The most important finding in this week’s USA Today poll of Iowa Democrats is not Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s rise, Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s fall or the fact that Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are co-front-runners. It is that the number of undecided voters — a remarkable 29 percent — has risen by eight points since June. The political landscape is supposed to get clearer as time goes by and the electorate gets to know the candidates. Instead, it’s getting murkier.
The fact is that nobody is dominating this race. The Biden campaign is leaking fuel but hanging in there. Warren has been on the rise, but not everyone is sold on Medicare-for-all — or her failure to explain how she’ll pay for it. Sen. Bernie Sanders drew the biggest crowd of the year last weekend, but the rally was in Queens, which I think is pretty safe for any Democratic nominee. Buttigieg is smart, and Harris and Sen. Amy Klobuchar had good debates last week. But is any of them, or any of the other announced candidates, The One?
This kind of commitment-phobia leads inevitably to speculation that someone else may jump in at the last minute — some Big Name who could galvanize the party and give President Trump a drubbing in November.
Sources have been telling me for weeks that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving serious thought to making a run, especially if Biden falters. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio decided earlier this year to sit this one out but says he is being pressed to reconsider. Former attorney general Eric Holder has considered a presidential bid. Even former senator John Kerry — the Democratic nominee in 2004 — has reportedly mulled giving it another go.
But the two potential 11th-hour candidates who would make the biggest splash are the least likely to take the plunge. Sorry, folks, but I’m quite confident Michelle Obama means it when she says there’s no way she’ll seek the privilege, or the burden, of moving her family back into the White House. And as for Hillary Clinton, well, I think she’s just trolling Trump.
— Eugene Robinson
Don’t forget to click on the chart’s yellow highlighted text to see the rest of the Ranking Committee’s annotations.
|Position||Challenger||Change Over Last Ranking|
|5.||Kamala D. Harris||—|
|8.||Andrew Yang||UP 1|
|9.||Michael Bloomberg||RETURNS TO RANKING|
Falls off ranking: Beto O’Rourke
Also receiving votes: Tom Steyer, Nancy Pelosi
Last week’s ranking: Round 37 | The bull’s eye just landed on someone new
From the Annotations
The party is still even money, or better, to win, based on sheer anti-Trump sentiment among its base, but if they weren’t freaking out, they wouldn’t be Democrats, right?
Charles Lane, on Michael Bloomberg and all the other non-candidates
He’s back. I know everyone thinks he can’t go the distance, and I know the new CNN poll could be an outlier, but it’s clear that the anticipated collapse hasn’t happened.
Eugene Robinson, on Joe Biden
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, start prepping your stump speech. You never know when the Democrats may come a-knockin’.
Read more on 2020: