Ryan drops his bid for the presidency

Yesterday, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio officially dropped out of the presidential race. He had been running for 203 days. As we do with all major candidates who leave the race, let’s take a look back at his campaign.

Ryan came in with a message of being able to persuade former Trump voters in his home state of Ohio and more broadly throughout the Midwest. He saw that constituency as one that he could connect to, and consistently tried to push the field toward courting Trump voters in the region. He made it into the first two DNC debates, but like many others, did not make the second two.

To end his campaign and announce that he would run again in 2020 for a ninth term in his House seat, Ryan posted the following message to Twitter. Listen in:


And, as part of our tradition of looking back at key moments in candidates’ campaigns, I’m going to take you back to early August. In the clip coming up, Ryan speaks on Fox News in the aftermath of the Dayton, Ohio shooting. Remember, Ryan represents Ohio’s 13th district, which does not include Dayton, but it ain’t that big a state. Now, I first played this clip on August 5th of this year, and in it, Ryan offers his view of what the job of the president IS, and he also mentions the El Paso shooting which had just happened during the same weekend. Listen in:


With Ryan’s exit from the race, we still have 18 major Democratic candidates in the mix. Also, by my count, Ryan is the eighth major candidate to drop out. I will keep you posted if any of the rest start heading for the door.

Gabbard is all-in on the presidency and not running again for Congress

Meanwhile, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii made her own set of announcements. She is NOT running for re-election in Hawaii, which lines up with some slightly mysterious fundraising data in which her Hawaii Congressional campaign wasn’t bringing in money while her presidential campaign definitely was. Now, why isn’t she running for Congress? Well, Gabbard says she is all-in on the presidency.

Late last night, Gabbard posted a series of tweets, including a six-minute video message. She also posted a nearly 1,000-word statement on her website to go along with the video. Links to all of that in the show notes, by the way. The message there was clear: She was grateful to have served her home state, but she was ready to move on to become president.

Let’s listen to a clip from that six-minute video:


Reading from an article in Politico by Quint Forgey, QUOTE:

“Gabbard’s decision is also likely to stoke speculation that she is considering mounting a third-party presidential campaign, especially amid her high-profile clash over the past week with 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The former secretary of State has controversially suggested that Russian operatives are “grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” remarks which provoked a fierce rebuke from Gabbard and a defense of the Democratic candidate by President Donald Trump.”

So, this gives us an opening to talk about what the heck is up with this Gabbard versus Clinton stuff. To make a long story short-ish, Clinton went on the Campaign HQ podcast and said that Russia was backing Gabbard’s campaign. She also said that Jill Stein, who ran as the Green Party candidate in 2016, was, “a Russian asset.” And as part of that, Clinton implied that Gabbard was ALSO a Russian asset and would likely run as a third-party candidate after not making it in the Democratic primary. Now, you know, that’s a series of gigantic accusations and Gabbard responded.

I’m going to read a bit here from a piece by Daniel Strauss also in Politico that sums up what happened next.

“Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill confirmed that the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard when she was describing a Democratic candidate preferred by Russia. Gabbard, who has previously said she would not run as a third-party candidate, fired back on Twitter.

"Thank you @HillaryClinton," Gabbard tweeted. "You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. [It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.]" […]
Gabbard is frequently mentioned in Russian propaganda and media, including by RT, the news agency backed by the Kremlin, and she has been criticized for foreign policy views that some say are aligned too closely with Russia and other foreign adversaries of the United States — especially her views on Syria and Syrian President Bashar Assad.”

So, that is part of the backdrop for Gabbard’s announcement today, though clearly not the only driver because she has been steering away from the Hawaii Congressional race for at least a few months now.

We will have to see what this does for Gabbard in the polls—she still needs three more results to qualify for the November DNC debate, and I’m about to tell you about another thing she will need to work toward.

The DNC announces its December debate requirements

Next up, the DNC has announced a few details about the December debate. First, it will be held on December 19th at the University of California in Los Angeles. And second, we have the qualification requirements. Candidates need to get 4% in at least four DNC-sanctioned polls, OR 6% in just two early-voting-state polls. Each of these numbers is up by 1% from the November qualification threshold.

In addition to the polling, candidates also need 200,000 donors, with at least 800 unique people in each of 20 states. And they have until December 12th to do all of this.

So the first question is, all right, who ALREADY meets these criteria? Well, for sure that includes Biden, Sanders, and Warren. According to a spreadsheet that tracks all this stuff, it looks like Buttigieg is almost there, and Harris is too, but they haven’t QUITE qualified because of the timing of when the polls can be included to count for this particular debate. All of those candidates already meet the donor threshold, the question there is simply a matter of polling, which should be no problem for them. So that gives you a group of five who are almost certainly locked in.

