Underperforming Democrats Under Pressure To Get Out Of Race

The Democratic candidates for President who didn't qualify for the third debate are coming under increased pressure to get out of the race.

The Democrats who failed to make the stage for the third Presidential debate in September find themselves faced with a stark choice, stay in a race they definitely won’t win or ride it out for a few more months:

Many of the 10 candidates who didn’t make the cut for the third Democratic presidential debate, now face a big decision — drop out or keep running at the end of the pack.

Losing a spot on the stage means more than just being deprived of a powerful platform. It’s a signal to donors, supporters and primary-state voters that an already-struggling candidate has failed to break out. So what’s that candidate to do?

Three other candidates left the race in recent weeks — John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee and Seth Moulton. Hickenlooper has since launched a bid for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat and Inslee has said he will run for a third term as governor of Washington state.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez dismissed candidates’ complaints that the polling and fundraising requirements were unfair. He said the DNC helped candidates clear the bar by working with TV networks to offer “an unprecedented amount of free earned media” through hour-long town halls.

“With all due respect, the notion that we created burdens for candidates — no, we gave opportunities to candidates and we will continue to give opportunities to candidates,” he told Bloomberg. “Then it’s up to them to take advantage to those opportunities.”

(…)

Democratic strategists like Lynda Tran, a partner at 270 Strategies, expects to see more drop out.

“If they don’t end up in the debate stage, they know I think in their heart of hearts that that is not a good sign of their campaign,” Tran said. “At some point people will start paying attention primarily to the front-runners.”

And voters should question the motivation of some candidates for sticking around after they didn’t make the grade, Katz said”Why are the candidates who can’t get more than 2% staying in the race? Is it about issues or is it about ego?”

For many of these candidates, of course, it is about ego. You have to have a pretty big ego to put yourself forward as a candidate for President as it is, and admitting that you’ve wasted the last several months traveling through Iowa and New Hampshire eating bad meals and fried whatever at state fairs is not easy. Additionally, at some point running for office becomes as much an emotional issue as a practical one, and this is probably even more true for the candidate themselves and their families as it is for campaign workers and volunteers who have spent countless hours working on behalf of a candidate. The realization that all of that is coming to an end isn’t always easy to admit.

Now that the stage for the third debate has been set, we’ll likely see several more candidates drop out of the race, perhaps as early as this weekend. Other candidates, though, are likely to try to hold on for another month in the hope that they might qualify for the fourth debate in October, which has basically the same criteria as the third debate. I suppose that’s understandable. If they don’t make it into that debate, though, then these people need to seriously reconsider what they’re doing.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    I don’t understand campaign finance, but judging from the number of pols who run totally hopeless runs for president, apparently, despite all the fried whatever, it’s an OK living while it lasts.

  2. Jen says:

    @gVOR08: Funny you should mention campaign finance.

    The FEC is about to be short a commissioner, which according to this NPR piece, has some rather interesting ramifications for the 2020 cycle.

    As a NH resident, I’m certainly happy to have the candidates come visit, it is a nice boost to the state’s economy. That said, it’d be good for the field to contract quite a bit more. People here–one of the most politically active and astute places I’ve ever lived–are basically saying that they’ll start paying attention when there are fewer candidates.

  3. al Ameda says:

    And voters should question the motivation of some candidates for sticking around after they didn’t make the grade, Katz said”Why are the candidates who can’t get more than 2% staying in the race? Is it about issues or is it about ego?”

    There are many possible motivations for prospective candidacies:
    (1) ego, definitely
    (2) create name recognition for future runs for office, either locally or nationally
    (3) present yourself as a possible cabinet choice, or Vice Presidential slot, if the party wins the presidency
    (4) political idealism
    (5) political nihilism

    Most have (1) or they wouldn’t in this, but there are degrees of difference.
    Trump is all about (1) and (5),
    Many Republicans are about (5)
    Andrew Yang and Marion Williamson are about (5),
    Harris, Booker, Klobuchar are about (2) and (3)
    Hickenlooper (2)
    Inslee (3) and (4)

    A bit simplistic? Definitely.

  4. Fortunato says:

    Of course in some instances Republicans run for president because, grifters gotta grift.
    Gingrich, Huckabee, Herman Caine, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and others come to mind. (who the f*&k know what drives folks like Ben Carson)
    It reminds me of piece Rick Perlstein did several years ago (looked it up) – it was 2012, published in The Baffler, titled:
    The Long Con – Mail Order Conservatism

    Richard Viguerie – there’s a name for you fellow old timers.

