Biden’s polling “support” is properly read as “undecided.” Meaning the Democratic primary race has (or had) about 30%40% “undecided” and is wide open. The real question is where that 30%-40% lands. I still think Warren is the most likely recipient.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for about 3 months, so please take my word for it that I’m not jumping on some bandwagon after the Iowa Caucuses. Also please take my word for it that I’ve seen Warren as the most likely nominee since early 2019 and BEFORE I’d come around to personally supporting her (which I now do). From my purely personal interests, I’d probably prefer Bloomberg actually (as would most anyone who experienced him as NYC mayor). To the extent this post reflects my own bias, it is that I expect a majority of other folks to walk the same path I have – starting from initial caution about Warren and ending up voting for her.
If the botched Iowa Caucuses showed us one thing, it is that very few people are passionate about Biden. I think his support melts away to other candidates. That leaves only two “unitary” front-runners on the left – Sanders & Warren. There’s a third “front runner” seat open in the center – contested by “KBB” (Klobuchar, Butteigeig and now Bloomberg).
I think Warren – the most common 2nd choice candidate by recent polling – has the best shot of consolidating a real lead out of a mix of lefty and centrist voters. She occupies the middle ground between Sanders and KBB.
Handicapping in the Democratic race has so far suffered from a drive-a-truck-through-it-obvious false assumption. That Biden’s @40% polling lead signaled actual support. But I dare you to find anyone who is (or was) actually passionate about Biden. For sure that number is a lot closer to 10% of likely voters than 40%.
That polling strength it rested on a tautology.
I’ll vote for whoever is most “electable.” The polls/primaries, etc. tell me Biden is “the most electable.” So I will answer Biden when this pollster asks. Besides, I’ve heard of him…
Circular reasoning. Broken by the first serious dent in that “electability” shine. So, unless you posited a string of un-challenged success, Biden was always going to crash and burn. Iowa and a likely loss in New Hampshire probably provide the fatal sparks.
That means 40% of likely voters will flow elsewhere as Biden loses that “electability” shine. So where will they flow? My calculus – starting from least to most likely:
- Butteigeig: He’s today’s shiny new thing, but he won’t last. A summer camp fling. Assuming you are into slightly robotic (and thus slightly creepy) 37 year old, been-running-for-President-since-birth-that’s-the-‘served-my-country’-reason-I-joined-the-military-and-why-I-obscured-my-sexuality-for-so-long guys…
- Bloomberg: I think his commercials deserve a medal for public service. I think he’s great. Anyone who lived in or around NYC thinks he’s great. But the election isn’t decided by people who live in or around NYC. I’m guessing most of the country really has no idea who he is – they’ll see a (very) old, short, nasal Jewish billionaire. A massive ad surge probably isn’t enough to get him over that hump. It MIGHT leave him with enough delegates to play king-maker at the convention. I think that is his real game. But who does he make
KingQueen? Sanders? Warren? That leaves…
- …Klobuchar. There’s a reason the NYTimes endorsed her and Warren (and not Biden). She’s the only “centrist” left standing after Biden and Butteigeig flame out. Also the likely proxy for Bloomberg. Also (most important perhaps) the last great hope for the Clintonistas to retain control of the Democratic Party.
- Bernie. I think his support is capped. He scares the bejeesus out of a lot of people. Most important, he scares the Clintonista wing of the party. They would probably prefer Trump to win than risk Bernie (or maybe Warren too) winning. Holding on to power in the minority is better than losing it altogether.
Warren: That leaves Warren as the most likely “2nd choice” home for KBB and Sanders supporters. With her running de facto against a coalition of Klobuchar and Bloomberg and the Clintonistas. I’m guessing Warren puts together a combination of
- Defecting KBB (esp Butteigeig early on) voters who prefer her to Sanders.
- Suburban women on hidden shame they didn’t turn out for Hillary and deep regret for the toxic jerk they got out of being “too busy with all this personal stuff to vote” in 2016.
- The up-for-grabs “blow it all up” voters (I voted for Obama and then I voted for Trump and now I will continue to vote for an anti-establishment candidate).
- Sanders supporters if/when his momentum gets blunted.
In a horse race between Warren and Klobuchar, I think Warren wins. With Bloomberg (and Biden and Butteigeig‘s) delegate count being the wild card. In the end, if Warren has clear voter momentum I don’t think a cynical, horse-traded “coalition” delegate count convention game will prevail. Although I could end up hoist on my own petard…
…the Clintonista wing of the party…. would probably prefer… Trump to win than risk Bernie (or maybe Warren too) winning. Holding on to power in the minority is better than losing it altogether.