An occasional bit of shtick I have employed this summer is the ranking of Democratic presidential candidates. It was a fun mental exercise when they got ready for the first round of debates, but there’s a method to the madness as well.
Since I last ranked these folks a couple months back, two candidates entered the race but five have dropped out, leaving the field at 21 by my count. Only ten qualified for tonight’s debate; however, I don’t think that necessarily covers the top ten in the race for a couple reasons. My tiers are a little bit different, and they’re not completely polling-based.
First, the ones who are out:
- Kirsten Gillibrand (was ranked #9)
- John Hickenlooper (was ranked #10)
- Eric Swalwell (was ranked #15)
- Jay Inslee (was ranked #16)
- Seth Moulton (was ranked #20)
I kind of figured there were four uneven tiers to the race, and perhaps the best way to do this is by tier, ranked in order within each. So my fourth tier, the “why are they still bothering?” tier, looks like this.
- Tim Ryan (was 19, now 18)
- Joe Sestak (was unranked, now 19)
- Mike Gravel (was 23, now 20)
- Wayne Messam (was 24, now 21)
Needless to say, none of them sniffed the upcoming debate. Sestak was about the last to start, and he is a little different sort of Democrat, but there are a couple others in that lane who are struggling, too.
Now the third tier, which has to really hustle to still be around for the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary.
- Beto O’Rourke (was 5, now 12) – in debate
- Steve Bullock (was 11, now 13)
- Michael Bennet (was 12, now 14)
- John Delaney (was 17, now 15)
- Bill deBlasio (was 14, now 16)
- Marianne Williamson (was 22, now 17)
Obviously, the biggest surprise out of this group is Beto, who is actually on the debate stage but has really made a mess of his campaign; so much so that I don’t think the debate will help him. The others are now out of the “top ten” debate, although a couple in my next tier arguably should be included based on factors besides polling and donations.
The second tier has all debate participants except for two, but if you had a top ten only eight of those make my cut.
- Pete Buttigieg (was 3, now 5)
- Cory Booker (was 8, now 6)
- Amy Klobuchar (remains at 7)
- Tom Steyer (unranked, now 8) – not in debate
- Tulsi Gabbard (was 21, now 9) – not in debate
- Andrew Yang (was 13, now 10)
- Julian Castro (was 18, now 11) – in debate
Castro has an inside track as the only Latino in the race, but I don’t see him really creating the buzz that Tulsi Gabbard has. Nor can I discount the vast wealth Tom Steyer possesses, which is why he ranks high. (Look, it worked for the President we have now…)
And then we have our first-tier top 4.
- Joe Biden (remains at 1)
- Elizabeth Warren (was 6, now 2)
- Bernie Sanders (was 2, now 3)
- Kamala Harris (remains at 4)
I almost put Harris into the second tier, as she has struggled to keep a coherent message. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren has vaulted into the top tier as others fade.
Quickly, let’s go through some head-to-heads:
- #1 Joe Biden annihilates #16 Bill deBlasio
- #2 Elizabeth Warren defeats #15 John Delaney, but this wouldn’t be a huge blowout
- #3 Bernie Sanders has enough to get past #14 Michael Bennet
- #4 Kamala Harris easily beats #13 Steve Bullock in an interesting paring
- In a battle of fading stars, #5 Pete Buttigieg eliminates #12 Beto O’Rourke
- #6 Cory Booker barely handles #11 Julian Castro
- I think #10 Andrew Yang pulls the upset over #7 Amy Klobuhar, who hasn’t set the world on fire with her campaign
- #9 Tulsi Gabbard uses her buzz to slip past #8 Tom Steyer
- In a grueling one, #1 Joe Biden outlasts #9 Tulsi Gabbard
- No second upset: #2 Elizabeth Warren over #10 Andrew Yang
- #3 Bernie Sanders finds someone he can beat in #6 Cory Booker
- #4 Kamala Harris wins the battle of constituent groups over #5 Pete Buttigieg
- I still think #1 Joe Biden is vulnerable, thus #4 Kamala Harris takes him out
- #2 Elizabeth Warren is much less unlikable than #3 Bernie Sanders, so she advances to an all-female final
I’m still going with the minority hope for the second coming of Barack Obama: Harris squeaks by Warren. But Elizabeth is closing fast on that one.
One last bit of fun and frivolity: this is the number of Facebook “likes” each of these candidates have, in reverse order.
- Wayne Messam – 5,256
- Mike Gravel – 19,870
- Joe Sestak – 17,409
- Tim Ryan – 45,216
- Marianne Williamson – 814,698
- Bill deBlasio – 66,066
- John Delaney – 358,540
- Michael Bennet – 103,926
- Steve Bullock – 32,210
- Beto O’Rourke – 916,363
- Julian Castro – 141,063
- Andrew Yang – 176,552
- Tulsi Gabbard – 376,996
- Tom Steyer – 487,159
- Amy Klobuchar – 258,525
- Cory Booker – 1,192,736
- Pete Buttigieg – 440,781
- Kamala Harris – 1,148,668
- Bernie Sanders – 5,103,842
- Elizabeth Warren – 3,280,688
- Joe Biden – 1,487,599
Surprising to me Joe doesn’t have the most – he’s barely third.