Democratic Dropouts

Three candidates have dropped out of the race in three days. Ori Simon Bechtel does an autopsy on their campaigns and explains the significance to the Yang campaign.

Three more have fallen: Steve Bullock, Joe Sestak, and Kamala Harris. In any other presidential election cycle, three candidates dropping out in three days would be treated as a major development. This, as you might have noticed, is different.

An unprecedented number of major candidates have entered the race to take their shot at transforming the Democratic party at this crucial point in American history. Each candidate entering thinks they have the answer, but eventually it comes time for them to pack it in.

Navy veteran and former Pennsylvania representative Joe Sestak was the first of the three to drop. He had announced his candidacy for President in late June but failed to gain any significant traction, languishing at 0% in the polls and raising relatively small amounts of money despite having large donors for a majority of his contributions. He also had not qualified for any of the debates. At the time of this writing, Sestak’s next moves are unclear.

The second of the three was Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana. Adored by his Montana constituents, he had attempted to sell himself as a moderate who could beat Trump in red states. However, with the field already crowded with old-school moderates like John Delaney, Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, and Amy Klobuchar, it quickly became obvious that Bullock didn’t have a niche, or any significant differentiating factor to make moderates choose him over the aforementioned four. His polling average was hovering at 0.4% and his fundraising efforts were struggling when he decided to call time on his campaign. Despite the urging of many Democrats around the country, Bullock has announced that he does not intend to run for Senate in Montana, even though he is likely the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a Senate seat there.

The third and most high-profile candidate of the trio, Senator Kamala Harris, had checked all the boxes for a potential candidate that the left could unite behind. Initially, her campaign was going well—her fundraising looked good, her first debate performance was widely considered to be strong, and she immediately spiked in the polls following it, jumping up to second place overall.
However, in the second debate, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard landed a very effective attack on Harris’s record as attorney general that Harris was clearly not prepared to answer. Harris’s polling took a dive, and this, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren taking aim at Harris’s base, started a domino effect that Harris simply couldn’t recover from. Harris’s fundraising wasn’t enough to sustain her above-average burn rate, and the campaign fell into disarray. The extent of the chaos was revealed in a publicized resignation letter from state operations director Kelly Mehlenbacher, which spelled the end of Harris’s campaign. Kamala Harris dropped out of the race less than a week after the article was published, to the dismay of her fans.

What does this mean for Andrew Yang? Not a lot. Neither Harris, Bullock, or Sestak had much in the way of crossover support with Andrew Yang. He might see a small bump, but we’re likely talking tenths of a percent here, if that. However, for Andrew, the fewer people he has to contend with for air time, the better off he’ll be.

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