We’re still a couple of weeks away from the December 19 Democratic Debate in Los Angeles. I might have just stayed with my previous ranking, but the bombshell yesterday was that Kamala Harris has suspended her campaign. Harris was #4 on my ranking and, back in July in my first of these Top Ten posts, I had Harris at #1. I saw enough of Kamala in debates and other events to be wary of her as the ultimate nominee. I found her to be inconsistent in her performances and it felt like she had a hard time settling on a strategy and a message. I actually thought she was doing better of late and I liked her mash up of “Justice for all” and “for the people” messages that she was settling on. But, it was a little too late to save her campaign I guess. She might still be in the VP stakes, so don’t write her off completely. And we’ll be seeing her and hearing from her in the inevitable impeachment trial in the Senate in January.
The other issue with Harris dropping out is that it makes the field of Democrats more male and more white. The debate stage this month is all white candidates at this point and that’s a problem for the Dems. We’ll need African-American engagement in 2020 to win the election. I think this development ensures that if one of the six or seven top tier candidates ends up with the nomination, the VP is going to be a person of color. If I had to bet right now, I see a Biden/Abrams ticket going against the Republican ticket.
Finally, I had Harris in tier 2, so she had some support that will now go to other candidates. Who’s going to earn her support? I suspect the Harris supporters will end up being more or less evenly split between Warren, Klobuchar, Biden and Booker. But I don’t think she had enough support to make waves in the overall race. Unless. Here’s a dark horse idea. Klobuchar and Harris have the prosecutor thing in common. A couple of extra points to Klobuchar will make a big difference to her Iowa campaign and could be the thing that would help push her into a top 3 finish in Iowa. It’ll be interesting to watch.
On to the rankings…
- Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady. Is Warren in a slump? Has she hit her ceiling and is now going to come down to the middle of the pack? Are the electability concerns going to do her in? I say Elizabeth still has a good to great organization in Iowa. A little stumble now lets her surprise in Iowa and get some good comeback stories written about her going into New Hampshire. Booker for VP.
- Pete Buttigieg – staying steady. Speaking of expectations, with the Mayor Pete bump, if he finishes out of the top 2 in Iowa, he’s probably done. It’s his strongest state. If he doesn’t win or finish a close second, he’s bound for the Department of Defense. Harris or Abrams for VP.
- Cory Booker – staying steady. With the lily white debate stage coming, Democratic voters should really be hoping Cory can get a post-Harris drop out bump and get on the stage. I see Booker choosing someone from out of this field for his VP if he gets the nomination. Just don’t have an idea who yet.
- Amy Klobuchar – up 1 spot. Up side is that Harris drop out could really help her campaign. Down side is if she can’t finish top 3/4 in Iowa, she’s back in the VP stakes.
- Joe Biden – up two spots. Attrition gets him here. If he gets the nomination, the VP selection is key to base enthusiasm. Stacey Abrams is the obvious choice.
- Andrew Yang – staying steady. I like Yang, but he’s not going to be the nominee.
- Bernie Sanders – up 1 spot. Same as for Joe, his VP selection will need to create some balance. Bernie will get the enthusiasm. He needs a woman and possibly a person of color on the ticket with him.
- Julian Castro – back on list. I have liked Castro for a while. He’s still hanging around even though he’s not making the debates. He’d be better than the rest. I like his recent focus on poverty in America. Maybe he’s someone’s VP pick?
- Tom Steyer – staying steady. Better than Bloomberg.
- Michelle Obama – new to the list. Actually, I might have her at #1 if she were a legit candidate. But she’s not. And I just don’t see Bloomberg or Gabbard on the list.
Others: 11 – Michael Bloomberg, 12 – Tulsi Gabbard.