SocraticGadfly: Early 2020 Democratic presidential oddsmaking, desirability

January 11, 2019

Early 2020 Democratic presidential oddsmaking, desirability

Yeah, yeah.

On one hand, it's way too early for this, amirite?

(Updated regularly, most recently, March 4. Updates include changes in "like factor" and more.)

I am right, per John Dickerson:
Presidential hopefuls used to declare their candidacy in a single speech; now the process is drawn out with peekaboo hints, social-media announcements that lead to explorations, and talk-show teases. It’s like an Advent calendar, but no one gets a square of chocolate.
On the other hand, when a bland neoliberal Hispanic former mayor and former Obama cabinet backbencher named Julian Castro actually thinks he has a shot, no, not too early.

So, three things.

First, I'll give you oddsmaking.

Second, I'll give you his or her likely target audience.

Third, as a Green-leaner, I'll give a letter grade based on my take on the acceptability of their political stances and related issues.

Note: Odds may go over 100 percent total because they would change in reality with candidates dropping out, etc.

Note 2: I have written in-depth takes on selected candidates and will do more in the future. Where available, they're linked.

Note 3: A candidate's name in red means they've officially entered the race. A strike-through means they're officially out.

Note 4: I will also do one or more pieces rating candidates' websites. The first, rating women in the race by how pandering to women's gender stereotypes the websites are, is here.

And, since he liked mine, Gaius at Down with Tyranny also has a ratings/oddsmaking.

(June 29, 2019: Here's my take on winners and losers from the first pair of Democratic debates.)

So, let's start, with ...

Julian Castro! [Officially declared candidates, and those with official exploratory committees are in red.] Odds: 0.1 percent. Target: People with the last name of Castro. Like factor: D. (Laughingly, Nate Silver calls Castro "a major candidate."

(Note: On people with perceived higher odds, I'll give more of a breakout. At least as much as for Julian in the paragraph above.) And so, in no particular further order ...

Joe Biden: Odds 10 percent. (Don't overestimate those early Iowa polls.) Biden has the pluses of being a better establishmentarian candidate than Hillary Clinton and ties to the Obama coattails, and may be seen as more progressive than is actually true. With both her and Bloomberg out, too, he's the only "establishmentarian" heavy hitter left. Minuses are being almost as old as Bernie Sanders, being gaffe-prone, being Sen-MBNA on bankruptcy tightening 15 years ago, and lots of #MeToo baggage beginning with but not limited to the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Target: DNC establishment and DNC superdelegates if a brokered convention happens. Like factor: D-minus.

Side observation, now that JoePa is in. Who's hurt? Probably Booker and Harris, to the degree they're seen as more "establishmentarian" than Sanders and Warren. Also, the more conservative young guns trio of Robert Francis Beto! O'Rourke, Mayor Pete and Mayor Julian.

Howard Schultz is also hurt, at least as a Dem candidate. He'll have to go the indy route now if he wants in.

Kamala Harris: Odds 12 percent. Has the pluses of being a minority and a woman both, especially in the MeToo era. Has baggage of outright ConservaDem past on criminal justice issues as Cal AG and playing footsie with Mnuchin outlet on banksters and Great Recession. Has advantage of limited Senate legislation paper trail. Go here for a good roundup of everything about Kamala the Cop; take some of the non-Cop bullet points with a grain of salt. Target: Slightly more liberal Cory Booker voters. Or is it the other way around? Like factor: C-minus and falling, in part due to Donut Twitter rallying to her. Her hypocrisy on smoking pot while later busting kids for it, as well as the lie about smoking pot to Tupac 7 years before his first album came out open her to further hypocrisy charges as well as pandering ones.)

Cory Booker: Odds 7 percent. Has pluses of being a minority. Has baggage of footsie with Big Pharma, of many "poseur" stances (he's a weathervane in a field filled with them), and lack of a Senate legislation paper trail for his length of time in office. Target: Slightly more conservative Kamala Harris voters. Or is it the other way around? Is working on "what to run for" issue by getting New Jersey Legislature to consider an "LBJ bill" so he can also file for Senate re-election. Like factor: D-minus, but perhaps moved up to a straight D.

