Pete Buttigieg is Out: What Does It Mean?

Buttigieg 3

Pete Buttigieg is about to suspend his candidacy.  As I wrote last night, he has no path to the nomination. So what does this mean? Some comments/predictions:

  • Most of the Buttigieg votes will go to Biden.
  • Buttigieg was the smartest and most articulate person in the race.
  • If Biden becomes the next president, Buttigieg will be in the cabinet. I doubt that he will be Biden’s VP.  I think the frontrunner here is Kamala Harris.  (Of course anything can happen over the course of the next month or two and Bernie Sanders is still leading the delegate race).
  • Let’s see if Buttigieg uses his speech tonight to endorse another candidate.
  • Expect Amy Klobuchar to drop-out on Tuesday night.  Her votes will also go to Biden.

Biden Wins South Carolina. What Does it Mean?

Biden 2

The networks are telling us that Joe Biden has won South Carolina. There is also a chance Biden will be the overall delegate front-runner in the Democratic race for the nomination after the votes are counted.

We now move to Super Tuesday when Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia will hold primaries.  Biden is now the candidate of African Americans. But I also think he will be the candidate of older white working-class voters.  This coalition, with the help of the mainstream Democrats who are scared to death of a Bernie Sanders nomination (including the super delegates at the conventions, if they are needed), will lift the former Vice-President to the nomination.

So what should we expect in these states:

Alabama:  I have not seen a recent poll for this primary.  I imagine that Biden’s success among African Americans in South Carolina will help him win Alabama.

Arkansas:  This will be a close race between Bloomberg, Biden, and Sanders. I think Biden’s success in South Carolina will help him win Arkansas.  These three candidates will split the delegates.

California: Sanders in a landslide. I will be looking to see if Biden’s finishes second over Elizabeth Warren.

Colorado: Sanders in a landslide.

Maine:  Sanders will win.  After South Carolina, it now looks like second-place will be a toss-up between Buttigieg, Warren, Bloomberg, and Biden.

Massachusetts:  Sanders should win. Warren will finish second.

Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar will do well here since she is a Minnesota Senator, but I am going with Sanders.

North Carolina: This is going to be a close race between Sanders and Biden, but I think Biden will ride his win in South Carolina to victory.  It will not be a big delegate sweep for either candidate.

Oklahoma:  I am going to predict a Biden victory over Bloomberg.  Bloomberg will pick-up some delegates here.

Tennessee: Biden in a landslide.

Texas:  I think this is going to be a toss-up between Biden and Sanders.  Bloomberg is also running strong in Texas.  The winner will not have a big delegate sweep.

Utah: Sanders in a landslide.

Vermont: Sanders in a landslide.

Virginia: Sanders is leading in the polls, but I think Biden’s win in South Carolina, coupled with endorsements from Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe, will lift Biden to victory.  Again, whoever wins will not have a huge delegate victory.

Final thoughts:

  • Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer, and Warren do not have a path to victory.  They need to drop out, but I doubt they will.  (We will see what Steyer does tonight).
  • Sanders seems to have the progressive lane all to himself, but it is worth noting that Biden is polling very well in some of these Super Tuesday states despite the fact that moderate Democratic vote is still divided between Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar. Biden can only go up after tonight’s win in South Carolina.
  • After Super Tuesday it will be a two candidate race.
  • Finally, Biden’s victory tonight will help him in primaries and general elections in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  More people will start looking at him as the overwhelming front-runner in the moderate lane.  I still believe Biden has the best chance of beating Trump in Pennsylvania.

Will Pete Buttigieg Get Any Traction in South Carolina?

Buttigieg 2

Mayor Pete won Iowa. He finished second in New Hampshire. He finished third in Nevada. But he is not doing very well in South Carolina largely because he does not appeal to African-American voters in the state.  Over at Religion & Politics, Myriam Renaud wonders why.  Here is a taste of her piece:

The majority of black Americans—almost eight in ten, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report—identify as Christian and three out of four say religion is “very important in their lives.” In one sense, Buttigieg, an Episcopalian, should appeal to these voters. Of all the Democratic candidates, he is perhaps the most fluent in the language of faith. He calls climate change a sin, telling Stephen Colbert that, because it harms today’s and tomorrow’s generations, “I don’t imagine that God is going to let us off the hook.” He also told Colbert that Christianity says “that we are obliged to serve the poor and heal the sick and clothe the naked and welcome the stranger.” During a Democratic debate question on immigration and the border, he accused Republicans of hypocrisy because they associate their party with Christianity and yet “suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents.”

Multiple factors affect how Buttigieg is seen by black voters, including religious ones; these include his tense relationship with parts of South Bend’s black community, especially after a black man was killed by a white police officer last June. The now 38-year-old candidate has also stirred controversy with comments he made in 2011 about the lack of role models who value education for low-income minority students, and by comparing his struggles as a gay man with those of African Americans. Also, his campaign’s Douglass Plan for Black America received negative publicity when an accompanying image turned out to be a stock photo of a woman from Kenya and when several African Americans described as endorsing the plan said their views were misrepresented.

