2020 Democratic primary poll: Elizabeth Warren now trails, uh, John Kerry

It’s early, it’s early, I know. It’s earlier than early. The polls are all, or mostly, name recognition. But between this and the various other unflattering data points piling up on her, there’s a faint “Jeb 2016” odor in the air. Strong candidate on paper! Expected to be formidable, if not ultimately the nominee. Then: Faceplant.

It should be noted that the margin of error in this poll is 3.8 percent, meaning that she and Kerry are effectively tied. At zero.

Only one member of the top 12 has gained more since October than the margin of error might account for. That would be Beto! The big losers in the past two months are Kamala Harris, interestingly, and … Elizabeth Warren, who’s lost five points and momentarily sits even with [deep breath] Mike Bloomberg. I don’t know what might have caused Harris to slip. (This, maybe?) I have a fair guess what caused Warren to. If the jury’s still out on whether her DNA test backfired, at least short-term, I’d say they’re getting close to wrapping up deliberations.

CNN also asked people whether they view particular candidates favorably or unfavorably. Biden’s at 54/29. Bernie’s at 51/35. Warren’s at … 30/32. I’m confident that she’s but a few hyper-woke soundbites away from turning that around.

Harris and Warren aren’t the only losers here. Harry Enten notes that Bernie’s testing the waters but they’re lukewarm at best:

The good news is that he’s the likely frontrunner, at least as the race picks up, if Uncle Joe doesn’t run. The bad news is … why wouldn’t Biden run at this point when he’s leading every poll?

I’m curious to know which candidates lost votes to O’Rourke. Harris and Warren are the obvious suspects but that’s a hard equation to square. Warren is running as a class warrior, Harris is running as the wokest candidate in the race. O’Rourke doesn’t fit neatly into either of those categories. He’s firmly liberal but not quite a leftist the way Bernie is a leftist. In fact…

O’Rourke’s in his own lane right now as the Obama-esque inspirational candidate. (Cory Booker badly wants to be that guy but he tries too hard.) Which is really dangerous for the competition, because Obama’s great strength in 2008 — by his own admission — was the fact that he became a “blank screen” onto which people could project their own fondest political desires. If you were a liberal, Obama sounded like a liberal. If you were a centrist, he sounded like a centrist. Democrats of all ideological stripes were wooed by his charisma, so they went about the psychological process of convincing themselves that Obama shared all the same principles they did. They wanted to cast a vote for him emotionally so they found a way to do it intellectually.

That may be happening to some extent with O’Rourke too. If you watched his viral video defending the NFL’s anthem-kneelers, maybe you’ve convinced yourself that he’s just as progressive on racial matters on anyone else in the race. If you’ve seen him on the stump chattering excitedly about government programs to adoring applause, maybe you’ve gotten yourself to believe that he’s Warren’s and Sanders’s equal in his economic agenda. O’Rourke will have a much harder time pulling that trick over the long haul of a primary than Obama did since he’ll have many more candidates poking holes in his rhetoric than O had in 2008 and because he lacks the historic racial distinction that Obama enjoyed, which lent his charisma an element of messianism. But he may have more room to maneuver ideologically than his competition will. People who like you in their gut will look for reasons to like you on principle.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022