not a factor in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is struggling.  She has to show some traction, and fast.  It seems like many of her followers drifted over to the Sanders camp.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar impressed many with her performance during last week's debate on ABC, and she pulled decent numbers in New Hampshire, but not enough to really be a factor. That could change, if and when voters seek a moderate Democrat.  If Klobuchar stays in the upper-middle of the pack, she has to become a prime pick for the second place spot on the ticket.  I could see her getting a major boost if Joe Biden continues to struggle.  More on that in a moment.

And then there is Scranton native and former Vice President Joe Biden.  Poor showing in Iowa.  Poor showing in New Hampshire.  If you remember, he showed very strong in the early polls and a certain blogger said that was simply due to the fact he had the most name and face recognition.  It was bound to change as the campaign heated up and the other candidates became better known.

So, what is Biden's problem?  He's still in the center as his party moves left.  Biden and his campaign seem to lack vitality and energy, and there are still unanswered questions over his son's business interests in Ukraine.  The New York Post called it a "spectacular collapse."  Joe Biden talks about the past a lot when voters seem more interested in their futures.

Look, this is far, far from over.  South Carolina and Nevada are on the horizon, both states where Biden can do well.  He needs a win, badly.  A Yahoo! politics story had Biden struggling with fund raising.  I can't see how it gets any better after New Hampshire.

There is one name that's been absent so far-- Michael Bloomberg.  The former New York mayor was essentially on the sidelines in Iowa and New Hampshire.  That changes.  He will become a factor simply because he's a billionaire and has the willingness to spend it.