Robert Francis O'Rourke: Odds: 10 percent. (And dropping as of Feb. 15. While he has some national name recognition, he's not Bernie Sanders, so he can't play Hamlet much longer.) Pluses include recent Senate campaign, Beltway stenos and even more, Beltway neoliberal think tanks rallying to him and vague "winnability" issue. Minusus include issue-free Senate campaign being exposed along with ConservaDem House record. Target: White Obamiacs from 2008 and 2012. Like factor: D-minus. (Per Stephen Young, expect an announcement by the end of January. And, Stephen was wrong, in part because Beto actually was tracing ancestral roots and never went to Iowa. Stay tuned.)

There's a lot of people who are already drinking his Kool-Aid, which started two months ago. Many doing so without even knowing he's a ConservaDem. The Twitter memes about "tough choice between Beto and Bernie" are ridiculously clueless.

I partially blame political ladder-climber Sema Hernandez for endorsing him last August even though he never did unequivocally endorse single-payer and even though there were plenty of other reasons to still see him as a ConservaDem.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Odds: 12 percent. Pluses include MeToo actions to the degree they were genuine and some actual legislation history. Plus/minus is "bipartisanship." Minuses include seemingly unsavory nature of pushing Al Franken out the door and ConservaDem past, especially on guns. Target: Conservative wing of 2016 Sanders voters plus women in general. Like factor: D.

Bernie Sanders: Odds: 16 percent. Pluses include previous campaign history, plus him moving slightly leftward again on foreign policy. (Wake me up a year from now re Israel and BDS issues, as well as the Venezuela coup.) Minuses include the downside of previous campaign history, plus no "Hillary voted for Iraq and spoke to Goldman Sachs" easy campaign targets. Minuses from a Green POV include that he's still way too much of a military Keynesian. Additional baggage of age. See my posts about him and F-35s. Additional baggage for some Dems of being a white male. Like factor: B-minus. (I'm not grading on a curve, but you can compare his grade with other Dems.) That said, he IS a Dem. See this new piece. Or click the Bernie tag below.

Sherrod Brown: Odds: 9 percent. Pluses include being from the Midwest, perception as a kinder, gentler Bernie Sanders and related matters. Minuses include no hot single issues from his Senate time, long enough for him to have developed one, and being more Fauxgressive than Progressive. Like factor: C-minus.

Michael Bloomberg: Odds: 1 percent. (This odds is as a Democrat only; I in no way rule out him making an independent run in the general election — even if he's chided Howard Schultz for thinking of that.) Political, if not real, pluses include perceived liberalism, especially on climate and environment through things such as the soda tax, claims to appeal to centrist independents in general election. Minuses include bankster background and everything related. Target: Democratic establishment, slightly more conservative Howard Schultz voters. Like factor? Hell,. F.

Howard Schultz: (In as independent, theoretically. Schwaffling after his annoucement.) Odds 1 percent. Pluses include perceived liberalism, history of Starbucks, connections with Starbucks patrons. Minuses include downside of Starbucks history, especially with black patrons. Target: Dem establishment, slightly more liberal Michael Bloomberg voters. Like factor: D and dropping like a fricking rock. (I had colored him red, but given the amount of nuancing he was doing 48 hours after his 60 Minutes, he's back in black.)

Elizabeth Warren: Odds 8 percent. Pluses? A woman in the MeToo era, perceived as liberal to left-liberal economically. Minuses include her Cherokee Nation baggage, that she's not as liberal on as many things as believed and that she's anti-BDS. Also, per her "I'm having a beer" NYE Instagram video, a too-transparent sense of earnestness, possibly coupled with a too-transparent sense of pandering to Millennials with that as an Instagram rather than Facebook video. Additional minus is that she reportedly has hired comms staff from Hillary 2016. Politically unastute plus they were hacks. Like factor? C-minus (and dropping with the Hillary news). Thanks to Daily Wire or whoever gave that graphic to somebody connected to Trump, who then Tweeted it.

Steve Bullock: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include being a governor, and thus an executive and also thus, no Senate paper trail. Minuses start with being a moderate white male. Target: New Dems in general, and specifically, ones who want to target the heartland, and slightly more conservative John Hickenlooper candidates. Does have a potent issue on campaign finance, but in a year of "no PACs" candidates, could be drowned out. Like factor: C. Now in, and the late start means his odds are probably less than 3 percent.

John Hickenlooper: Odds: 4 percent. Pluses include being a governor of a larger, more purplish state than Montana, and thus an executive and also thus, no Senate paper trail. Minuses are more prominent than Bullock's and include his in-the-tank support for fracking, plus his 2008 DNC actions while Denver mayor for those with longer memories. Target: New Dems in general, and specifically, ones who want to target the heartland, and slightly more liberal Steve Bullock voters. Like factor: D-minus.