There are two more candidates who meet the donor requirements but need help in the polling department. Those are O’Rourke and Yang.

And then you have Steyer, who has one qualifying poll already, but doesn’t have the donors yet—though he probably will very soon, since he’s been very successful at getting small-dollar donors through online ads.

Plus there’s Klobuchar, who is kind of in the best place of the folks who don’t make the cut at the moment. Right now she has a bunch of 3% polls that don’t count, and lacks the donors as well. But if she goes up by one point in her polling, plus grabs some donors, she’s in. Given that she has qualified for November, that’s certainly possible.

And let’s not forget Booker, Castro, and Gabbard, all of whom have problems in the polling department and MAYBE the donor department, though in many cases the donor estimates we have are old, so they are probably under-counts.

So what does this all mean? Well, looking at it today, my read is that it will be very tough for some of the candidates we’ve consistently seen in previous debates to make it onto this December stage. I just walked through seven people who were in the October debate, but who face real challenges qualifying for December. And that’s leaving the issue of November out of it—we’ve got nine people qualified for that debate right now. Getting the donors has proved pretty easy for candidates so far, so the polling here is really the challenge. As always, I will keep you posted.

We can now officially speculate about a January debate

Here’s a quick one. Now that we have a date for the December debate, we can officially start speculating about the debate AFTER that. The DNC long ago announced a plan to hold six debates in 2019 and another six in the months leading up to April 2020. December is the sixth debate, so that rounds out their 2019 schedule. The big question is basically, do we have a January debate, and if so, when? And where? And how hard is it to qualify for that? So place your bets now. I’m gonna wildly guess maybe Iowa? Maybe mid-January? Maybe all the polling thresholds go up another percentage point? Seems as good a guess as any.

We are approaching just 100 days until Iowa votes

Here’s another quick item. Over the weekend, we will hit an important calendrical milestone: 100 days until the Democratic presidential caucuses in Iowa. For those of you who’ve been listening since April, yes, it’s getting very real now. The caucuses are on Monday, February 3rd, 2020. That means that tomorrow—Saturday—is the 100-day mark until Iowa votes.

With about three months to go, candidates will be focusing heavily on the 99 counties in Iowa. There’s a link in the show notes to an extensive Washington Post piece that walks through the challenge of winning in Iowa.

Polls say Democratic primary voters are very happy with their options

In what is technically an op-ed for The Washington Post, Aaron Blake examines historical polling about the Democratic primary field now versus primaries in the past. And specifically, he’s looking for whether Democratic primary voters like the choices they’re presented with.

Long story short, YES. I’m going to read a modified quote where I remove some numbers, so you can actually follow what the quote MEANS. This is from the Post piece.

“Not only do polls suggest basically that all of these candidates would be favored to beat Trump, but they also suggest that Democratic voters are very happy with their choices.
A Gallup poll last month showed 75 percent of Democrats said they were “satisfied” with their party’s candidates. That’s significantly higher than at similar junctures in 1992 […], 2003 […] and 2016 […], and it’s about on-par with 2007 […], when [Hillary] Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards were running.”

Check out the article for more analysis on how high-profile Democrats are flipping out just a bit about whether we need a last-minute primary run from some new high-profile Democrat, versus the actual voters and how satisfied they are with the field they’ve got right now.

One Republican primary challenger says he would happily vote for Biden

And last up today, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who is running in the Republican primary, gave an interesting answer when asked who he might vote for in the upcoming general election. At the CITIZEN Conference sponsored by CNN, he was asked whether he might vote for a Democrat in 2020. His response?

“Could I vote for a Democrat? Hell yes. If it’s Trump against Joe Biden, I’m with Biden in a heartbeat.”

He went on to say, of Biden:

“He’s a lunch-pail Democrat. He’s a good guy. He’s a centrist, and Trump is not going to be able to play the socialism card against him.”

Well, there you have it. We’ve got one Republican on the record saying he’ll vote for a Democrat. Just a few million more and this thing is in the bag.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Tomorrow I am commencing Operation Doug Fir Limb Removal. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it. At the same time I’ll take a look at that pesky stump, which has been growing a few new suckers and trying to hold on. I’ll post some Instagram followup photos so all you stump fans and stump foes can root for me or it. In any case, big yarden weekend as winter is coming, and thanks to everybody for the thumbs-up on reading books by Robert Caro. I’ve got my work, both physical, and intellectual, cut out for me. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all on MONDAY.