S.1944 - A bill to fully fund the Prevention and Public Health Fund and reaffirm the importance of prevention in the United States healthcare system.
Latest Action: Senate - 06/24/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.Tracker:
S.Res.262 - A resolution affirming the importance of title IX, applauding the increase in educational opportunities available to all people, regardless of sex or gender, and recognizing the tremendous amount of work left to be done to further increase those opportunities.
Latest Action: Senate - 06/24/2019 Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.Tracker:
S.Res.261 - A resolution recognizing the contributions of African Americans to the musical heritage of the United States and the need for greater access to music education for African-American students, and expressing support for the designation of June as African-American Music Appreciation Month.
Latest Action: Senate - 06/24/2019 Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.Tracker:
Cory Booker (Democratic Party) is a member of the U.S. Senate from New Jersey. He assumed office on October 31, 2013. His current term ends on January 3, 2021.
Booker (Democratic Party) is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate to represent New Jersey. He is on the ballot in the Democratic primary on July 7, 2020.
Booker also ran for election for President of the United States.
Booker announced that he was running for president of the United States on February 1, 2019. He suspended his presidential campaign on January 13, 2020.
Before being elected to the Senate, Booker served as the 36th mayor of Newark. He also served on the Newark City Council for the Central Ward.
In September 2017, he was rated the third most liberal senator based on his voting record, according to The New York Times.
Booker was born in 1969 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Harrington Park, New Jersey. He attended Stanford University on a varsity football scholarship, receiving a B.A. in 1991 and an M.A. in 1992. Booker was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he earned a graduate degree in history in 1994. He then attended Yale Law School, graduating with a J.D. in 1997.
After completing his education, Booker moved into a public housing project in Newark, New Jersey, became a tenant organizer, and founded a nonprofit that provided legal assistance to low-income families. He was elected to the Newark City Council in 1998 and served there until 2002, when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor. The same year, he became a partner at Booker, Rabinowitz, Trenk, Lubetkin, Tully, DiPasquale & Webster. In 2006, Booker ran again for mayor of Newark and was elected with 72% of the vote. He served as mayor until 2013.
On October 16, 2013, Booker won a special election to the U.S. Senate after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). Booker was re-elected to the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2014.
In 2016, Booker published a memoir titled United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good.
Below is an abbreviated outline of Booker's academic, professional, and political career:
Prior to President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, Booker was mentioned as a possible nominee to replace former United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on February 13, 2016.
Former Member, Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, United States Senate
Former Member, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, United States Senate
Former Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, United States Senate
Former Member, Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, United States Senate
Member, Environment and Public Works
Member, Foreign Relations
Member, Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Member, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Member, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
Member, Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration
Member, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
Member, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
Member, Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight
Member, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
— Father's Name:
— Mother's Name:
The general election will occur on November 3, 2020. General election candidates will be added here following the primary.
|Madelyn Hoffman (G)|
|Daniel Burke (Independent)|
|Veronica Fernandez (Independent)|
|Luis Vergara (Independent) (Write-in)|
Incumbent Cory Booker and Lawrence Hamm are running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate New Jersey on July 7, 2020.
|Cory Booker (D)|
|Lawrence Hamm (D)|
Eugene Anagnos, Tricia Flanagan, Rik Mehta, Natalie Rivera, and Hirsh Singh are running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate New Jersey on July 7, 2020.
|Eugene Anagnos (R)|
|Tricia Flanagan (R)|
|Rik Mehta (R)|
|Natalie Rivera (R)|
|Hirsh Singh (R)|
An election for president of the United States will be held on November 3, 2020. Booker announced that he was running for president on February 1, 2019. He suspended his presidential campaign on January 13, 2020.
In August 2013, Booker ruled out a run on the ticket of the presidential campaign in 2016. When asked whether he would rule out running himself or being the vice presidential nominee, Booker answered, “Absolutely yes, unequivocally," adding that his focus was on winning the seat and serving six years, which is a full Senate term.
