Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Debate Eve Problems

Joe Biden’s biggest problem is…Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Warren’s biggest problem is…finding a state she can win outright among the first four contests.

Bernie Sanders’ biggest problem is….needing a second act that rhymes with his first act — but adds a compelling twist.

Kamala Harris’s biggest problem is…living up to the “tough but nice” potential the early odds makers thought she would effortlessly deliver on.

Pete Buttigieg’s biggest problem is…doing what’s right to make his current constituents happy he is running for president.

The other twenty candidates’ biggest problem is… DNC rules mandating a candidate reach a fifteen-percent threshold to win delegates in each state.


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Why Biden Is the Frontrunner

AP poll: “What Democrats want the most is experience in elected office: 73% cited that as a quality they’re looking for in a presidential candidate.”  (“Is a woman” was second at 40%.)

My take: On paper, Biden’s record, ties to Barack Obama, and strong establishment support should make him the clear favorite.  But this NY Times op-ed by Michelle Goldberg, written after she spent the weekend watching Biden in South Carolina, is a canary in the coal mine for those who think it is just a matter of time before voters look elsewhere for their experience and electability. 

Many of the elites supporting Biden have not watched him perform in a single campaign event yet.  The debate holds risks for the former VP, but it is actually a remarkable chance for Biden to make a first 2019 impression on the Gang of 500 and the broader electorate.  A strong performance in Miami, of which Biden is thoroughly capable, could put a stop for now to articles like Goldberg’s and demonstrate that Biden’s lead is based on more than name ID.

Sanders, Warren Rivalry on Slow Burn

Washington Post has an excellent look at simmering meta feud.

My take: Haley Barbour’s old political adage “In politics, good gets better and bad gets worse” is threatening Sanders’ standing right now.  Warren is a political body in motion and she will likely remain in motion until Sanders can figure out how to be an effective outside force.  It is going to be very difficult for the Vermonter to undo the conventional wisdom that he is not matching Warren’s policy chops.  In the short term, he has a chance to slow her by out-performing Warren in Miami in their separate debates, and outraising her in the second quarter in both total dollars and total contributors. 

Complicating Sanders’ challenge: Warren has surged past him without saying a single discouraging word about her colleague.  Sanders truly considers Warren a friend and an ideological soul mate, and he has a worthy principled aversion to engaging in attacks on such people.  The political physics of nomination battles suggests to some that he will need to put that inclination aside.  

Factual question it would be good to know the answer to: Has Sanders’ campaign done opposition research on Warren?  Is it more naïve to ask that question than it would be if the answer is “no”?


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Trump Works Health Care

Incumbent floats various proposals while Democrats are stronger with voters on the issue.

My take: If (and it’s a big “if”) the Democrats can nominate a presidential candidate who can explain to voters how she or he would lower their health care costs as president, the election could very well be decided by how effective Trump is in cutting the polling gap on the “who do you trust more on health care?” question.  Republicans will see a political opening as long as the Democratic hopefuls seem to be focusing more on coverage expansion than cost controls.

Tensions With Iran Escalate

Tehran says US actions end path to diplomacy.

My take: Trump’s general style of political combat (threaten, provoke, belittle, float carrots, act erratic to keep the opposition off balance, use chaos as a tool) for now has met its match with a country whose leadership’s survival depends on standing up to the United States and holding on to its nuclear ambitions.  It is easy to push North Korea off the front pages.  Iran’s strategic importance, broad-based sponsorship of terror; and threat to the world’s energy supply make this a problem the White House can’t just walk away from.

Top sports story: Giannis, 24, becomes the third-youngest player to win MVP

ESPN

Top business story: Facebook’s currency is high-risk for users, high-reward for Facebook

Wall Street Journal

Top entertainment story: WGA accuses Endeavor of inflating client numbers for IPO

The Hollywood Reporter

Big Four

Iowa

Can Elizabeth Warren seal the deal with new voters Wednesday? Backers are banking on it.

New Hampshire

First Republican challenger to Shaheen strikes bipartisan tone.

Driver with record charged with 7 homicides in biker crash.

Nevada

In interview with Sun, Sanders talks Yucca Mountain, minimum wage hike and climate change.

South Carolina

O’Rourke proposes new ‘war tax’ to fund veteran health care.


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