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September 2019 Debate

Updated on September 14, 2019
By Mélencron - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77646130
By Mélencron - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77646130

September 2019 Pre-Debate Analysis - Updated September 11, 2019

The deadline for qualifying for the September 2019 debate was Wednesday August 28. Gabbard, Gillibrand, Williamson, Ryan, Delaney, Bennet, deBlasio, Bullock and Steyer will miss this debate. All of the above except for Steyer had appeared on stage for the 2nd debate. There is little good news for any of these candidates except for possibly Steyer and Gabbard who came the closest to qualifying. Steyer needed one more qualifying poll and Gabbard two. The criteria remain the same for the October debate, scheduled for a site in Ohio, October 15 and 16 (2nd night if necessary), which means the list of candidates on stage could change. Gillibrand withdrew Wednesday August 28 when it became obvious she would not qualify. As none of the other candidates other than Gabbard and Steyer, have any qualifying polls, and none of them have the requisite number of individual donors, it remains doubtful any of them will qualify for October. The qualification deadline for the October debate is October 1, That means that Steyer and Gabbard have the entire month of September to earn their ticket to the October debate through additional qualifying polls.

In fact, the You Gov Nevada poll, released on September 8, has Steyer at 2%. This is a qualifying poll for Steyer, and as such, he would be the 11th to qualify for the October debate, if none of the top ten withdraw, which would result in the debate split over two nights, with a field of six one night and five the other. On the other hand, Gabbard will likely protest the results of the ABC / Washington Post poll released the same day. The adults version have Gabbard at 1% but the registered voters version has Gabbard at 2% and the DNC has reportedly said that the adults version will count, meaning Gabbard could not use this poll as a qualifying poll. That means that Gabbard still needs two more polls. In yet another afront, which appears pretty glaring, is that Gabbard scored a 6% on the Emerson New Hampshire poll, which closed on September 9. The answer to your question - is Emerson a qualifying poll - answer is, unfortunately for Gabbard, NO. But yet - Gabbard has 2% on the CNN poll released on September 11. CNN is a qualifying poll which would mean apparently that Gabbard is now one poll shrt of earning her ticket into the October debate.

Debates do affect the state of the race to the nomination. In the June 2019 debate, Harris took Biden on directly on his position on desegregation dating back several decades. Her prominence in that debate moved her from 4th to 2nd, still behind Biden, but ahead of Sanders and Warren. In the 2nd debate, Harris was not able to maintain pace. By most accounts, Warren showed up the field in this July debate and has moved ahead of Harris and to some observers, including this author, ahead of Sanders, but still behind Biden. The debates in June and July were held over two nights, and importantly, as a result of the random draw, Warren was not on stage with Biden or Harris in either of these debates.

The narrative is slowly changing as some candidates have dropped out (Gillibrand, Swalwell, Hickenlooper, Moulton and Inslee) and others may do so in the next few weeks. In the first two debates, the sponsors held the number on stage over two nights to 20, 10 each night. The limit for the September debate has not changed, but only 10 have qualified, meaning for the first time, all 10 candidates will be on stage at the same time.

The placement on stage was determined on August 29, based on the average poll from the most recent 10 qualifying polls. On that day, the seeds matched exactly this author's projections which are based on both the median of the most recent nine polls as well as non-polling data. Since then, this author's rank for Klobuchar has dropped to #10 and Castro has moved up to #9. As there has been no polling since the debate field was set, any fluctuations in this author's ranks has been due to non-polling factors.

Biden #1 and Warren #2 are in the center, Biden to Warren's left. That means Warren's average poll number is larger than Sanders, who is #3, and will be the podium adjacent to Sanders. Harris at #4 is to the right of Warren. Then at #5 we will see Buttigieg to the left of Sanders and at #6 Yang will be to the right of Harris. Booker #7 is to the left of Buttigieg and O'Rourke #8 is to the right of Yang. On the outside left at #9 is Klobuchar and outside right at #10 is Castro.

