2020 Democrats: state of the race (April 7th, 2019)

In an excellent Vox piece, this is the kind of pull quote from Pete Buttigieg that is going to continue to drive attention to him amid a wide and varied field:

  • In recent times, appealing to Republican legislators has been wasteful because they’ve mostly been acting in bad faith.

And then there’s this:

  • Moderates look at his biography and see someone they aren’t scared of; the liberal partisans that make up much of the party’s base look at his positions and rhetoric and see someone who’s their kind of fighter.

It’s starting to get out there — at least in nerdy political circles and politics Twitter — that Buttigieg’s biography is impressive and compelling, particularly for such a young man:

  • Born in 1982, near the beginning of the millennial generation, he graduated from Harvard and won a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford. He went on to work at McKinsey, the giant consulting company, then enlist in the military — as a gay man — before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He did a seven-month tour in Afghanistan as a naval reserve officer. He reportedly speaks seven languages, and he apparently learned Norwegian for the sole purpose of reading an interesting-sounding book.

Andrew Sullivan asks, “Is Pete Buttigieg a Transformational Candidate?” and mostly likes what he sees, while hoping he’ll stake out centrist ground on immigration reform.
Even more on Buttigieg: this video clip has been making the rounds, in which he artfully deflects a snarky Bill Maher question on faith and makes an outstanding case for why values such as faith, patriotism, and freedom don’t belong to a specific political party. 
So, yes, I’m impressed by Buttigieg. Do I think he should be the next president of the United States, you ask with an appropriately arched eyebrow? I don’t know, but I’m increasingly pleased to see him making some noise and earning some requisite buzz.
And just to round things out, here’s an Ezra Klein Twitter thread on why Buttigieg is getting so much coverage. . Pull quote/tweet:

  • …I suspect that the way media has evolved is amplifying the returns on being Extremely Available. There’s so much more content being produced, and that content gets so swiftly amplified on social media, that flooding the zone pays off much bigger in 2018 than 2008.

Good discussion here about “Why Hasn’t Elizabeth Warren Caught Fire in the Primaries?” 
Pull quotes:

  • Her detailed proposals distinguish her as a candidate — she should be top-tier, by any reasonable standard — but as important as policy is, I think it can be a tough sell to voters.
  • First, she is a potential unity candidate. She is widely respected by pretty much everyone; is a likely second choice of the Bernie people; and has a remarkable amount of support (I speak anecdotally here) from “centrist” types who believe the party really does need to move left but not without some nods to traditional economic thinking. Biden’s no longer a “unity” figure, I’d say. Beto could flame out. And the “Pocahontas” thing will seem like nothing compared to the crap Republicans will soon be hitting her rivals with.

Nate Silver’s current take on how hot (or more like lukewarm-ish) the Bern is:

  • Bernie is back down to polling at ~20%. That’s not that strong for someone with 100% name recognition. IMO he’s one of the ~4 most likely people to win the nomination but he’s certainly not an odds-on favorite or really a traditional frontrunner, especially given he trails Biden.

Meanwhile, fundraising numbers matter for the “invisible primary,” driving the media narrative, campaign hiring, and it can even impact the ability for candidates to appear in the early debates (say hello, Andrew Yang). Plus, this just in from the Captain Obvious Campaign Desk: political money is incredibly important all on its own. It pays for campaign staffs, get out the vote efforts, advertising, and so on.

That said, “Who won last quarter’s fundraising race?” is a bit of a silly question, but still important for the reasons mentioned. Therefore, Sen. Kamala Harris’ fundraising haul of $12 million in Q1 2019 means that she’ll remain in the “front runner” part of the conversation, even if most of her polling numbers to date have her in a clear second tier along with the likes of Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren (with Bernie Sanders and the yet-to-announce Joe Biden the far-and-away polling leaders both nationally and in key early states). 
Bernie Sanders’ number: $18 million.
Rep. Tim Ryan from Ohio is also in as yet another 2020 Dem in case you’re interested. 
The latest Nevada caucus poll from Emerson pretty is fascinating underneath the top line number (Biden 26%, Sanders 23%). A combination of Buttigieg, Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard’s support equals 10% whereas a combination of Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand only equals 5%.

Also interesting to see O’Rourke tied for third place with Warren at 10%, with Harris closely behind at 9%. Maybe #Beto2020 will have more potential/support in Western states, but he’ll have to make it through Iowa and New Hampshire to get there. Again, that’s where the money always helps.

This post originally appeared in what had originally been called The Eric Berlin E-mail Newsletter. To get a weekly blast of pop culture, digital media, and politics that helps make sense of an increasingly frazzled world, sign on up for The Berlin Files here.

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