Booker won re-election to the U.S. Senate in the 2014 election, representing New Jersey. He defeated Jeff Bell (R), Joe Baratelli (L), Jeff Boss (I), Antonio N. Sabas (I), Eugene Lavergne (Democratic-Republican) and Hank Schroeder (Economic Growth). Booker ran uncontested for the Democratic nomination in the primary on June 3, 2014. The general election took place on November 4, 2014.
U.S. Senate, New Jersey General Election, 2014
|Democratic||Cory Booker Incumbent||55.8%||1,043,866|
|Independent||Antonio N. Sabas||0.2%||3,544|
|Economic Growth||Hank Schroeder||0.3%||5,704|
|Source: New Jersey Division of Elections|
Booker ran for U.S. Senate in the special election for the seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg (D). Booker defeated U.S. Representatives Rush D. Holt, Jr. and Frank Pallone and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for the Democratic party nomination in the primary election on August 13, 2013. He defeated Steve Lonegan (R) and independent candidates Robert Depasquale, Eugene Martin Lavergne, Stuart David Meissner, Pablo Olivera, Antonio N. Sabas and Edward Stackhouse, Jr. in the general election on October 16, 2013. He was sworn into office on October 31, 2013.
U.S. Senate, New Jersey Special General Election, 2013
|Independent||Edward C. Stackhouse||0.4%||5,138|
|Independent||Antonio N. Sabas||0.1%||1,336|
|Source: Official results via New Jersey Division of Elections|
U.S. Senate, New Jersey Special Democratic Primary, 2013
|Source: Official Election Results from New Jersey Division of Elections|
Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
1. In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
2. Do you support expanding federal funding to support entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
Do you support requiring states to adopt federal education standards?
1. Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
2. Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geo-thermal)?
Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")?
Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
1. Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
2. Do you support lowering corporate taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
1. Do you support the construction of a wall along the Mexican border?
2. Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
1. Should the United States use military force to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a weapon of mass destruction (for example: nuclear, biological, chemical)?
- Unknown Position
2. Do you support reducing military intervention in Middle East conflicts?
1. Do you generally support removing barriers to international trade (for example: tariffs, quotas, etc.)?
Do you support increasing defense spending?
Would you commit to the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of your first term, or would you require certain conditions be met before doing so?
- We have been in Afghanistan for far too long, and I am determined to bring our troops home as quickly as possible. As soon as I become President, I will immediately begin a process to bring our troops home while ensuring that Afghanistan won’t again become a safe haven for launching attacks against the U.S.
1. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
- I voted against fast-track authority and opposed the TPP because it put large corporations before workers, and would have led to the further decline of U.S. manufacturing. I will only support a trade deal that, at its core, is focused on advancing the American worker and working families--creating jobs, lifting wages, and boosting environmental standards.
How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?
- Protecting human rights must be a central tenet of our foreign policy and that means protecting persecuted religious and ethnic minorities and preventing genocides. If I am president, whenever the United States meets with China, human rights will be a focus of the conversation.
I am deeply disturbed by the human rights abuses happening in China's Xinjiang region and support putting companies that build the detention camps there and their surveillance systems on the Commerce Department's Entity List, in addition to using the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction the people involved with the detention camps.
I am also a co-sponsor of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires a series of reports on China’s treatment of the Uighars, including from the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence, that would be used to determine whether certain individuals meet the criteria for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
As president I will also insist that China honor the commitments it has made for the autonomy of Hong Kong, and will be a voice for the people of Hong Kong and their ability to organize and express their opinions.
Would you rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? What changes to the existing agreement, if any, would you require before agreeing to rejoin the accord?
- It was a serious mistake for President Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and I never would have done it. The JCPOA brought transparency into Iran’s nuclear program and pushed back a nuclear breakout by at least 10 years. Without an agreement, Iran is now able to rapidly enrich uranium and drastically reduce the time it would take for them to produce a nuclear weapon.
