Here’s why the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is now a 4-candidate race

Here’s why the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is now a 4-candidate race
Kamala Harris campaign image

Even with Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts having joined former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Eric Swalwell in dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, 21 candidates remain. But a lot more candidates will surely drop out in the months ahead. And in a report for The Hill, Niall Stanage asserts that, in essence, the primary has become a four-candidate race consisting of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

“Those four lead the polls and suck up media attention,” Stanage stresses. “They also offer Democratic voters a potential standard-bearer from the left (Warren or Sanders), the center (Biden) or somewhere in between (Harris). And, of course, either Warren or Harris could become the first female president.”

Stanage writes that although South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has performed surprisingly well in terms of fundraising, he won’t be able cross the finish line.

“The one surprise has been the strength of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), who bested everyone in fundraising during the second quarter,” Stanage observes. “He has shown little evidence he can expand his support beyond upscale whites, and concerns persist that voters would see him as just too young, at 37, to be commander in chief.”

Stanage notes that although Sen. Cory Booker and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke entered the presidential race with “high hopes,” they have “put in months of campaign-trail toil without seriously threatening to crack the top tier.”

At this point, Stanage stresses, the only serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris — and as more and more candidates drop out of the primary, the attacks on Biden from the remaining candidates will only intensify. Biden, Stanage observes, “has yet to appear on the same stage as Warren, seen by many Democrats as his strongest challenger.”

Interviewed for Stanage’s article, Democratic strategist Mark Longabaugh stressed that future debates “are going to be very critical for Biden” and that in the months ahead, “every comment” the former vice president makes “is going to be scrutinized.”

Joel Payne, another Democratic strategist, told The Hill that if Biden wins the nomination, he “would be the most flawed Democrat to win a contested primary like this in a long time.”

Stanage, unlike some pundits, doesn’t see Biden’s nomination as inevitable by any means. But Stanage believes there is a “distinct possibility” that within the primary, the “progressive vote” could be split between Sanders and Warren —which “would ease the path for Biden, the clear choice among more centrist Democrats.”

“Warren has appeared to gain momentum recently and has surpassed Sanders in several polls,” Stanage notes. “But Sanders retains a committed base of support, and his allies insist his chances are being underestimated.”

Harris has appeared in fourth place in many recent polls, but Stanage believes she could receive the nomination if Biden doesn’t perform well in future debates.

Harris, according to Stanage, “must somehow thread a path through the three leading candidates. The California senator’s best chance may come if Biden stumbles badly. Such a scenario would sharpen her appeal to both the center-left and more liberal factions of the party.”

Stanage concludes the report with an observation that most pundits would agree with: “The fight will only get fiercer from here.”


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