The State of the Race: October Edition

Primaries are known to bring the worst and best from supporters, and this one is hardly an exception. We are already seeing partisans for different candidates talking the worst of fans for other candidates, or those on the fence. Some of this is also a constant of American politics, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the last ten years: Extreme Tribalism.

There is some danger in this. Why? Whoever emerges from the process will need other people to vote for them, In some states, it really does not matter. In fact, the way the system works in the United States, in most states it really does not matter. They are blue or red no matter what. It is in those few ten to fifteen states where the presidential election will be decided where not getting followers for candidate A to throw after candidate B or C after the latter emerges where this matters.

We are also starting to see the race gel between top tier, mid-tier and bottom tier. Some people have already dropped out, and we barely miss them. More will in the next couple of months.

I will concentrate on the top tier.

Joe Biden continues to lead, for the most part. However, his lead has greatly eroded. In some polls, Elizabeth Warren has already overtaken him. Senator Sanders rounds the top three, and his polls continue to erode. He also had a major medical emergency and will be released from the hospital this weekend to travel back to Burlington, Vermont. He had two stents inserted into a cardiac artery, and while they are not saying it, likely it will be to rest, regroup and decide what’s next. He also had a heart attack.

The Warren campaign not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery, like the rest of the candidates but bought dinner for his staff. Some Sanders fans took this as a cynic maneuver, however, Warren and Sanders are not just political allies, but friends. This is rare in DC and should be understood in that context.

This quarter’s money raised has been released as well. Sanders raised 25 million, Warren 24 and Biden 15. Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounds the top four.

The race is between Biden, Warren, and Sanders at this point. It has been like this for some time. However, the cardiac emergency may change all this, given that historically something like this has killed campaigns. Whether it is fair, or not is beside the point.

Here are some examples. Thomas Eagleton was treated for depression in the 1960s, including electroshock therapy. He had a complicated medical history, as the Ray McGovern campaign was told after they chose him as their running mate. This is why Veeps are vetted carefully. That selection may have sunk that campaign in 1974. The question was about Eggleton if he succeeded McGovern and his access to the nuclear codes.

Given that Donald Trump has his finger on the button right now, we may chuckle. But medical history, or whether somebody will survive in office, play a role in the calculation of voters. Now that we have learned that Senator Sanders did suffer a heart attack, things are more serious than we were first led to believe.

Even less significant things have sunk campaigns. Who can forget the Dean Scream? This is why this medical emergency has the very real potential to upturn any chances the Sanders campaign had.

It also raises a critical question, which former president Jimmy Carter has asked as well. When are people too old to run for the presidency? Incidentally, this also applies to Biden, and perhaps less so to Warren, but not by much. Carter also called for a maximum age to run for the presidency. He is on to something, even if supporters of either Biden or Sanders do not understand why. And now that question will be even more relevant.

For Carter, it was simply the demands of the job.

“If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger,” Mr. Carter said, “I don’t believe I could undertake the duties that I experienced when I was president.”

“One thing is you have to be very flexible with your mind,” he continued. “You have to be able to go from one subject to another and concentrate on each one adequately and then put them all together in a comprehensive way.”

Following the rolling average from RealClearPoltiics, it is clear that Warren is within statistical error from Biden, who continues to go down. Sanders is now remaining outside that margin with an average of 16–18 points. This matters, since the race for the top at this point is Warren and Biden.

Biden does not consider Sanders a threat, however, he is building a wall to stop Warren during Super Tuesday.

According to Politico:

Joe Biden’s campaign is ramping up its investment in Super Tuesday states, anticipating a Democratic race that narrows to two candidates by early March.

The increase in staffing across the 14 states that will vote March 3 comes as Biden’s polling figures have declined and Elizabeth Warren’s have surged, particularly in states like Iowa and New Hampshire where she’s heavily invested in field organization.

The former vice president’s campaign is still counting on strong finishes in the four early nominating states. But in the event of weaker-than-expected performances, a built-out Super Tuesday organization would provide a fail-safe for Biden.

Warren is building an impressive organization in early states. If she overperforms in the early primary states, we may even see an early end to the primary. A lot is riding on that. There is always a chance that somebody in the second tier will over-perform in any of the early states, throwing a monkey wrench into all this. See Barack Obama in 2008 who was on nobody’s radar.

The fight in the Democratic Party is between the status quo, who Biden and Mayor Pete to a lesser extent, represent. The other is a realignment towards more progressive politics, which are represented by Warren, Sanders and to a point Julian Castro.

The fact that Trump supporters are starting to harass people like Warren means they are seeing her increasingly as a threat. Then there is impeachment. We have no idea yet, how this will affect the race. We are still at the beginning of the beginning.

Edited to reflect late-breaking information

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store