While I strongly support a nuclear deal with Iran, we cannot turn back the clock and pretend the damage that President Trump has caused over the last 3 years hasn’t happened. The 2015 deal was premised on continued negotiations with the Iranians so that we could work towards a longer-term solution. We will have had four years wasted under Trump, and the sunset clauses, after which key provisions will phase out, are now that much closer. We must take stock of facts on the ground, including Iran’s recent breach of its enrichment limit, and negotiate an updated agreement to stop the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.
Would you sign an agreement with North Korea that entailed partial sanctions relief in exchange for some dismantling of its nuclear weapons program but not full denuclearization?
- Our goal has to be the full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. A nuclear North Korea is among our greatest national security threats and we must use every tool available to pursue peaceful denuclearization. I would work closely with our allies to develop and execute a thoughtful strategy to denuclearize the peninsula and address international concerns with the DPRK’s missile program and proliferation activities.
What, if any, steps would you take to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine?
- When it comes to Russian aggression, let's be clear: the Russians are not just attacking Ukraine, or the U.S.--they are trying to undermine democracy. They are attempting to create divisions and divisiveness between individual leaders as well as within nations, and that's unacceptable. The Trump Administration has looked the other way in the face of Russian aggression, whether that aggression is against Ukraine, which I visited and witnessed first-hand, or an attack on the integrity of our elections.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee I signed a letter affirming Ukraine’s sovereignty, and voted to disapprove of President Trump’s decision to end sanctions on companies connected to Russian oligarchs. I support increasing the use of the Global Magnitsky sanctions and other tools to assert pressure on Russia into cooperation with the global community. We also need to mend our relationship with our transatlantic allies and NATO, which President Trump’s has undermined. I would seek to repair any doubts about the U.S. commitment to its allies and partners in NATO.
Given the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the civil war in Yemen, what changes, if any, would you make to U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia?
- The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was a stark reminder of the human rights violations perpetuated by the highest levels of leadership in Saudi Arabia. Despite the international condemnation for the murder of Khashoggi, the most senior officials implicated remain free, and the Saudi government has doubled down on its repressive tactics. The Saudi-led coalition's indiscriminate bombing and unlawful blockading of essential goods to Yemen's civilian population has created a humanitarian disaster. Despite this record and repeated opposition from Congress, the Trump Administration continues to sell weapons to the Saudis that can be used in Yemen against innocent civilians.
We must be a nation that leads with our values. We need a reset in our relationship with Saudi Arabia, starting with an end to U.S. arms sales and transfer of nuclear technology. I have voted to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia over human rights abuses and killings of innocent civilians in Yemen. We must also continue to push for accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi through a legitimate investigation and sanctions on those responsible for his death.
Do you support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if so, how would you go about trying to achieve it?
- I support a two-state solution because I believe in justice and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestineans. As President of the United States, I will be committed to finding a two-state solution to the conflict so that both Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace with dignity and security.
What, if any, additional steps should the United States take to remove Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela?
- Nicolas Maduro lacks the legitimacy to govern, and I have publicly stated that he should step down for the good of his people. However, we cannot simply anoint a new Venezuelan government -- that would be repeating the mistakes of our dark history in the region.
I support imposing sanctions on Maduro and his top officials for corruption and human rights violations committed against their own people. We should also engage closely with our partners in the region to pursue a diplomatic, negotiated settlement, including by working with a transitional government in Venezuela that can lead to peaceful elections and a return to democratic norms and stability.
By 2050, Africa will account for 25 percent of the world’s population according to projections by the United Nations. What are the implications of this demographic change for the United States, and how should we adjust our policies to anticipate them?
