Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
sarahf (Sarah Frostenson, politics editor): Alright, we’re back with a 2020 draft — but with a twist. This time we’re not interested in discussing who we think will win the Democratic nomination; we want to debate who we think will drop out next.
Already the days of a debate stage maxed out with 20 candidates seem to be a thing of the past: As Geoffrey wrote on Tuesday, only nine candidates have qualified for the third debate so far. So we’re interested in debating how the field will (or won’t!) winnow in the coming weeks.
Welcome to the first 2020 “Drop-Out Draft”!!!
The rules are simple: Three rounds (with three of us playing, that means nine picks in total) in which we pick from among the candidates FiveThirtyEight considers “major.” No draft, because, well, that would be nuts. Whoever’s “team” includes the most candidates who drop out by the October debate (or by the time Iowa rolls around, if we want to be a bit more judicious and save face) will be the winner.
OK, Geoff, you’re up! End our suspense and let me and Nathaniel know how royally screwed we are.
geoffrey.skelley (Geoffrey Skelley, elections analyst): OK, so my first pick is former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. He had just 13,000 donors at the end of June and is very unlikely to make the September debate, considering he also has just one qualifying poll (he still needs three more). Plus, he has an exit ramp available to him: running for Senate in Colorado.
And it seems like Hickenlooper might be open to the idea of mounting a challenge to GOP Sen. Cory Gardner. There’s also some evidence that this might be a good move for Hickenlooper, too. A poll released Tuesday found him ahead of Gardner, 51 percent to 38 percent, and another survey this week showed Hickenlooper leading the crowded primary field by about 50 percentage points.
nrakich (Nathaniel Rakich, elections analyst): Good pick.
Yeah, Hickenlooper has resisted calls for him to run for Senate for a loooong time.
He even said back in February that “I’m not cut out to be a senator.” It seemed pretty definitive.
But then last week, he appeared to subtly change his tune when his communications director said “he hasn’t closed the door to anything.”
To me, that’s a sign that he may be preparing to jump ship.
sarahf: Do we think Hickenlooper is jeopardizing his Senate chances by continuing to stay in the presidential primary?
geoffrey.skelley: Sarah, he might be, but the Colorado Democratic primary field for the Senate race is crowded, too, with no obvious front-runner, and that is good news for Hickenlooper. It means he doesn’t have to rush to get into the race.
sarahf: And I guess with Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold ruling out running (she’d been speculated as a possible contender) … there really isn’t a clear …read more