Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Yes, Pete Buttigieg is Doing Better Than I Expected

In the RealClearPolitics polling averages, he's on top of the pile in Iowa and in second place in New Hampshire, behind Bernie Sanders but ahead of Joe Biden (and Elizabeth Warren, whose prospects seem to be fading slowly away, as I had not predicted).

The main thing I've been right on so far in this primary cycle has been predicting (from at least as early as her busing-based attack on Joe Biden) that Kamala Harris wouldn't be the nominee. She finally dropped out recently.

I've pretty much consistently predicted that it will be Biden, Warren, or Biden/Warren, and that's looking pretty dicey at the moment.

A commenter on this blog -- I think it was Thane Eichenauer, but I don't remember what post it was on and haven't found the comment -- suggested some time back that Buttigieg may well be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. I disagreed.

I still disagree.

He's in kind of a weird pocket. He has just enough of a political record to be both minimized and savaged, but not enough of one to run on.

In 2016, the US elected a president with precisely zero political experience.

Usually, the US elects a president with quite a bit of political experience, the main exception being successful generals like Grant and Eisenhower.

The last time I can think of offhand (I haven't carefully researched it) where a candidate quickly ascended from local office to the presidency was nearly 140 years ago when  Grover Cleveland went from mayor of Buffalo in January of 1882, to governor of New York in January of 1883, to president of the United States in March of 1885.

That governorship was an important step. The US elects governors, Senators, and generals. The last time someone was elected from the US House to the presidency was 1880, and the only time someone went from having held no elective office at all to the presidency and from not being a general was 2016.

Even Barack Obama took a short victory lap in the US Senate after his Big Speech before successfully running for president.

We're living in strange times, but I still don't think the mayor of a city of 300,000 is going to go directly to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue without passing a governor's mansion or Capitol Hill. And I don't think the Democratic Party will try to make that happen.

But as we've seen, I can be wrong, and when I am it's usually about nominations.

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