- As the Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have had a chance to see first hand the U.S.-Africa relationship’s importance to our future. Africa is the epicenter of the youth bulge - its population is projected to double by 2050, and already, almost 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30. The U.S. has an interest in a stable, prosperous Africa that is able to meet its governance goals with an economic environment that attracts U.S. companies and creates the good jobs that are needed for the millions of young Africans who will enter the workforce every year. We need to allocate more resources at the State Department and USAID to focus on Africa and develop and execute strategies to reduce poverty, improve quality of life, and strengthen democratic institutions.
How would you discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants in developing countries?
- The infrastructure of the 21st century must move toward renewable and clean energy. There are a number of levers we should use to discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants around the world, including starving financing for coal-fired projects through our voting power in international financing institutions; pressuring our friends and allies to halt the exporting of coal-fired plants; increasing funding for renewable energy projects and clean development; and encouraging smart grid build-outs and better energy standards across the developing world to reduce demand for coal-fired power plants. If I am president, the United States will lead, not only by example and in a way that ensures a just transition for workers in impacted communities, but through affirmative steps to encourage action across the globe.
What has been the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of the United States since World War II? What has been the biggest mistake?
- Since World War II, the U.S. has supported the peaceful spread of democracy around the world, starting with the Marshall Plan to ease the suffering of a war-devastated continent, and through the end of the Cold War by empowering democratic governments in Eastern Europe. The U.S. is safer and the world more stable when there are more democracies and people have a voice in how they are governed.
At the same time, past leaders have also made mistakes. The consequences of the war in Iraq have been staggering--taking thousands of lives and costing trillions of dollars, all while making our country and the region less secure. And we cannot assess the full impact of the ill-fated decision without also considering the opportunity cost: the Iraq War has undoubtedly undermined our ability to effectively address many of the massive challenges of the 21st century--from climate change to technological advancement to inequality.
If you want to go fast, Cory Booker was fond of saying, go alone. If you want to go far, he would continue, go together. When it came to his 2020 presidential aspirations, he did neither. Once considered a top prospect for the Democratic nomination, the senator from New Jersey ended his campaign on Monday. He didn’t even make it to Iowa. "It is with a full heart that I share this news — I’ve made the decision to suspend my campaign for president,” Booker wrote his supporters just weeks before voters officially kick off the election season. "Nearly one year ago, I got in the race for president because I believed to my core that the answer to the common pain Americans are feeling right now, the answer to Donald Trump’s hatred and division, is to reignite our spirit of common purpose to take on our biggest challenges and build a more just and fair country for everyone," he continued. Booker still believes in that message, he said, but his team no longer has the “money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win.” Now out of the race, the former Newark mayor will return full time to the Senate where he manned the ramparts for the Resistance against President Trump and sparked national interest in a potential challenge to him. It was in the Senate Judiciary Committee that Booker compared himself to a Thracian gladiator who led a revolt against the Roman Empire. During the third day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the senator said he was breaking the rules by releasing confidential emails from the nominee’s time in the George W. Bush administration. However, the documents were already public. With a national audience watching in real-time, Booker still made a show of challenging his Republican counterparts in the committee. “This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment," Booker said as Democrats on the panel voiced their support. But the documents proved not to be consequential and Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed. In the end, critics such as Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas mocked the New Jersey lawmaker for trying to “look cute.” The historical Spartacus, depicted by actor Kirk Douglas in the 1960 film by that name, was crucified. On the campaign trail, the candidate offered a softer side. “Hope is the act of conviction that despair can never have the last word,” he told a packed ballroom the day that Kavanaugh was confirmed. A