Democratic Candidates, Ranked

So, it's officially after Labor Day. We've had three debates so far. Traditionally now is the time where people actually start paying attention a little bit to the race, so what better time than now to take stock about where the (still lamentably large) field stands, at least from my point of view. I'm honestly not sure what to think about the overall state of the race. Maybe it's the size of the field, but it feels like the debates aren't really clarifying anything in the polls- apart from Gabbard's attack on Harris' prosecutorial records in the second debate, nobody has really broken out in a major way. Everything feels strangely stuck and I'm not quite sure why.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that a lot of the moderates (Bennet, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Bullock) are sort of waiting around assuming that Biden is going to do what Biden usually does and collapse in a heap, leading to an opening for one of them to step in. Biden has run for President multiple times so there's some history to suggest that whatever his resume, he's kind of bad at running for President- yet his collapse does not seem imminent. Everyone seems to think his support his soft- and it might be, but that's more a reflection on the rest of the field than on Biden himself. Electability is important for voters this time around and I don't think anyone else has closed the deal quite yet-- at least not the candidates that people are paying attention too- and by people, I mean the media..

The problem with the emerging conventional wisdom is that a lot of Biden alternatives haven't really punctured his coalition of voters effectively just yet. Without the expected Biden collapse, he'll probably continue to keep his support amongst African-American voters (especially older ones) and more moderate/working class type of Democrats. Sanders has been better about African-American outreach this time around, but there seems to be a ceiling to his support. Warren and Buttigieg appear to be having trouble making inroads with African-American voters as well- and if they can't, then does that represent a ceiling to their support and have they reached it?

The question around the conventional wisdom is this: if not Biden, then who? I'm thinking Warren, but I'm not quite convinced of that- which bring us around too-

The Unconventional Wisdom. 2016 proved a few things worth noting: polls aren't necessarily all that trustworthy. The media has it's own agenda when reporting these things. So, I can't shake the nagging feeling that something about this doesn't make sense to me. We know caucus states are difficult to poll. We know that Twitter and the general media zeitgeist might give an entirely false impression about where the voters actually are. So, what if it's not Biden, Warren or Sanders? I can't imagine all of these politicians staying in for ego or vanity's sake. So, let's go to the list:

1. Klobuchar: I've been Hashtag Team Amy from Day 1 and the clips I've seen from her performance in the debate have been fantastic.  Klobuchar is where the country is: tired of extremes on both sides and ready for someone to get things done today and not just dream about what might be done if they hypothetically get the votes in Congress. She's Midwestern. She's pragmatic. She's from a state that could serve as a far better example of 'blue' governance than say, California. I miss having her as my Senator, to be honest- and here's the kicker: if she's the nominee, she wins.

2. Buttigieg: I like that he's young. I like that he's all about thinking outside the box. I'm not sure I agree with all of his positions, but he's firmly in what I would consider to be 'my generation' and I think his presence alone is an important step for Millennials.

3. Warren: if the Conventional Wisdom described above is correct, there's a not insignificant chance that she's the nominee. I love her policy specifics- you can't accuse her of not telling voters exactly what she's going to do, which is refreshing, it's just that I'm not sure I agree with her. Which is kind of important.

4. Biden: I'd be okay with Uncle Joe. I think he could win. I'm just not... that enthusiastic about him is all. He should have run in 2016 because I think he would have won- granted he had legitimate reasons not to at the time. I'm just not sure he'll win this time is all.

5. Sanders: I'm not a Socialist and anything he wants to get done is dependent on veto proof majorities in the House and Senate which he isn't going to get. But there's still some of that 2016 magic left to make you wonder...

6. Williamson: Look, I get it-- the whole power of love thing is sort of eyeroll inducing, but every debate stage she's been on, she's damn near owned and, policy kookiness aside, can you imagine the spectacle if she got to debate President Trump. Call me crazy, but the ratings would be bonkers- and: she might win.

7. Harris: uneven and her prosecutorial record is a problem. But that whole 'be the President for the problems who keep you up at night thing' that, I like. That speaks to a pragmatism that I think is sorely needed-- but her shifting positions on Medicare for All haven't helped her either.

8. Booker: trying too hard to be the Diet Obama-- lots of rhetoric and soaring metaphors which obscure how intelligent and wonky this guy actually is.

9. Gabbard: 100% right on foreign policy. Hated and even a little smeared by the Internet Hive Mind after pointing out Harris' prosecutorial record wasn't as woke as people thought.

10. Yang: being the internet's favorite candidate doesn't seem like the basis for a Presidential campaign and yet, he's still here. New perspective, talks about problems people haven't even considered yet.

11. Castro: Good debate performances, doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

12. Delaney: another candidate saying interesting things and poking holes in Progressive shibboleths wherever he can-- this serves a dual purpose: it forces the Progs to sharpen their arguments- such as they are, and encourages voters to turn their lonely eyes to...  well, not John Delaney anyway.

13. Bullock: Man, Democratic Governors have had a hell of a cycle this time around. Interesting guy. Should have started earlier than he did to build name recognition and he might have gotten somewhere as an Anti-Biden.

14. Bennet: seems like he should be doing better than he is and is saying things that should be getting more traction in the race and yet...

15. Ryan: Seems interesting, but started way too late in the cycle to really build name recognition effectively. Has been mildly ineffective at best in the debates.

16. O'Rourke: He's high off his ass if he thinks running on a program of gun confiscation is going to get him anywhere near the White House. Also probably kills any future for him in Texas politics unless he finds somewhere very blue and very progressive. (This isn't to say that he's wrong about guns, mind you- it's just terrible, pandering politics that won't win him a damn thing.)

17. Steyer: Not voting for a billionaire, I don't care how woke he is. I wasn't crazy about turning the Presidency into a play toy for political 'dynasties' in 2016 and I'm not about turning it into a hot new property for venture capitalist/billionaire type to 'acquire' and 'commodify.' Save your money and register some new voters, dude.

18. de Blasio: In the debates I saw him in, he was about as appealing as nails on a chalkboard. (Update: He dropped out this morning. Thank goodness.)

19. Sestak: Who?

20: Messam: No idea if he's actually still running or not.


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