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Another one bites the dust

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This time, it’s Cory Booker. He just announced, via Twitter, that he’s dropping out of the race.

“It’s with a full heart that I share this news—I’m suspending my campaign for president. To my team, supporters, and everyone who gave me a shot—thank you. I am so proud of what we built, and I feel nothing but faith in what we can accomplish together.”

Short and sweet. The Senator joins the other Democratic candidates who have left the race—Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Eric Swalwell and the others.

Those who will debate tomorrow night are a dwindling bunch: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar.

It’s still a tight race (and we can’t count out Michael Bloomberg, who’s ineligible to debate because he’s self-funding his campaign). Biden is still the favorite, nationally, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Percentage-wise, the odds in favor of winning the nomination are:

Biden: 37%

Sanders: 23%

No one: 14%

Warren: 13%

Buttigieg: 10%

All others: 2%

To me, this indicates that most Democratic voters haven’t made up their minds. Overwhelmingly, sentiment among Democrats and many independents is that Trump absolutely must go. Nothing else matters. They don’t care which Democrat is elected, as long as he or she is able to beat the worst president in history and restore normalcy to American politics and culture.

That’s certainly the way I feel. I have a soft spot for Mayor Pete, and I’m amazed that a gay man has come this far; but I wonder if enough Americans can put aside their discomfort with a gay man and vote for him. I also have some trepidation about Sanders and Warren; both may be too far to the left to win the actual election. That leaves Klobuchar, whom I’m increasingly liking. She’s a moderate progressive, has the best smile of all the candidates (no small thing when so much of the race is run on television), and is a woman. It also leaves Bloomberg. I saw one analysis that said Bloomberg, of all the candidates, is best poised to win Florida, because he’s an elderly New York Jew and Florida is filled with elderly New York Jews (of whom I’m one, too).

After the disastrous embarrassment of the 2000 election in Florida (remember “hanging chads”?), Florida has emerged as possibly the most important swing state. I know that people talk a lot about Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin as the swing states, where fewer than 78,000 voters gave the 2016 election to Trump.

But look at the electoral votes of all the states. Let’s assume the Democrats hold all the states they won in 2016. Now, suppose Trump wins Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16) and Wisconsin (10), as he did in 2016, for a total of 46, and the Democrat wins Florida (29). The Democrat then would have to compensate for losing the three Midwest states by winning a state Trump won in 2016 that has at least 17 electoral votes; or the Democrat would have to win at least two Trump states with a combined total of at least 17 electoral votes. What state/s could qualify? Let’s look at a couple possibilities. (Keep in mind that Bloomberg is not included in most recent polls due to his non-debate status.)

North Carolina (15 electoral votes). Trump won in 2016. But Sanders and Biden are currently ahead of him in the polls, according to FiveThirtyEight. So North Carolina, which is trending blue, could be a significant Democratic win.

Ohio (18 electoral votes). Trump won in 2016. Polling results there have been mixed, but in FiveThirtyEight’s latest roundup, four polls show Democrats beating him this year, while only two show Trump beating the Democrat (four others are even). So Ohio could be a big pickup for Democrats.

Texas (38 electoral votes). One of the big enchiladas. The Lone Star State went for Trump in 2016, of course, but guess what? FiveThirtyEight has Biden trailing him by a single point (48%-47%). But RealClearPolitics has Biden beating Trump in two of four Texas polls.

Now, remember I said “suppose Trump wins Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16) and Wisconsin (10), as he did in 2016, for a total of 46.” But is this a valid assumption? No. Currently (as of Jan. 8), every Democratic candidate is beating Trump in Michigan!

So what’s the bottom line?

It’s going to be a fight, but North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Michigan—states Trump won in 2016–are all distinctly winnable by the Democratic candidate! I doubt that Texas will make the switch in 2020. But between the other three, there’s a total of 49 electoral votes. That’s easily enough, with Florida, to hand the election to the Democrat.

So I’m hopeful. This is the Democrats’ race to lose. Given their history of circular firing squads (cf. 2016), it might be too much to expect them to maintain solidarity. But I’m feeling good right now.

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