The conventional campaign wisdom is also that his identity as a gay, married man is at least partly responsible for his low levels of support among black South Carolinians—a belief that has some merit but that also reinforces racist stereotypes. Most black churches embrace progressive views on a range of issues but many hold conservative attitudes toward same-sex relationships. A 2019 Pew Research Center study shows that only 44 percent of black Protestants are in favor of same-sex marriage. Sociologist Samuel Perry’s research reports that, over the past decade, the majority of twelve sociological studies exploring a possible link between religion and attitudes toward same-sex marriage identified black Protestants, along with white evangelicals, as the least supportive religious group. And yet, Pew also found that the majority (65 percent) of black Protestants support laws “protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace.”

Read the entire piece here.

When Bernie Sanders Tried to “Primary” Barack Obama

Sanders and Obama

Here is a taste of Edward-Isaac Dovere’s piece at The Atlantic, The Hidden History of Sanders’s Plot to Primary Obama“:

Bernie Sanders got so close to running a primary challenge to President Barack Obama that Senator Harry Reid had to intervene to stop him.

It took Reid two conversations over the summer of 2011 to get Sanders to scrap the idea, according to multiple people who remember the incident, which has not been previously reported.

That summer, Sanders privately discussed a potential primary challenge to Obama with several people, including Patrick Leahy, his fellow Vermont senator. Leahy, alarmed, warned Jim Messina, Obama’s presidential reelection-campaign manager. Obama’s campaign team was “absolutely panicked” by Leahy’s report, Messina told me, since “every president who has gotten a real primary has lost a general [election].”

David Plouffe, another Obama strategist, confirmed Messina’s account, as did another person familiar with what happened. (A spokesman for Leahy did not comment when asked several times about his role in the incident.)

Messina called Reid, then the Senate majority leader, who had built a strong relationship with Sanders but was also fiercely defensive of Obama. What could you be thinking? Reid asked Sanders, according to multiple people who remember the conversations. You need to stop.

Read the rest here.

Is Michael Bennett Still Running for President?

Michael Bennet during the New Hampshire Primary

You may not see his name listed when the cable news shows list the incoming results, but according to Evan Malmgren’s piece at the Baffler, Michael Bennett is still running for president.

Here is a taste:

If Bennet’s primary strategy and political positioning echoes Gary Hart’s, his New Hampshire gamble is even more of a fantastical long shot. Bennet is polling below half a percentage point in the statewide Real Clear Politics average, but he’s nonetheless invested in thirty-five paid staffers there—a significant fielding for a candidate who has raised less than $7 million over the entire election cycle—and he has spent the last two months traipsing up and down the state on a fifty-stop town hall tour called “the Real Deal Road Trip.”

I attended the fiftieth stop of this political death march, a rally in Manchester, and found what might have been an impressive showing, had Bennet been running for county treasurer. A crowd of more than two hundred packed the event space as Bennet droned on with a tempered and unfocused speech. “Among all the candidates in this race, I have the most —” Bennet stammered and paused, seemingly unsure of what, exactly, he has the most of. After some thought, he landed on a vague Obama-ism. “I have the plan that is most targeted towards, how do we allow people to stay in the middle class that are in the middle class.”

No one seemed to be paying complete attention; the people around me issued disjointed claps at seemingly random intervals. Eventually, the campaign wheeled out its “star slugger” for a brief appearance: James Carville, one-time architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign who is better known today as a minor septuagenarian tastemaker among the MSNBC-addicted crowd. That he has endorsed Bennet’s 2020 presidential campaign is all you need to know about his continued relevance. At the rally, Carville rammed Bernie Sanders as an “ideologue” and spoke to his personal desire for Democrats to win in 2020, but he said almost nothing about Bennet’s vision in particular. “They’ll run away from Bernie Sanders like the devil running away from holy water,” Carville claimed of down-ballot Democratic candidates in conservative states, a convoluted metaphor that managed to compare hypothetical future fans of Bennet’s uninspiring program to Satan himself.

The rally ended with an awkward New Orleans twist, as the speakers blared a Cajun tune and Carville donned a Mardi Gras mask before tossing beads into the crowd, abruptly leaving to catch a flight.

Read the entire piece here.

Mike Bloomberg’s Critique of the Primary System Makes Sense

Bloomberg

Why are Democratic candidates running all over Iowa when the nominee will have no chance of winning the state in November?  Former New York mayor and presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is asking this question.

Here is a taste of his recent piece at CNN:

It’s true the party has come a long way from the days of candidates being selected in smoke-filled back rooms by party bosses. But our current system—in which two early states dominate the candidates’ time and resources—is in urgent need of reform.

The Democratic Party reflects America’s incredible diversity. But the first two voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are among the most homogenous in the nation. While it’s great that candidates reach out to voters in these states at every pancake breakfast and town hall around, what about African-American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islanders, and other voters in places like Detroit, Montgomery, Phoenix, and Houston? I’ve visited them all recently, and almost to a person, voters tell me the other campaigns have almost no presence in their cities.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the two early voting states are unlikely to be consequential in the general election. So as a party, we are spending all of our time and resources outside of the battleground states we need to win.

Meanwhile, President Trump is spending his time in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina — all states we lost in 2016 by razor-thin margins. In 2020, we need to reverse at least some of those results — and we also have the chance to flip other states that voted for Trump, including Arizona and even Texas.

But right now, we are in danger of repeating 2016 in large part because, as Democrats focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump is operating at full-speed in the battleground states, with field staff and targeted television and digital advertisements. Tuesday, while Democrats are on stage in Des Moines, he’ll be speaking to thousands of supporters in Wisconsin — a state Democrats need to rebuild the Blue Wall.

Read the entire piece here.