How can the Democratic National Committee recover from last week’s debate, widely criticized as a snoozer? “More debates!” seems to be their answer. Democrats have been holding a single debate each month since June (with a break in August). Now, with voters worn out, and the number of candidates cut to only a handful of the least exciting, the DNC is poised to overload voters with three debates in February. The debates will air on the 7th on ABC/Apple News from Manchester, New Hampshire, the 19th on NBC/MSNBC from Las Vegas, Nevada, and the 25th on CBS from Charleston, South Carolina.
Not much polling has come in since the last debate, but just before, Biden had fallen slightly since my last update, as had Bernie Sanders. Picking up some of that support were Warren and Bloomberg.
The Early States
More significant than the marginal poll movements in the national race, however, are the state races. Joe Biden briefly retook the lead in the RCP averages for both Iowa and New Hampshire last week. By Friday, Sanders had reclaimed the lead in New Hampshire, but the two candidates remain in a dead heat in the Granite State. Biden is also still leading in Nevada and South Carolina. With his lead in national polling unchallenged, if Biden sweeps the first four states, it will be hard for another Democrat to make the case to Super Tuesday voters that they’re the better choice.
A Biden sweep could make life especially difficult for Michael Bloomberg, who has adopted a strategy reminiscent of that employed by his New York mayoral predecessor Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Bloomberg, like Giuliani, has staked his entire campaign on Super Tuesday (Rudy also targeted Florida, which moved its primary election ahead that year). The obvious advantage for Bloomberg over Giuliani is the business mogul’s nearly unlimited money to spend.
Liz vs. Bernie
The truce between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders that had persisted through 2019 campaigning is now over. The Sanders campaign sparked a war with Warren by attacking her electability in calls to Iowa voters. That’s when Warren fired back with a story of Sanders telling her (in a private conversation) that a woman couldn’t win the election. CNN tried to turn the fight into an on-air melee during its Tuesday debate, but the candidates refused to come out swinging. Sanders told the moderators, “I didn’t say it.” And Warren deflected to a discussion about the general electability of women. Then, at the end of the debate, Warren declined to shake Sanders’ hand, telling him it was because he called her a liar on national TV.
The likely winner in any war between Liz and Bernie is Joe Biden. Earlier in the primary, when Warren and Buttigieg spent a week sniping at each other over policy and wine cave fundraisers, support dropped for both. The same is likely to happen if Warren and Sanders continue to battle. Biden is prepared to soak up their disaffected former supporters.
Trump Stealing Democrats’ Impeachment Thunder
President Trump’s net disapproval numbers are still in decent shape at 8.1 points. Not bad for a president currently in the impeachment process. And while Democrats were boring debate viewers last Tuesday, Trump was out campaigning hard.
The President isn’t just working hard at rallies in the Midwest. While the impeachment circus continues in the Capitol, he has been putting wins on the board in Washington, D.C. as well. Trump recently signed a historic trade deal with China, saw his signature USMCA trade deal pass through Congress, and signed guidance on a rule regarding prayer in public schools that will solidify his support in the evangelical community he relies on for electoral success. The Trump team also recently won court cases to free up billions of dollars in funding for the border wall initiative.
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