There’s really not been much going on, except that Kirsten Gillibrand just dropped out of the race. Senator Gillibrand had already dropped out of my last Top 10, so that part is not really affected. Still, my mental list has changed a little.
There are definitely some tiers developing in the race. Biden, Warren, Sanders and Harris are the top tier. I’d put Buttigieg in tier 2 by himself as the only other name I see with a shot at the top of the ticket. Tier 3, for me, are the names that I think should stay in the race to push the top candidates on some issues or to keep their viability as VP picks alive. But I don’t see any tier 3 names winning the nomination. They include: Castro, O’Rourke, Booker, Klobuchar, Bullock, and Gabbard. Then everyone else, whether they made the September debate stage or not, are just taking up oxygen. They have no chance at the top spot or the VP spot. I’m not going to list everyone here. My caveat with the bottom tier is Yang. He’s going to be around for a while and he does have an interesting signature issue (Universal Basic Income). It’s just that he has no chance at either spot and I don’t see the benefit of him pushing the top candidates. So bottom tier for him.
- Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady. I look forward to the fact that Senator Warren will be on the same stage as all of the top tier candidates. With 10 people up there, I’m not sure how much we will get actual debate, versus the lower tiers taking shots at the top tier. Still, will be interesting.
- Kamala Harris – up 3 spots. I’m moving her up this time just because I really want the Dems to nominate a woman. I’m concerned about how she’s running her campaign. If she had Warren’s campaign and policy chops, she’d already have this sewn up.
- Joe Biden – up 1 spot. I’m not sure that Joe can go through the entire campaign without more bad gaffes or looking like his age. But until that time, he’s got the best shot to beat the Republican nominee next November. And that’s important.
- Pete Buttigieg – up 2 spots. Mayor Pete is really well situated to take over the Biden lane if Biden slips up. I think he’d be an interesting foil to Trump, if Trump ends up as the GOP nominee.
- Julian Castro – Down 3 spots. I still like Castro a lot. But he just can’t seem to catch fire. That makes him a harder pick for the top spot. I’d love to see him on the Harris or Warren ticket.
- O’Rourke – down 3 spots. He could really have a break out performance at the next debate if he hammers the gun issue. If he falters next debate, he’s gonna fall in the next ranking.
- Amy Klobuchar – up 1 spot. Slow and steady. More moderate than I would like, but her Midwest credentials will be a plus if she’s on the ticket.
- Cory Booker – down 1 spot. He’s about tied with Klobuchar, but the tie goes to the woman in my rankings. Need to see something at the debate.
- Steve Bullock – staying steady. I think he may stick around to get on the stage in October. If he doesn’t make that stage, he’ll drop out. But could still be a VP contender.
- Bernie Sanders – staying steady. He’s top tier in being able to win the nomination, but, for me, as I said last time – I worry that Bernie is going all the way to the convention, no matter what else happens. Does he end up undermining the eventual nominee and help Trump?
Others: 11 – Andrew Yang; 12 – Tom Steyer; 13 – Tulsi Gabbard.