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Updated rankings for the 2020 Democratic candidates

Updated rankings for the 2020 Democratic candidates. The third debate was something of a nothingburger with no major gaffes committed by the big names but also no real breakout moments from the lesser lights, and with very few highlights overall. Joe Biden came out far more aggressively and despite a couple of his usual Joe-isms put in a strong performance. Elizabeth Warren was more muted and still is wishy washy on her health care proposal that will involve middle class tax rises but she can’t seem to admit this, however she managed to mostly float above the fray. Meanwhile Bernie Sanders kept playing all the 2016 hits which delights his base but doesn’t seem to be winning him much new support which should be concerning given how high profile he is and perhaps suggests something of a ceiling in that support, at least while Warren remains in the race. I reiterate what I wrote after the last debate which is that Warren shares most of Bernie’s political positions, but presents far more credible policies as ways to potentially implement them (yes, I know there was too many Ps in that sentence, but can’t be arsed re-writing it).

As for the rest, several had a good moment but that’s not the same as arresting the downward slide of their campaigns. Amy Klobuchar was good on Trump’s loser trade war and Beto O’Rouke made a bold stand against assault rifles, but while that is a strong and personal issue for him, being seen as a single issue candidate is not a stone on the path to the White House, just ask Jay Inslee. Julian Castro tried to make a crack about Biden’s age during a back and forth, but checking the transcript proves that he was wrong on the facts and the former VP was correct which makes Castro look foolish as well as mean. And speaking of foolish, despite being a veteran Pete Buttigeg’s answer of how to extract the nation from difficult foreign wars “don’t get into them in the first place” is a pat applause line that might delight certain elements of the base but is not a credible statement on foreign or national security policy. Meanwhile Andrew Yang made a splash with his offer to start road-testing his $1000 a month universal basic income policy on his supporters which will no doubt gain him more supporters and more press coverage, which thus far has been far below his standing in the polls. Yang is one of the real stories of 2020, a genuine outsider with a policy-heavy pitch, however America only seems to embrace technocrats who are either known quantities like George H.W. Bush or who have the gift of powerfully oratory on the stump, like Barack Obama. Yang has neither of those two things. But maybe the opposite of Trump really is an Asian guy who loves maths as Yang keeps saying, and American voters always tends to swing wildly when it comes to changing administrations so you never know. As Trump himself proves, stranger things have happened.

The top three, and it really does seem to be just these three now:

Joe Biden
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren

The next group were either on stage tonight or have a good chance of making the next debate (which means that without dropouts the debates might have to go back to the two night model which nobody wants, particularly Democrat primary voters). Most of these are polling in the low single digits and it’s hard to see them breaking into the top tier but if the donations keep coming in there’s no real reason to drop out now:

Corey Booker
Pete Buttigeg
Julian Castro
Tulsi Gabbard
Kamela Harris
Amy Klobuchar
Beto O'Rourke
Tom Steyer
Andrew Yang

The bottom tier, probably not going to qualify for the fourth debate, should drop out of the race and stop wasting everyone’s time and dollars:

Michael Bennett
Bill de Blasio
Steve Bullock
John Delaney
Wayne Messam
Tim Ryan
Joe Sestak
Marianne Williamson