    The Republican party has been a toxic sewer for a long, long time.

  5. Guarneri says:

    @Fortunato:

    If memory serves, and it does, the Clintons and Obama’s have made quite handsome, well, boatloads of money off their political tenures. Something about grifters you say?

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  6. charon says:

    @Guarneri:

    That is apples and oranges. Monetizing a political campaign is different than giving paid speeches or writing books.

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  7. Jen says:

    @Guarneri: Yes, it’s totally shocking that corporations and organizations would pay speaker’s fees to hear from former world leaders.

    I believe Bush 43 explicitly stated that it was time to “replenish the ol’ coffers” after leaving office. There’s a significant difference in the quality of the speakers between those who have served as President (or Secretary of State) and those who have not. The free market likely plays a role in what type of speaker’s fee a person commands, yes?

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  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    these people need to seriously reconsider what they’re doing.

    In a field of 20 that was true at the start, but the hubris of Boomers and Silents is eternal. And the sanity of voters that keep electing us needs to be examined, too.

  9. EddieInCA says:

    I’m just gonna grab the popcorn and wait until Bernie, and his Bernie Bros, realize that he and Warren are sharing the same space – policywise – and that the left isn’t big enough for the both of them. Bernie will never, ever, exit the race, even after he’s not the nominee. I can see Warren dropping out down the road if she doesn’t have a path, but Bernie will still be there in 2021, still running, still complaining.

    Biden, Bernie, Warren, and Harris are the contenders. Everyone else is out, but they just don’t know it yet.

    Should be fun.

    Booker, Buttegeig, Beto, Amy, Sestak, Ryan, Bullock, Castro and Delaney have future Cabinet positions as possibilities.

    Yang, Williamson, Steyer, DeBlasio, have zero national elective office future and should get out.

  10. Fortunato says:

    @Guarneri:
    It’s not merely monetizing the political campaign itself – although many among the GOP have made such practice a true art form. It’s also the GOP clownery who run for POTUS in order to bolster their run-of-the-mill swindles. You know, the 24/7 shill that is their livelihood. Huckabee and Ben Carson have both long peddled in miracle cures for cancer and diabetes. Herman ‘9-9-9’ Cain has pitched every get rich quick scheme known to man, along his ‘miracle cure’ for Erectile Dysfunction. Gingrich, a Viguerie acolyte, is the former King of Con. There’s no scam Newt hasn’t fully embraced. His chicanery is topped only by that of the current Grifter-in-Chief, Donny Two Scoops.
    Here ya go, via The New Republic, a peek at Gingrich, Huckabee & Cain: Why Is Herman Cain Trying to Cure Your Erectile Dysfunction? – When failed presidential candidates become spam kings

    Now – go find me a comparable tale regarding any Democratic presidential contender.
    Ever.

  11. Tyrell says:

    @EddieInCA: Hickenlooper is one of the best qualified and sensible.
    Yet he is out. Tulsi Habbard has a good following and generated attention, also out. This system and process does not seem to make sense. Until one thinks back and remembers the last time. Controlled, “GPS’d.”

  12. Jen says:

    Biden, Bernie, Warren, and Harris are the contenders. Everyone else is out, but they just don’t know it yet.

    I think it is a bit early to be that definitive. These four definitely are leading, particularly in national polls.

    The real questions are, IMHO, how are each of them doing in the early states, and, right in lock-step with that question, are the results from early states still important?

    I say this because Harris seems to have stalled a bit in New Hampshire. I’m curious to know how she is doing in Iowa, and I am guessing she’s probably doing well in South Carolina.

    I can almost see ending up with completely different results in each of the three early states, which would put a lot of pressure on Super Tuesday to clarify things.

  13. Jen says:

    @Tyrell: Nonsense.

    Gabbard is whining about a process that was both transparent and clear to the candidates. She didn’t make the cut for the debate, but the DNC was clear about what the thresholds were. Plus, she’s still in the race as far as I know, not being on the debate stage doesn’t preclude her from getting out there and trying to qualify for the fourth.

    She needed two additional polls to qualify. If anyone has room to fuss, it’s Steyer, who only missed by one poll. FiveThirtyEight pushed several alternate scenarios through, it’s worth reading.

  14. EddieInCA says:

    @Tyrell:

    Hickenlooper is a good fit… for the Colorado Senate seat.

