2020 Reality Check – The state of the race after the first debates – Part 2

2020 Reality Check – The state of the Democratic race after the first debates – Part 2

Bottom Line: Despite there being 24 Democratic candidates for President, there are just nine that demonstrate relevance now that we’re two weeks removed from the debate(s). Based on most Democratic voters now being engaged and the movement in polling data since the debates, we now know the winners and losers of the first debate and key storylines as we advance deeper into the season. First the losers:

  • Biden: It might sound odd that the person leading the race would be a loser, but he is. Biden benefits from having the highest name recognition in the field going into the process. Historically, only a third of the candidates who lead in polling going into the first debate of an open primary process for president emerge winners. In other words, he has the most to lose and history isn’t on his side. Biden’s off an average of 5% after the first round of debates. He’s still the leader but he’s vulnerable
  • Sanders: For much the same reasons as Biden here’s Bernie. He had the 2nd highest name recognition going in & the second highest polling to go along with it. He emerged three points weaker and worse still for him, what he’s giving up in support can directly be spotted in Elisabeth Warren’s polling. They appeal to a similar constituency and Elisabeth Warren has less name recognition (meaning more potential upside), a more favorable profile for the Democratic Electorate and now some of Bernie’s former supporters
  • Buttigieg: With low name recognition going in to the first debate but respectable poll numbers – he represented one of the candidates with the most potential upside heading into the first debate. Instead, with more voters being familiar with him, not only did he not gain new support – he's managed to lose about a third of those who said they were with him previously. Yikes. 
  • All candidates not named Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, Yang, Gabbard or Booker. Their candidacies are all DOA. 

Now for the winners:

  • Harris: From my May 29th story – Age's role in the Democratic primary process...Who does that leave as the lead candidate to fit the preferred age for Democrats? Kamala Harris. Thank you. I’ll be here all cycle. Kamala Harris has more than doubled her support coming out of the first debate. There is no bigger winner and from where I sit, no tougher challenge for President Trump if she were to win the nomination. 
  • Warren: All but left for dead by party faithful last fall after the failed ancestry test stunt, she’s risen like the phoenix (it’s more likely the origin of that myth is linked to her heritage than native references). Refer to what I stated while discussing Bernie. 
  • Gabbard: She has the 2nd lowest name recognition of the nine candidates who’re potentially relevant had only a third of the debate time of the average of the other candidates and doubled her support. Long shot? Yes. But she’s in the game and that’s more than what most of the field can say at this point.
  • Yang: Has the lowest name recognition of the nine potentially relevant candidates. And otherwise ditto Gabbard’s story. 

Until the next debate(s)...

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