Who’s Going to Make the Next Debate (and Who Needs to Go)

No, it’s not time to update my rankings or anything.  The candidates are slogging it out in Iowa eating ice cream and shaking hands all across the state.  Other than some minor gaffes from Biden, there hasn’t been too much news.  So the ranking stays the same for now.

No, I’m going to look ahead to September and look at who’s going to stay in and who should go.  The candidates have a tougher road to get onto the stage for the next debate.  130,000 donors nationally and at least 400 donors in 20 states.  Plus, hit at least 2% in at least 4 national or early state polls.

Nine of the candidates have met these criteria: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Booker, O’Rourke, Klobuchar and Yang.  Of the names on this list, I think all of them except Yang are locks to stay in the race at least until Iowa.  Outside chance that O’Rourke gets convinced to run for Senate in Texas, but all signs point to him staying in.

The next tier for me consists of: Castro, Gabbard, Steyer, Gillibrand and Inslee.  These candidates are pretty close to making the next debate and, even if they don’t, I suspect they’ll try and hang on to the October debate, since that one has the same threshold as the one in September.  I’m a big fan of Castro, as I’ve said before.  He’s met the donor threshold and has three qualifying polls.  I think he gets on the stage and he’ll be around until Iowa.  He’s a dark horse, at best, for the top spot, but one of three or four top contenders for VP.

I’m not a huge fan of Gabbard.  She’s next closest to getting on the stage and, with her military deployment making some news, I’ll be she gets there.  She’s a top VP candidate if Biden wins, so she’s going to stick around.  The others in my second tier – Steyer, Gillibrand and Inslee – would not surprise me any way it goes.  I like Gillibrand and Inslee, so I’d like to see them stick around.  Just not sure they can make it.  Steyer should put his considerable fortune to use backing Democratic candidates, rather than trying to be a candidate.

In my third tier, I lump everyone else.  Their presidential candidacies should soon be at an end.  I like Hickenlooper, but he’s not going to make any more debate stages.  He should go run for Senate in Colorado.  I’m on the fence with Steve Bullock, but he would probably be better served running for Senate.  Even if he drops out, though, if he doesn’t run for Senate, keep him on your list of potential VP candidates if the eventual nominee is a woman.  That leaves: Williamson, Bennet, de Blasio, Delaney, Moulton, Ryan and Sestak.  It’s time to go folks.  Thank you for your service.

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