    Gabbard is a good fit… for Tulsi Gabbard. She can’t even a plurality of Dems, much less a majority, to support her.

    The process and system has been transparent from the beginning. Those who didn’t make it to the debate stage…. didn’t make it because they couldn’t get enough support. They’re still in the race as long as they want to stay in. But at some point, it’s simple math.

    People+Money+Organization=votes. You need all three.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    Something about grifters you say?

    Oh yes indeed…let’s compare the Clintons and the Obamas to the likes of Gingrich, Huckabee, Cain, and Carson…just seeing that list of names illustrates how shabby the latter group is compared to the former group…

    Gabbard is whining about a process that was both transparent and clear to the candidates.

    Only Republican/conservative concern trolls are disingenuously worried about Gabbard…no one else cares about her campaign…

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  16. Teve says:

    @Jen:

    I think it is a bit early to be that definitive. These four definitely are leading, particularly in national polls.

    Indeed. Checkity-check this bit from Wikipedia:

    The 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, was announced on October 3, 1991 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

  17. Scott F. says:

    @Fortunato:
    Guarneri won’t play your comparability games. Evidence to back up shallow assertions is hard work and it’s just not worth the effort to him.

    He knows he’s perfectly content to be conned by grifters with Rs behind their names. His whataboutism is merely his way to seek solace in a belief that he is not alone in his eagerness to be duped.

  18. EddieInCA says:

    @Jen:

    The real questions are, IMHO, how are each of them doing in the early states, and, right in lock-step with that question, are the results from early states still important?

    National – Biden +11.7
    Iowa – Biden +8
    NH – Biden +1.7
    SC – Biden +23.7
    Nevada – Biden +14.7
    California – Biden +2.3
    Texas – Biden +11.7

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/2020_democratic_presidential_nomination-6730.html

  19. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    The 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, was announced on October 3, 1991 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

    The entire nomination process has moved further back over time, and relative to the standards of the time he wasn’t considered a late entrant. The first debate in that cycle was in Dec. 1991. From 1972-84, all the debates took place strictly during the year of the election, never earlier.

  20. Michael Cain says:

    Booker, Buttegeig, Beto, Amy, Sestak, Ryan, Bullock, Castro and Delaney have future Cabinet positions as possibilities.

    It appears to just be me, but I don’t get how being mayor of a small city of 103,000 in Indiana, with a population that hasn’t grown in 30 years or more, is experience that qualifies someone for any of the Cabinet positions. In Colorado where I live, 103K doesn’t make the list of 10 biggest cities. In California, it doesn’t crack the top 50.

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  21. Jen says:

    @EddieInCA: Exactly.

    Biden is ahead by 8 pts. in IA and less than 2 pts. (within the MOE) in NH. There are still 5+ months before anyone votes. That’s a lifetime in politics.

    It’s far too early to be declaring who is good and who is finished (within reason).

    Say Warren wins IA, with Biden a close second. Warren wins NH with Sanders next and Buttigieg third (this absolutely could happen). Biden takes SC.

    Where does that leave things?

  22. SenyorDave says:

    Just a reminder that Tulsi Gabbard went on TUCKER CARLSON’s show to whine about the unfairness of the rules for getting into the debates. The same Tucker Carlson who is pretty open about being a white nationalist, who says that the white supremacy movement is a hoax, who says that immigrants make the US “dirtier”. Good move, Tulsi, go on a radio show with a racist host and whine about Democrats. Should help in the Democratic primaries.

  23. Michael Cain says:

    @Jen:

    Where does that leave things?

    With everyone waiting for March 3 to see if someone cleans up in California and Texas. At least in theory, and depending on name recognition among the primary voters who haven’t been paying attention, Kamala and Beto could be the leaders come March 4 without winning a single delegate in February. I don’t remember the number off the top of my head, but aren’t almost 30% of all the delegates being picked on March 3? California will be particularly interesting since 65-70% of the votes cast there will be cast by voters who vote by mail.

  24. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: oh I know things are different now, I’m not implying that somebody new and unexpected could enter and win the nomination at this point. But historically speaking it is still early, we have five full months before the first primary votes, and that’s a long time for Joe to keep treading water with his feeble “electability” cred.

    Warren 2020!

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  25. Jen says:

    @Michael Cain: Agreed. My points were: a) it’s really too early to be saying anything definitive; and b) 5 months is a flippin’ lifetime in politics. I’m in NH, and absolutely no one is excited about Biden. They’ll vote for him if he’s the nominee, but that’s really, really not how you motivate voters.

