It ain’t over until it’s over Yogi Berra
A little while ago, I wrote that I personally was entering a “new phase” in how I looked at the upcoming primaries. As they got closer, we’d start to see more actual on-the-ground polling in the earliest states, and that’s how elections are actually decided, state by state. I said that from then on, I was going to start calculating more based on those early primary polls, as opposed to the more generic national polls.
That tree is starting to bear some fruit. There are several things in these early polls that look just about what I thought they’d look like, but also some indicators that there may be some serious roiling of the waters yet to come, especially in early states. Here’s some of the thing’s I’ve noticed.
For one thing, the race seems basically stable. Biden, Warren, and Sanders seem to be in pretty much a pick-em race, with Warren and Biden normally topping the list. Also, Mayor Pete is having an uptick in Iowa, which I said he might, since he had put a lot of ground troops in, and Indiana was close enough to Iowa for a little South Bend news to leak in by osmosis.
But one thing was a little surprising to me. While the field appears basically stable, a large percentage of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire say that they may well still change their minds before primary day. Some of this may be that there are still so many flavor-of-the-month candidates in the race that people are still taking their teaspoons, before deciding which half gallon to take home from the store with them. Also, one poll showed that even in 2019, one of Elizabeth Warren’s major hurdles is electability. Even for the Goddess Of Plans, there is still a mental mountain to climb there.
The combination of the numbers staying so tight in their bands for the front runners, along with the majority of voters saying that they are still open to changing their minds before polling day, that combination is making me think that there could be another dynamic that emerges here, and one that could benefit two particular people who aren’t getting much attention.
I’ve written previously that there are three basic lanes, there’s the “traditional” lane, which Biden has to himself, with it’s current 27% or so. There’s the “far progressive” lane, which has Sanders and Warren sharing about 42% or so of the vote. And then there’s the “moderate progressive” lane with still close to a dozen candidates in it. And I’m starting to think that that particular lane is where the action may be for a while going forward.
The voters who are occupying that lane are there for a reason. They’re there because Biden is just a wee too “old school” and stodgy for them, but Warren and Sanders are too far “out there” on the left for their comfort zone. Some of the lowest-if-the-low are slowly beginning to shuffle off to Buffalo. And from where I’m sitting, as long as there are still “moderate progressive” candidates in that lane, that is where the stragglers from the departing candidates will stay.
Look, none of the bottom tier candidates have much support, otherwise they wouldn’t be bottom tier. But as more of them open up their supporters, if those supporters are going to remain in the “moderate progressive” lane, there are going to ber fewer and fewer choices for them. Tim Ryan has already departed the scene, and who knows where his 7 supporters ended up. And so has Beto O’Roarke, who also could read the writing on the wall. What if most of those supporters gravitated to one candidate higher up the food chain?
And more are on the way. Cory Booker already showed his desperation with that fund raising ultimatum he pulled a bit ago. Andrew Yang is approaching his shelf life stale date, and Kamala Harris has already announced staff reductions to save money. Now you’re talking about people with 3-4% support behind them. What happens if they all tend to migrate to 1 place? That’s somewhere between 9-11% you’re talking about. Enough to move somebody from the bottom tier up to striking position.
Which brings me to my watch list. Mayor Pete Buttigied, and Senator Amy Klobuchar. From the start, Amy Klobuchar has been the ultimate “hay warrior,” smilingly but firmly declining all attempts to get her to trash another candidate. She is passionate, well versed, and a sitting Senator. Mayor Pete is quiet, soft spoken, with a compelling personal history, and every time he opens his mouth on stage, he tends to talk rings around everybody else up there in terms of common sense and subject knowledge. Both of them speak positively and passionately about the future, both are open to compromise, and both just give off an air of competence.
As far as Iowa goes, I give a slight edge to Klobuchar. Simply because, while Buttigieg may have proximity going for him state wise, Klobuchar shares damn near the entire northern border of Iowa up in Minnesota. Both have invested heavily in their Iowa ground games, knowing that the state may well be make-or-break for them, and are both close enough physically to spend oodles of time there.
Here’s the point. As long as there are “moderate progressives” in the race, that’s where that block of voters is likely to stay, or they would have moved on by now. But what happens if either or both of them pulls a shocker in Iowa? I don’t necessarily mean win the caucuses, just finish a surprisingly strong third place, knocking out maybe a Sanders of Biden? Gee, do you think that there are some “moderate progressives” out there that went with one of the top three early, just to back a winner, since they seemed to be running away with the show? What happens if a Buttigieg or Klobuchar pulls off a shocker in Iowa, and finished strong enough to suddenly look possible? Think some of those chickens from Biden, Sanders, or Warren may suddenly come home to roost?
Here’s two statistics to keep in mind gong forward, one old, and one new. First, among registered Democratic primary voters, almost 70% are open to changing their minds on the candidate that they support. Second, among Democratic primary voters, by far and away the overriding first issue in a candidate is kicking Trump’s pasty ass. If, say Biden starts to struggle, do you think it likely that some of his supporters might go with a candidate closer to the middle, rather than take that hard left turn? And the gate swings both ways. This could get fun real quick.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen