During my last list, I said it was time for some candidates to go home. Within the time of that list and this one, we’ve seen the field shrink significantly. We finally saw perennial last-place candidate Seth Moulton drop out. John Hickenlooper decided to give up his Presidential run to run for Senate in Colorado. Kirsten Gillibrand’s attack on Joe Biden landed so badly, she fulfilled my other prediction of being the first female candidate to drop out (I’ll take some time to gloat about that later), and surprisingly Jay Inslee abandoned his mission in this race despite having a somewhat strong second debate performance. So now we’re down to 19.
Still a bit too many which is why the DNC’s new rules for the debate would keep at least 9 candidates off the stage, and at least 1 of them off under very suspicious circumstances. So what happened between then and now? Well, we had two very significant events that took place in between that time. We had a 7-hour long Climate Change debate on CNN which featured many of the top candidates and there was the 3-hour long debate on ABC between 10 of our current 19 candidates.
As with all Presidential debates, it was way too long, way too scripted, way too bogged down, and took a lot to keep people’s attention, but those of us who suffered through it are here to tell you how to successfully rate the months past. But before we get to that, a moment of silence for those who’s campaigns ended so abruptly…ok, that was long enough. Here are our rankings:
#19 – Fmr. Rep. John Delaney: No one. I mean, absolutely no one has fielded more calls to drop out of this election than John Delaney. He’s done an absolutely abysmal job on telling the American people what his plans are, and only explained the ones he’s against, which all happen to have majority support, unlike the things he supports. In his last debate performance, he even went as far as to advocate for getting back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. A trade deal that would turn over American sovereignty to global corporations. Talk about not being in touch with the average American. So let me join in fielding those calls as well: Drop out John, there’s no place for you here.
#18 – Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): Listen, Amy, you did your best. You really gave it your best shot. But your brand of centrism is dead. The country needs a fighter with a bold vision, and you don’t have it. In each of Amy’s debate performances, she’s been trying to be that one-zinger gal. The person on the stage trying to get the line that goes viral. Her attempts have appeared transparent and uninspiring. The sad thing is more people may know Delaney just by the fact they think it’s time for him to go, but Amy’s gotta be just as close to him on getting those dropout calls as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think she’ll be making her exit soon enough, there may be another female candidate ahead of her looking to make her exit soon, but we’ll get to that.
#17 – Billionaire Tom Steyer: Tom Steyer may be making the fourth Democratic debate mainly because he paid his way in. Steyer was the principal architect behind the Impeach Donald Trump campaign which asked for online petitioners. That gave him access to people’s email and asked for donations to push the petition through. It turns out, he used those funds on making it seem like he had the necessary 130K supporters the DNC requires to make the debate stage. It was a clever tactic, but it’s not about how you get to the dance, but rather what you do when you get there and so far Steyer has offered nothing, but Trump’s head on a platter. A fine wish for some, but not enough to govern the country.
#16 – Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO): Bennett hasn’t had a strong push since announcing his candidacy. On debate stages, he’s come across more pleading for the good of ole’ fashioned centrism and hasn’t offered a vision or even a policy that people can sink their teeth into. Bennett has thus become the lesson of the 2019 primaries and a benchmark for the future: At least have a central policy that you’re going to fight for and talk about it nonstop. That’s how we’re gonna do this next time, and that should shrink the field down significantly from now on. Look for Bennett to be the next to make his exit quietly.
#15 – Fmr. Penn. Rep. Joe Sestak: You haven’t heard his name mentioned anywhere else but here. He hasn’t made a single debate stage and even I had to google before writing this, “Is Joe Sestak still running for President?” And strangely enough, he still is. But the million-dollar question is why? Sestak hasn’t been courting a lot of rich donors because they too can see there’s no future in his run, but he also hasn’t been able to sustain with small donors, so much of his run is being done on his own dime, and that means you’re probably not gonna hear much from Joe until you google, “Is Joe Sestak still running for President?” and it finally says, “No.”
#14 – Fla. Mayor Wayne Messam: See Joe Sestak.
#13 – New York Mayor Bill De Blasio (D- NY): De Blasio takes the biggest slide of anyone on our list because no one needed the exposure as much as he did, and he stayed noticeably quiet these last few months. He did very few interviews, didn’t attend the Climate Town Hall, and was edged out of the third debate. Bill had a tremendous showing in his first debate, and despite the media narrative that there’s a lot of hate for him in NYC, most Americans were actually curious about him. But the radio silence coming from his campaign is devastating. It’s something he needs to correct going forward.
#12 – Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): Of all the candidates who were at the Climate Change Town Hall, and who made the debate stage, that still should’ve been placed at the bottom of this list, it’s Kamala Harris. Harris got fully embarrassed by Tulsi Gabbard during the last debate when she brought up her prosecutorial record, and her defense was to smear Tulsi as an Assad apologist rather than answer for the charges Gabbard made. She saw an immediate dip in the polls, but things continued to get worse. Despite Hurricane Dorian’s imminent threat, she initially was going to skip the Climate Town Hall for a fundraiser in the Hamptons. She had to be shamed into canceling her fundraiser to give a less than satisfactory response to a question about banning plastic straws. But wait…it gets worse. She, strangely enough, did an interview for Now This where she spoke to a man suffering from ALS (The same disease that afflicted Stephen Hawking) who boldly called out her ridiculous quote on quote Medicare plan by pointing out how it would be ineffective for him and millions of others, especially with a ten-year rollout to which she had no answer other than trying to hide the fact that she was doing the bidding of health insurance companies. Then, she luckily doesn’t have to face Gabbard again at this debate thanks to the DNC trickery to disqualify all the 26 polls that had Gabbard polling above 2%, and Kamala still couldn’t eke out a solid night. In fact, among most polls, she was considered the night’s biggest loser thanks, in no small part, to her cringe-inducing “Wizard of Oz” comment. Kamala is nothing more than a manufactured candidate and it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore.
#11 – Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden: The only person happy to have had Kamala Harris on that debate stage would shockingly have to be Joe Biden. She was so bad, she made him look like a winner. Even though he really wasn’t. Biden’s candidacy should have the entire nation questioning why do people wait until their 70’s to run for president? His cognitive decline was a talking point before the debate but it was exacerbated even further with his abysmal performance in which he forgot both Sen. Warren and Sen. Sander’s names, he called Bernie Sanders the president by accident, he was called out on his immigration failings by the moderator and a crowd of protestors, responded to Bernie Sanders point about Americans paying the highest cost of prescription drugs by saying, “This is America” and got taken to task by Julian Castro. His dentures even nearly slipped out at one point! But all of that wasn’t even the worst part. When asked about his comments from the 70’s on reparations, he offered up a massive word salad that mentioned Maduro, Venezuela, record players, and poor (i.e black) people not knowing how to raise their kids. (Watch Nina Turner’s brilliant takedown of that moment here.) CNN and other mainstream media really wanted you to believe Joe Biden won that debate, the only way you come to that conclusion is if you didn’t watch it, and just caught the news afterward, and that’s really what they’re hoping for.
#10 – Fmr. Texas Rep. Beto O’ Rourke: I really thought Beto’s last days were coming soon. He even made a video looking like he was preparing to drop out, but instead, just recalibrated his approach and what was his unique gameplan? Cuss as much as possible. During the time between the last debate and this most recent one, we suffered two mass shootings within 13 hours of each other. One in Dayton, Ohio and the other in his home state of El Paso, Texas. Beto had had enough. He called the president a f***** racist, told the media he was sick of their s***, and on the debate stage said, he’s “absolutely gonna take your guns.” Some people scoffed at this strategy, whereas I’m looking at it like Beto gets it. He gets what so many of the other candidates don’t. At this point, Warren and Sanders have policy pretty locked up. Biden and Harris have centrism on lockdown. All Beto has is personality. And personality can win you the Presidency. It worked for Reagan, it worked for Trump. And Beto’s trying to see if it’ll work for him too.
#9 – Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT): Bullock is the only candidate who didn’t make the first or third debate, but gave such a good impression in the second, that he’s still somewhat relevant. He’s got a sympathy angle that he can use to his advantage. And every time he does get a public platform, he should hammer home what his ideas are. Despite his centrism, he does have some good ideas especially when it comes to money in politics. He could be a campaigning force on just that single issue and push ahead of many people in the party, but he’s also got to learn the lesson that DeBlasio is learning, if you’re not on the stage, you still got to get your voice heard somehow.
#8 – South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN): No one embodies the persona of an empty suit quite like Pete Buttigieg. He stormed into the race on a wave of momentum. Nonstop media coverage of how he was a veteran, a Rhodes scholar, he spoke several languages, and he’s gay. Did we mention that he’s gay? But policies were the main things missing from all those fluff pieces because that’s exactly what Pete is, all fluff. He’s much like Amy Klobuchar in the sense of trying to get the viral line of the night. He’s pressing for that unique soundbite that will move him back to the top of the line like when he entered the race. Unfortunately, his only viral moment in the past few weeks was when he was publicly called out on the debate stage by Julian Castro for trying to demand civility. It was Castro who reminded him, “This is a debate.”
#7 – Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): Booker is doing everything he can to play it safe at this point. He hasn’t said or done anything wrong, and even his one scandal about the New Jersey lead problem hasn’t gotten enough coverage to warrant concern from his campaign. He’s leveling out. Watching the field and picking his spot. It’s smart, but don’t watch too long or before you know it, you’re only a spectator.
#6 – Marianne Williamson: Marianne positioned herself as the candidate of love and she was laughed at a lot by television pundits who find her hippy logic outdated and ineffective. I disagree. I think Marianne is the most needed voice on the debate stage to distinguish between someone who places kindness, truth, and decency above profit and self-interest. She has consistently been the staunchest advocate for reparations for African-Americans and she brought that conversation to the national stage, I hope she gets a chance to continue to do so, but unfortunately, she is my pick for the next female candidate to drop out of the race. If she pushes that signature issue into the forefront of voters minds and it gets debated, she’s done her job and she can continue to harvest love in other ways.
#5 – Fmr. HUD Sec. Julian Castro: Julian Castro did something no one thought he could, and that was: be the story of the night coming out of the third primary debate. Many pundits are making the assumption that Castro has calculated that Joe Biden won’t be the nominee and he’s staking his claim to get in someone’s administration by taking out the front runner. That may be the case, but what Castro did was nothing short of awe-inspiring. He acknowledged Bernie’s contribution to the healthcare conversation, made distinctions between his plans and others, called out Buttigieg on fake decorum, and challenged Biden’s cognitive state. However, if you listened to the mainstream media afterward, their analysis was that Castro went too far and thus was the loser of the night. Their assessment is much like the critics of Dave Chappelle’s new special: They’re wrong, we’re right.
#4 – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Warren did great at the Climate Town Hall, in fact, she got the viral moment of the night when she called out the companies that want to make the Climate debate about “your straws and your hamburgers”, and then clearly articulated what the debate is actually about. She delivered a somewhat reserved but still solid debate performance. But it’s not Warren’s ability in front of the camera that is concerning, it’s what she’s doing behind the scenes. In recent weeks, we’ve gotten more information about Warren’s campaigning strategy and it’s all bad. Despite taking a pledge not to take any corporate PAC money during the primaries, she neglected to mention that she’d already taken their money for her Senate re-election campaign, and she still had 10 million of it leftover which she’s now using for her Presidential campaign. It also recently came out that behind the scenes she’s been talking to party insiders claiming that she’s a “team player” and that she has no intention to have a “hostile takeover of the party”, a distinction she’s tried to make perfectly clear in case the Democratic Convention goes to a second ballot and thus gives the party delegates the power to select the nominee, subverting the will of the people. But by far, the most egregious act is the secret courting of Hillary Clinton. Warren has been in close talks with the former Presidential nominee and that has progressives very worried that it looks like Warren is positioning herself as the party’s girl, so she can make moderate reforms to the system but still keep the powerful protected.
#3 – Businessman Andrew Yang: It’s no secret, I’m no big fan of Andrew Yang. I find his UBI policy troublesome in some areas that I can’t get past, and I can’t help but feel like he’s the Asian equivalent of Barack Obama – a progressive campaigner, but he’d be a corporate president. That being said, he’s good on the mic. And he does have other policy ideas that make a lot of sense. His democracy dollars plan would be beneficial in the fight against money in politics, and his gimmick on the debate stage did draw a lot of traffic to his site and bring more people into his ideas. The kid’s smart. And he walked out of the debate with the least amount of time given to speak and he still was declared the winner in many snap polls that took place after that. I think it’s just because he offers to give people money, but what do I know?
#2 – Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): Despite not being allowed on the third debate stage, Tulsi Gabbard has made something very evident: The establishment HATES her. In 2016, she dared to defy the DNC’s wishes by resigning from her post as Vice-Chair to endorse Bernie Sanders, she’s been outspoken against the wishes of the military-industrial complex, and she may have permanently wounded one of their top prospects in Kamala Harris. Tulsi placed above 2% in 26 polls, some that were more accurate than the ones the DNC used for qualifiers just to try to silence her. She has continued to look like the most resilient candidate in the race in the face of such powerful opposition and in the end, isn’t that what we’re supposed to be looking for in a President?
And lastly, you know who it is…
#1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Bernie Sanders so firmly believes in the things he’s fighting for that he blew out his voice before the debate campaigning in Colorado. None of that stopped him from crushing on the debate stage, despite having the second least amount of talking time. But also in that time, Bernie Sanders has done his due diligence releasing some of the best and most comprehensive plans to tackle climate change, criminal justice reform, and education. It’s almost as if Bernie might actually care about the well-being of the country and its people. Huh, who woulda thunk it?
So now, we inch closer to Iowa. One more debate down, another to go in October and a continuingly dwindling field. We’ll see who goes up and who comes down and who drops out in the weeks to come.
Edit: Shortly after the publication of this article, Mayor Bill De Blasio (D-NY) has officially dropped out of the race.