John Delaney: Odds: Less than Julian Castro. Pluses besides being first to file? None. Minusus? Bland older white guy from exurban Congressional district. Plus/minus: Looks like a bald, blander Will Ferrell. Target: Cabinet position in next Dem presidency and staying in longer than Julian Castro. Like factor: Not even registered. But, the fact that he's worth at least $92M is registered.

Jay Inslee: Odds: 9 percent. Pluses include being a governor and one with more liberal stances on climate issues than Bullock or Hickenlooper. Plugged in more than either of them as well. Minuses include relatively unknown level to many Democrats, being from a fairly "safe" state and not a huge record. Like factor: C.

Tim Ryan: Odds: 3 percent Less than Pete Buttigieg. Pluses include perception of willingness to take on House Dem establishment. Minuses will include his Blue Dog-ish record and trying to run from the House, as well as "Mayor Pete" beating him to the punch. Not to mention he's a New Ager lite. Like factor: D.

Tulsi Gabbard: Odds: 4 percent. Political pluses (note that caveat) include Sanders connections, especially if he does not run, a Kool-Aid stronger than Beto's, perhaps, and definite support from people like H.A. Goodman who haven't done the full Bernie-to-Trump but are definitely the conservative faction of BernieBros. General pluses are willingness to take on Dem establishment. Minuses are basically everything I've said above under political pluses plus the fact she still, Kool-Aid drinkers aside, appears to back Islamophobia, and that she's as much a political re-inventor as Trump. That's all true, and I've blogged about her Hindu nationalist fascist bromance three full years ago, and now, like Beto, about her Kool-Aid drinkers plus Kool-Aid brewer Michael Tracey. Targets: The conservative portion of the Sanders movement. Like factor: D-plus.

Jeff Merkley: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include being a general progressive for a Democrat and good on climate change in particular. Minuses include being no more than a typical progressive Dem on foreign policy. Target: Sanders voters. Like factor: C-plus.

Hillary Clinton: Odds: 2 percent. (Yes, that high.) Pluses include support of think tanks, Donut Twitter, diehard PUMAs, etc. Minuses include being Hillary Clinton and her past campaign baggage, both 2008 primaries and 2016 general. Additional baggage of age. Target: 2016 Hillary Clinton voters plus a few more voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Like factor: F-minus.

Amy Klobuchar: Odds: 1 percent. Pluses? Lemme think. Minuses would be being behind two or three other women senators and being older than two of them, as well as being seen as less progressive than all three. Target: Hillary Clinton backers who wouldn't vote for one of those other women, along with masochistic lower-level white collar employees who love sadistic bosses. Like factor: D.

Terry McAuliffe: Odds: More than Julian Castro and John Delaney, less than anybody else. Pluses: Was a governor. Minuses: Way too much personal political baggage plus way too much Clintonista baggage. Target audience: Clintonistas.

Marianne Williamson: Odds: Not a ghost of a chance or even a New Agey ghost of a chance. (I'd forgotten that there had been noises about her until she was mentioned on someone else's blog. But she even has an exploratory committee and website.) Pluses: Not a politician. She has, though, made extensive donations, mainly to progressive Dems but also to ConservaDems like Jon Ossoff and Doug Jones. "Peace" imagery. Minuses: All her baggage as a New Age nutter. Target audience: People who think "A Course in Miracles" is real. Like factor: Probably on the non-New Agey angle, a B-minus; including it, a D-minus. Her campaign contributions do NOT include the Green Party, but do include the Natural Law Party. Nuff ced.

Yes, this is longer than for most candidates, but because, like Gabbard, she flies under the radar, and some of her positions are good. My full take is now up.


(That's not to say there aren't vanity candidates on the list already.)

Mayor Ballgag or Pete the Budgie, I mean South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg aka The Maltese Cross to Bear: Odds: The same exact percentage of Julian Castro's odds as South Bend's population is of San Antonio's. Target audience: The future Dem president who gives him a Cabinet seat/Indiana Dem Senate voters. Like factor: D-minus; worked for management vulture McKinsey for three years, for doorknob's sake. Has zero real accomplishments at South Bend and embroiled city in racial issues. No, seriously. Wikipedia. Here's more reasons, with a blog post written just to "out" Beto-Lite, why you shouldn't vote for him.

