Well, in one poll. Not in the polling average, which is a better indicator of the true state of the race.
But it’s noteworthy that Gabbard would lead her in any poll at any stage of the race given widespread predictions that Harris would contend seriously for the nomination and that Tulsi would be a nonfactor. Those predictions were half right — Gabbard is essentially a nonfactor. Just … not as much as Harris is, at least according to USA Today/Suffolk. It’s the first time since the campaign began that Harris has trailed Gabbard in a national survey.
Which brings us to this. I’m not one of the right’s Tulsi fans but the garish hubris of this moment from after the second debate means gloating is mandatory.
Not quite three months later, here we are:
Almost exactly one year before Election Day – and 96 days before the opening Iowa caucuses – Biden was backed by 26% of likely Democratic primary and caucus voters in the survey. Warren was second at 17%, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 13% and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 10%.
The Democratic field now has a top tier of four candidates – Biden, Warren, Sanders and now Buttigieg, whose standing rose four points from the August poll. They were followed by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 4% – up from less than 1 percent last time –and entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 3% each.
California Sen. Kamala Harris was also at 3%, a drop of three points from August.
Another noteworthy detail about this poll is that it’s the first one to show real movement for Gabbard since Hillary Clinton called her a “Russian agent.” She was at zero percent in Suffolk’s last national poll in August; her climb to four percent today was tied with Buttigieg for the largest gain in the field. Four percent is also Gabbard’s single best showing of the race to date. Clinton really did do her a favor by inexplicably picking a fight with her! And Gabbard’s taking full advantage: Her new op-ed in today’s WSJ is entitled, “I Can Defeat Trump and the Clinton Doctrine.”
As for Harris, her polling is now so dismal that I wonder if she’ll make it to the Iowa caucuses, especially with Trump’s impeachment trial destined to keep her in D.C. for weeks this winter. Normally a candidate in her position might convince herself that she can make up the ground she’s lost with some dynamo campaigning on the trail in crunch time. But if circumstances prevent her from hitting the trail, as seems likely, what hope does she have realistically? Politico sees bad omens:
Kamala Harris is dramatically restructuring her campaign by redeploying staffers to Iowa and laying off dozens of aides at her Baltimore headquarters, according to campaign sources and a memo obtained by POLITICO Wednesday, as she struggles to resuscitate her beleaguered presidential bid.
The moves come as Harris is hemorrhaging cash and in danger of lacking the resources to mount a competitive bid against better-funded rivals in Iowa. The overhaul will touch nearly every facet of Harris’ operation, with layoffs or re-deployments coming at headquarters, as well as in New Hampshire, Nevada and her home state of California, a Super Tuesday prize that her advisers once viewed as a big asset.
She needs all the help she can get in Iowa, as momentarily she’s tied for fifth at 2.7 percent, barely ahead of Gabbard. In fact, things are so bad that right now she’s not a sure thing to be onstage at the December debate:
The debate ramifications: This gets @TulsiGabbard ONE POLL away from qualifying for the November debate. She's also halfway through the polling threshold for December. Also notably, @KamalaHarris still hasn't qualified for December, needing one more poll https://t.co/RKRRj3Glu9
— Zach Montellaro (@ZachMontellaro) October 30, 2019
She’ll probably make it. But if she falls short, I wonder if she’ll cut her losses and try to leverage what’s left of her credibility as a national figure by endorsing Biden or Warren. She’s a potential Attorney General in the next Democratic administration, especially if she helps the eventual president to win the nomination. And her support might be worth a smidgen more if she drops out early than it would be if she hangs around and gets humiliated in Iowa and New Hampshire, essentially forcing her from the race. Stay tuned.
One more detail from the Suffolk poll. In August, Trump trailed a generic Democrat 41/39 head to head. Now, with the Ukraine matter exposed and Dems racing ahead with impeachment, Trump … leads the generic Democrat 41/39. Hmmm!