Interesting takes on position are first that Biden and Warren will be right next to each other front and center which should tell people where the top of the race stands. We can expect that match-up to receive the most attention from the media and it would not be surprising if they command the most amount of time. However, it is quite possible, if not probable that Biden will not take on Warren in this ten candidate field. The caveat to that argument is that if Warren decides to go after Biden, then we would expect Biden to attempt to respond, unlike how he handled Harris in the 1st debate. It appears that Biden wants to stay above the Democratic fray. On the other hand, Warren has not been on stage with Biden so how does she present herself?

With Sanders to Biden's left and no doubt irritated that he is not in the middle, it will not be surprising if he tries to shift the narrative to one based on Sanders vs. Biden. This author does not expect Sanders to take on Warren directly. There are three more debates in 2019 alone after this one, and as such, none of these top three candidates need to feel like this is when they need to make the so called knock out punch against one another.

It is doubtful that any of the top three (Biden, Warren, Sanders) would want to take on Harris, who at this point has been relegated out of the top tier. That would simply give people the impression that they believe that she is in the mix.

Harris needs a bounce back and somehow she is going to have to get into the action early, but how does she pick her spot and what issue may arise that is in her wheelhouse? Further, the most recent update in median polling shows that there is only a two point difference now between Harris and Buttigieg, and Harris has continued to lose ground. if this an opportunity for Buttigieg to find an issue that he disagrees with Harris on to try and take her on directly?

There is always a surprise and all of the remaining candidates need a standout performance to move up the charts. Realistically, looking further ahead to the caucuses and primaries, a candidate who is not in top 5 mathematically stands very little chance of picking up delegates. Therefore, Yang, Booker, O'Rourke, Klobuchar and Castro all need to push to get to the #5 spot, currently held by Buttigieg. In that list, the surprise on the negative side is O'Rourke, who early on was considered a top three candidate. Beto needs to come up big in September or else his trajectory could end up seeing him not able to qualify for the November debate. It is a long time for O'Rourke to hold on hoping for a big win in Texas come March. The positive surprise is Yang at #6, and this author even has him at #5 on non--polling factors. Of the list of 2nd five candidates, he is the most likely candidate to bump Buttigieg out of the top five. Of course, if Harris continues to slide, she could end up on the #5 bubble, not Buttigieg.



September 2019 Debate Ranks and Seeds - Updated September 14, 2019

Candidate
Pre-Debate Rank
DNC Seed
Post-Debate Rank
Effect of Debate
Biden
1
1
1
0
Warren
2
2
2
0
Sanders
3
3
3
0
Harris
4
4
4
0
Buttigieg
5
5
5
0
Yang
6
6
6
0
Booker
7
7
8
-1
O'Rourke
8
8
7
+1
Castro
9
10
10
-1
Klobuchar
10
9
9
+1
Pre-Debate and Post-Debate Ranks are determined by your author, based on polling and non-polling data, effective September 13. DNC seed determined position on stage and was based on the average of the most recent 10 qualifying polls (as of 8-28).

September Debate Post-Analysis - Updated September 14, 2019

September 12 was the date for debate #3 in Houston, Texas, with all candidates on stage together for the first time, but 5 months still remains until the Iowa caucus in February, 2020.

The chart above will reflect the impact of new polling which is released over the next two weeks. As of the morning two days after the debate, all we have is some new non-polling data. That data was enough to move O'Rourke from 8th to 7th, Booker from 7th to 8th, Klobuchar from 10th to 9th and Castro from 9th to 10th. It should be noted that Steyer has been added to the author's national analysis.

In addition to the above rank order changes which occurred as a result of the new non-polling data, there are other preliminary observations to make, all based on non-polling data. The non-polling data for Biden, Warren and Sanders does not change that dynamic, with preference given to Warren, Biden and Sanders in that order. Harris did not improve her standing and Yang move slightly closer to Harris and further ahead of Buttigieg. At the bottom of the pack we have Castro whose non-polling data took a serious hit, in fact he is behind Steyer in this category.

We now need new polling data collected after the debate. The questions follow:

  1. Will polling for the top three change at all?
  2. Will Harris hold on to 4th place in polling?
  3. Will Yang's polling improve such that he could challenge Buttigieg or even Harris?
  4. Will O'Rourke's polling improve such that he begins to make a move back up the charts? If so, is Booker the candidate displaced by O'Rourke's new momentum?
  5. Will Tom Steyer poll results improve such that he could compete with Castro and Klobuchar?


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