chartered jet had ferried Booker from Washington to Iowa for the state Democratic Party’s fall gala, and he assured the crowd that “we are not defined in this state by Republicans in power; we’re defined by how we respond to them.” Crowds would become increasingly difficult for the candidate to draw after he declared his White House intentions. Booker never broke into the top tier, and on the day of his exit the RealClearPolitics average shows his polling in the basement. Nationally, Booker stood at 1.8% support. In Iowa, just 3%. His campaign may be a story of a conventional candidate incapable of breaking out in an unconventional field. The senator had an inspiring biography coupled with the kind of soaring rhetoric that inspired voters and, on occasion, brought some to tears. He also had real legislative accomplishments, including the bipartisan criminal justice reform he helped shepherd through the Senate and onto President Trump’s desk. But Booker was eclipsed by the likes of Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley without any governing experience. He was also surpassed by Pete Buttigieg, the now-former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who has never won a statewide race. Both remain in the 2020 contest, and Buttigieg will appear on stage at the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses. Booker did not qualify. With his exit, the field is less diverse; former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick remains as the only black candidate. Six contenders hit polling and donor thresholds required to appear at Tuesday’s debate and compete for the favor of a party that cherishes diversity. All of them are white. While several of Booker’s colleagues will continue to split their time between Iowa and Capitol Hill, he can focus his energy entirely on the impeachment trial of the president. He is expected to return to form in tormenting Trump. He will also have to prepare for his own reelection. Though Booker recently surpassed his fourth-quarter fundraising goal, the funds were not sufficient to continue his presidential bid. His deputy campaign manager, Jenna Lowenstein, encouraged supporters to donate to his Senate campaign. “Cory Booker's right back in it, running for the U.S. Senate,” she wrote on Twitter shortly after her boss called it quits. “We f***ing need him there.”Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/
After failing to poll strongly enough to qualify for Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate, Sen. Cory Booker is now calling for the Democratic National Committee to loosen its criteria for inclusion in the January and February debates. Last week, another candidate who can’t get on the debate stage, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, hosted a town hall in Iowa to lecture voters about how their nearly all-white state has disproportionate influence in determining the nominee. If these two are trying to jump-start their sputtering campaigns, they are going about it the wrong way. They can’t complain their way to the nomination. They can’t blame the process. The onus is on them to earn more support. Booker’s gambit is slightly more worthwhile than Castro’s. Whatever your opinion about the Iowa caucuses, they aren’t going anywhere. If you can’t do well there – and by “well,” historically speaking, that means at least third place – you’re probably not going to do well anywhere else. Booker at least got all seven candidates who did qualify for the upcoming debate, as well as Castro, to sign his formal request to the DNC. His letter seeks to shame the DNC into adopting lower thresholds by implicitly drawing attention to the fact that the stage is now almost completely composed of white candidates, whereas helping Booker and Castro get back in helps diversify the proceedings. But that seemingly united front probably won't sway the DNC, because what the party wants most is an early nominee. Narrowing the debate stage nudges voters towards making a final decision by the Super Tuesday set of primaries on March 3. Reverting to sprawling debates risks dragging out the winnowing process and, in the worst-case scenario, leading to a contested convention that could fatally divide the party. Even if the DNC caves under pressure, the fundamental problem for Booker, and for Castro, wouldn’t be solved. Both have already been in most of the debates, and neither made enough of an impression on voters to rise from the bottom of the polls. How would one more debate appearance change anything? Booker and Castro don’t need another TV appearance in which they are a literal sideshow, taking up space on the edges of the stage while most viewers focus on the front-runners in the middle. In order to seize the spotlight, the two need a radical change in campaign strategy. The easiest way to do that? Join forces. Announce the formation of a Cory Booker-Julian Castro ticket. This would pair not just two people of color, but also two people with real-world governing experience at the mayoral and federal level. Two people who can bridge the divide between North and South. Two people with youthful energy who represent America’s future. By teaming up (with Booker, as the one with higher poll numbers, presumably