    Regarding Buttigieg–I’m guessing by your comment you’ve never seen him speak in person. There is something about him that is difficult to quantify, it isn’t charisma, it’s just a feeling that he’s up to the task, whatever the task is. And he’s quietly optimistic. Not pie-in-the-sky, but positive. His policy stances aren’t outlandish, they are thoughtful.

    I’m clearly a fan and will be voting for him in February–assuming he’s still running. Like I said, 5+ months is a long time.

  26. EddieInCA says:

    @Jen:

    @EddieInCA: Exactly.

    Biden is ahead by 8 pts. in IA and less than 2 pts. (within the MOE) in NH. There are still 5+ months before anyone votes. That’s a lifetime in politics.

    It’s far too early to be declaring who is good and who is finished (within reason).

    Say Warren wins IA, with Biden a close second. Warren wins NH with Sanders next and Buttigieg third (this absolutely could happen). Biden takes SC.

    Where does that leave things?

    I see it differently. Iowa has a huge outlier poll by Gravis, which puts Sanders ahead of Biden. In fact, it has him winning by 6. No other poll has Bernie winning Iowa, much less by 6 points.

    That same polling outfit has Bernie up by 6 over Biden in New Hampshire. Again, an outlier. No other recent poll has Bernie winning, much less by 6 points.

    I’ll play your game, though. Let’s say that Biden wins IA, NH, and SC, NV. If that happens, he runs the table. What will Bernie do? What will Warren do?

  27. Tyrell says:

    @SenyorDave: I don’t know about Carlson. I have watched him a couple of times. I don’t watch much of the main stream “news” anymore. A lot of fussing and hollering: unprofessional, opinionated hype and sensationalism. CNN has good tech and science coverage. CNBC is good. MSNBC should be ashamed of how far away they have retreated from Brinkley. USA Today is alright. Scholastic, Popular Science, and Space Weather are good. Sift, News o Matic, and CNN Pioneers are good televised news. We need more true, professional investigative reporters like Edward Murrow and Charles Kuralt.
    “It’s all politics” Ted Turner

  28. Scott F. says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I’ll play your game, though. Let’s say that Biden wins IA, NH, and SC, NV. If that happens, he runs the table. What will Bernie do? What will Warren do?

    I’ll offer a scenario I think is just as likely as Biden running the table over the first primaries.

    Biden’s “gaffes” become the “…but her emails” storyline of the pre-primaries campaign (You may have noticed that’s already started.) and his most-electable storyline starts to take on water. Democrats who favor beating Trump over everything else (and that’s most of them) start to give a more serious look to the candidates still in the running. Biden is out of the race after losing IA (to whom doesn’t matter) and the African American vote migrates to Harris. Warren keeps eating Bernie’s lunch. After Super Tuesday, the top two contenders will be women.

  29. Jen says:

    @EddieInCA: If Biden runs the table, he’s got it locked in.

    And yes, that could happen. Absolutely. Older Democrats and those utterly terrified of the thought of a second Trump term (which includes me) could well grit their teeth and vote based on name ID and perceived “electibility.”

    He could even lose IA and NH and then win SC and run the table on Super Tuesday. (This was my question on whether early states still matter. I’m not sure they have the influence they used to because of the very valid criticisms of a lack of diversity.)

    What will Bernie do? Stay in, bluster and fuss. We’ll have the political-focused remake of Grumpy Old Men that nobody asked for. What will Warren do? Depends on how close she comes in the vote totals I think.

    Biden’s propensity to make blunders makes me nervous AF. I don’t think he represents the interests of younger voters in particular. And having debates between two doddering old men leaves me absolutely cold–I see no way in which that excites voters.

    It could well be that that is what voters want, and they’ll turn out in droves. I certainly hope he makes a wise pick for the #2 spot on the ticket.

    @Scott F.: I think your scenario is just as likely–and we have 5+ months to see what happens.

  30. Tyrell says:

    @EddieInCA: Beto in a presidential cabinet? You have to be kidding. He might qualify to be on the White House landscaping staff.
    Has Andrew Yang moved to the mountains?
    Bernie seems to think that putting a tax on meat is not a bad idea. I wonder what the farmers think about that.
    Mayor Bill of NYC has this “meatless Mondays” thing in the schools. Mayor Bloomberg had the no big soft drinks law proposal. Between those two Ronald McDonald does not have a chance.
    Where’s Alan Keyes?