Eric Swalwell: Yes, a favorite of the collusion-heavy wing of Donut Twitter is hoping he runs. And he reportedly is giving it a thought or four. He's now in, and running on gunz control, realizing post-Mueller Report that collusion goes nowhere. He's Donut Twitter and a bigger vanity candidate than Pete Ballgag with even less to be vain about.


Further vanity candidates entering after May 15, and not among early speculation, are listed below, simply by name, with no assessment, because they ain't got shit on chances:
Bill de Blasio

Among actual or potential candidates with more of a chance, how do they affect each other? Brown is possibly the main beneficiary of Sanders not running, if Brown does. Gabbard is second (for now) and Warren a distant third. Bullock and Hickenlooper obviously affect each other; both affect and are affected by Inslee to a lesser extent. Booker and Harris, with both being minority candidates, and in somewhat similar political silos, affect each other. Gillibrand interplays with Warren and Harris, and Klobuchar if she runs, and possibly also with Sanders.

Booker and Harris are both in, of course. Speculation in my corner of Twitter thinks Booker drops back out first.

If O'Rourke runs, he probably benefits most from Booker, the only other younger charismatic male in the race, dropping out. Not sure who benefits most if Robert Francis runs then drops out.

The winnowing of these candidates will start with the first official debate in June, which will have a 20-candidate cutoff, should we get that many by then.


As of right now, I don't expect Sen. Amy Klobuchar to run. I don't expect any Democratic governors or ex-governors besides those mentioned above, from a thin Dem ranks in statehouses, to enter the race. I think Tom Steyer is less likely than Schultz or Bloomberg. (Update: Steyer has officially said he'd prefer to blow billions, if necessary, on trying to impeach Trump instead of potentially blowing billions on a prez campaign. And Klobuchar, for whatever reason, has decided to jump in, despite a thin and "bipartisan" Senate record and a kind of despicable personal one.)

I think other businesscritters are less likely yet.

And, that includes Mark Zuckerberg, who has too much Facebook mess to clean up in the next 12 months to have a chance. (Notice how buzz about his possible candidacy has died off in recent months?)


It's also "amazing" (not really) how narrowly the New York Times defined "diversity" in talking about possible candidates trying to get an early start. Sanders is a secularist of some sort, but there's no real atheists. Harris, despite her part-Indian ancestry, is Christian. Tulsi Gabbard is Hindu, of course. As noted above, none are "diverse" in terms of thinking outside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. None, despite Bernie's mild democratic socialism and falsely calling himself a socialist in 2016, is there any "diversity" outside of broad tenets of modern neoliberal-influenced capitalism.

There's certainly no huge diversity in governance issues. None of the Democratic candidates has talked about amending the Constitution to abolish the electoral college, despite two presidential split decisions this century. Certainly, none has promoted ideas such as any form of instant-runoff voting or proportional representation among their state's U.S. House or state legislature delegations.

Gallup has polled recent Democratic attitudes. Support for some sort of action on climate change is growing within all divisions. More and more whites identify as liberal than moderate and conservative combined. "Liberal" is also growing among blacks and Hispanics but at slower rates.


Finally, with Dem changes on superdelegates, is there some chance of a brokered convention? Yes, but not much Put it at 5 percent; note how wide open the GOP race was in 2016 but how much it converged well before the last round of primaries.


No, more finally. What about the Republicans?

Well, Bill Weld has now formed an exploratory committee. If he jumps full in, and if that temps John Kasich to jump full in, then you'll get something.

Update, April 15: He's officially entered.

All candidates for all parties, or independent filings, can be found at the FEC website. (It just takes a one-page form, that's it, so it attracts vanity candidates like bullshit draws flies.)


hedera said...

The interesting thing here is how much we agree, which we don't always do. I too think Sherrod Brown has more chance than one might think. I also think it's way too early to be doing any of this except that it's fun to be a pundit. And much as I hate to sound sexist (which I think you know I'm not), I have a feeling that it'll take a white male to defeat 45 in 2020. Sigh.

Gadfly said...

True that I'm to your left (and to the left of about 98 percent of the country, at least among voters).

Per your one note, Warren's already been baited into playing at Trump's level. Dunno how Harris or Gillibrand would do; time will tell.

Gaius Publius said...

Read this post with interest, Gadfly. Thanks for linking to it.

Question: Where did you get the graphic showing the "Five Corners of the Democratic Party"? I see something similar at 538, but the labels are different.


Gadfly said...

Thomas, first, I need to link you back.

On the graphic? That is actually a photoshop. Saw it somewhere on Twitter and did a screen grab.