in the top slot) they would instantly attract the major media coverage that has largely eluded them all year. Of course, after the initial novelty wore off, they would still have to deliver a message that resonates with voters. But they could at least make the case that they share important perspectives and offer unique ideas (in particular, Booker’s signature “baby bonds” plan to give every child at least $1,000 every year in a saving account they can access once they turn 18) that won’t be found on the December debate stage. The early-ticket gambit hardly guarantees the nomination. In the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Sen. Ted Cruz tried to out-maneuver Donald Trump by naming businesswoman and presidential primary dropout Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But Cruz did so in April 2016, after most states had already voted and Trump had a wide lead. It was literally a last ditch effort; after losing the Indiana primary one week after tapping Fiorina, Cruz quit. Booker and Cruz are in desperate straits as well, but the first contest in Iowa is seven weeks away. The two would have time to criss-cross the Hawkeye State, get a second chance to make a first impression, and see if they can create some synergistic magic, as Bill Clinton and Al Gore did when they first partnered 27 years ago. One tough criticism they would likely face is that by taking this step now, they would be foreclosing the possibility of having a woman on the ticket. There’s no answer they could give that would satisfy everyone. But they could at least note that a winning ticket comprised of an African American and a Latino would also make history, and then they could promise that women would be heavily represented and empowered in their Cabinet. If Booker and Castro want to get back in contention, they need to show strength. Complaining about process is what losers do when they don’t want to accept responsibility for their own weaknesses. A joint-ticket primary campaign is an opportunity to show strength and confidence, effectively demanding attention from voters and reporters by doing something essentially unprecedented, and stoking interest in what may come next. The two have an uphill battle ahead of them no matter what. They might as well face their challenges together.Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/
If we use “qualified for at least one debate” to define “serious candidate for a party’s nomination,” then the race in the Democratic presidential primary winnowed down to 16 when Rep. Tim Ryan ended his campaign last week. To put this in perspective, the oversized Republican field of 2016 reached its maximum at 16 candidates. One might question whether it is fair to consider John Delaney a major candidate simply because he qualified for a debate, but we are also considering Jim Gilmore a major candidate for Republicans in 2016 under our definition. This has led some to call for more aggressive winnowing of the Democratic field. Take this Slate article, which urges multiple candidates to drop out since they have almost no chance of becoming the nominee, including reasonably strong candidates such as Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. The Democratic Party itself seemingly agrees, having substantially raised the polling and fundraising requirements to qualify for the December debate. This discussion is getting ahead of things. Here is why: 1. We don’t know a lot about how primaries work, much less mega-primaries. Since the presidential nomination process was turned over fully to the voters in 1972, we’ve had a total of 24 presidential primary campaigns. Several of these were effectively uncontested – the 1984 Republican race, the 1996 Democratic race, the 2004 Republican race and the 2012 Democratic race -- lowering the number of cases to 20. Still more saw only weak opposition arise, such as the 1972 Republican race. Even with the remaining primaries, we don’t see much that resembles the current contest. Consider the Democratic side. In 2016, at the peak, six major candidates (and that is being generous to Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee and Lawrence Lessig) ran for president. In 2008 it was eight. The 2004 primaries saw 10 candidates run, while 2000 was a two-man race. In 1992, Democrats had a six-candidate field, 1988 saw 11, and 1984 had eight. On the Republican side, it is a similar story. How does this history translate to the current “mega-field”? We don’t know, because we only have one other such field in recent times: the Republican’ in 2016. We really can’t base much off of this. A careful analyst must also consider that the factors driving these large fields – the rise of online fundraising and super PACs, the availability of the Internet to bypass media and party gatekeepers, and so forth – also should alter our definitions of “viability.” Put differently, the old adage that there are three tickets out of Iowa and two out of New Hampshire may no longer hold true. Think of it this way: In the 1996 Iowa Republican caucuses, eighth place was Morry Taylor (you will be forgiven if you have to Google him). In 2016 it was John Kasich, who eventually finished in third place in the delegate count. 