Half a year ago, I thought that the Democratic nominee for president would be one of these four candidates: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris. This wasn’t just my view, it was widely shared among those who, unlike me, are sometimes right about modern political horse races.
Now, Kamala Harris is long gone, and the Biden and Warren campaigns are on life support.
With Harris gone and Warren seemingly on her way out, only two female candidates remain: Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard. The latter is the favorite of some Republicans, but not enough Democrats to make the debate stage. Warren, as I said, is on life support.
Thus, it’s quite possible that Klobuchar, off of her third place finish in New Hampshire, will become the last woman standing in the Democratic race.
Six months ago, who expected this? I didn’t expect it one week ago after Klobuchar’s weak showing in Iowa.
Does Klobuchar have a realistic shot at being the Democratic nominee? I have no clear idea, and if I had one it would probably be wrong.
I will say that Klobuchar is the very model of a Democratic establishment favorite. More than anyone other than Biden who entered this contest, she fits that bill. Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, and Kirsten Gillibrand all came with bells and whistles. Klobuchar is just plain Amy, long time loyal mainstream Democrat.
Thus, there’s no reason why, with Biden in terrible shape, establishment Dems and center-left Democratic voters won’t rally behind, if they think she has a decent shot at beating Sanders and as good a shot as anyone who remains in the field at beating President Trump. And if Klobuchar becomes the favorite candidate of the establishment, she will have some kind of shot at the nomination.
The key, then, is for Klobuchar to follow up her solid New Hampshire showing with solid showings elsewhere. That won’t be easy.
How much, if any, would being the last woman standing help her with female voters? Does she have the infrastructure to compete in the upcoming states? Will she receive more than de minimis support from African-American voters?
What impact will Mike Bloomberg’s candidacy have on hers? Was her New Hampshire showing the product of what one reader describes as that state’s tendency to elect “sappy” candidates and women?
FiveThiryEight’s prediction record, though not that good anymore, is still better than mine. It doesn’t see Klobuchar having a path to gaining a majority of delegates via the primaries and caucuses.
However, FiveThirtyEight does see a 33 percent chance of a contested convention. Sean Trende also believes a brokered convention (to use his phrase) is a realistic possibility. In that event, Klobuchar could be part of the mix but, again, only if she follows up New Hampshire with strong showings elsewhere.
The bottom line: A fifth place finish in Iowa and a third place finish in New Hampshire isn’t enough to make one excited about Amy Klobuchar’s chances. Ordinarily, it would barely be enough to keep her bid alive (just ask Elizabeth Warren who finished third and fourth in these races).
But this isn’t an ordinary race and Klobuchar’s situation is very different from Warren’s.
All I can say with confidence is that (1) Klobuchar has a good chance of being the last woman standing and (2) contrary to what I believed until recently, she is not a no-hoper.