2. Undecideds and “the one percent” matter. A lot. One other side effect of the large field is that an unusually large number of votes are being held by the “undecided” category, and by “one-percenters,” my term for candidates that have only minuscule support. To see what I mean, consider the national RCP average. “Undecided” along with candidates receiving 2% of the vote or less currently account for about 20% of the total. This means that about 20% of the field is either given over to candidates who really are long shots for the nomination (but see below) or are undecided. It’s not an exaggeration to say that undecided is currently in third place. We see similar effects in the early primary states. Undecideds/minor candidates total 19% of respondents in Iowa (good for second place) and are leading Nevada with 27%. In South Carolina 18% of voters are undecided or for minor candidates (second place). Only in New Hampshire does a relatively large segment of the electorate seem to have settled on a major candidate; still, the 9% total for undecideds/minor candidates is still good enough for fourth place. The field will continue to winnow, and those voters will go somewhere. Joe Sestak’s 0.5% and Beto O’Rourke’s 1% average may seem inconsequential, but combined they could be the difference between Tulsi Gabbard finishing in eighth place and fifth. 3. There isn’t much separating top from bottom here. One of the problems that Republicans had in 2016 was that the incentives for candidates to drop out simply weren’t there, and this was a direct consequence of the size of the field. Most of the 2020 minor candidates have been involved in races where they have come from behind or had a substantial surge in the polls. Right now none of them are more than three points out of fifth place in Iowa, none is more than nine points out of fourth place in New Hampshire, none is more than five points out of fourth place in Nevada, and none is more than seven points out of fourth place in South Carolina. To be clear, I’m saying that finishing fifth, fourth, fourth and fourth would get a candidate the nomination. But because the Democratic race is sequential, scoring at this level in a few early races probably extends a candidate’s lifespan, and all of these candidates are within striking distance of such a showing. Moreover, since the eighth- and ninth-place candidates will likely be dropping out, that will free up a significant number of voters. Again, where those voters go is sort of up for grabs; it seems like they should gravitate to the major candidates, but their status as voters for minor candidates suggests that there are things about the major candidates they already dislike. 4. Big things happen late in the primary season. If you’re tuned in enough to be reading this, the 2020 presidential election probably already seems interminable. For most voters, however, it is only getting started. This means that lots of minds will be changed, and big movements for candidates can occur. At this point in 2015, Donald Trump’s main challenger in the polling was Ben Carson, who would actually eclipse Trump briefly in the national polls in early November. Ted Cruz and John Kasich, who would be the last two candidates standing, were in fourth and ninth place, respectively. In 2011, on the Republican side, we had just witnessed Rick Perry’s poll collapse, and we were in the midst of Herman Cain’s rise. Newt Gingrich was at 9% in the polls; by mid-December he would have a 13-point lead and have around a third of the Republican electorate in his camp. Rick Santorum was at 2% in the polls, and would not begin his surge until January. What about 2007? The Republican poll leaders were Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, neither of whom would win a primary. Eventual nominee John McCain was in third place with about 15% of the vote, while Mike Huckabee was at just 7%. In Iowa, which Huckabee would eventually win, the former Arkansas governor was only just starting his surge; at the beginning of the month he was in fifth place. Barack Obama trailed Hillary Clinton by over 20 points nationally at this point in 2007. In 2003, the race looked like a two-man race between Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean. Eventual nominee John Kerry was in third place, albeit with only 9% of the vote. To be sure, none of these candidates were at 2% of the vote. But none of these candidates were in 16-person fields either. It is perfectly reasonable for candidates to wait and see if they can catch fire; someone usually does at this point in the primaries. 5. Joe Biden is the X-factor. Looming above all of this is the figure of Joe Biden. Biden’s vote share has been remarkably stable, but he’s slipping into second place in the early states and is toying with third place in New Hampshire. If this turns into a panic among “establishment” Democratic donors, his candidacy could collapse rather quickly. That would be a lot of votes, in addition to “undecided” and “one/two-percenters” potentially up for grabs. Against this backdrop, it is understandable why candidates like Klobuchar stick around, at least for now. Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/
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