With Iowa as unsettled as it has ever been, a critical debate

Make no mistake: Iowa debates matter, writes Dan Guild. What’s at stake as the candidates take the stage in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you are familiar with the history of the Iowa caucuses, you know just how unprecedented this cycle is:

  • A two-term VP of a popular president cannot break 25 percent in Iowa.
  • Incredibly, three Iowa polls have been taken since the start of the new year, and among the four candidates the highest any has received is 24 percent and the lowest is 15 percent. There has never been a race this close among four candidates.
  • With the caucuses a mere three weeks away, only about 40 percent of voters say they have made up their mind.
  • Is there any trend here? Bernie Sanders is up in all three most recent polls, and there are significant downward moves for Pete Buttigieg in two of them.  For the most part, though, this is a glorious mess.  Who is ahead? No one knows.

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    How to end a presidential campaign (and how not to)

    Montana Governor Steve Bullock became the latest Democrat to end his presidential campaign on December 2, acknowledging in a statement that he “won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates.”

    Like several others who have dropped out of the race, Bullock had a wealth of experience and was solid on many key issues for Democrats. He repeatedly vetoed abortion restrictions passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, yet somehow persuaded the majority party to expand Medicaid in Montana and take steps to limit the influence of dark money. He could have given President Donald Trump a hell of fight in a general election, having won re-election in 2016 even as Trump carried his state by 20 points.

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    Thirteen quick takes on the November Democratic debate

    With four presidential contenders packed closely together at the top of the field and a majority of Democratic voters not yet committed to a candidate, televised debates could make or break several campaigns between now and the February 3 Iowa caucuses. As Dan Guild discussed here, debates have fueled breakouts for some lower-polling candidates in past election cycles.

    If you missed the fifth Democratic debate on November 20, you can read the full transcript here. My thoughts on the evening in Atlanta:

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    It's getting late for the lower tier in Iowa

    What Dan Guild found after analyzing decades of Iowa caucus polling from this point in the election cycle. -promoted by Laura Belin

    For candidates struggling nationally, Iowa is the last, great hope.

    I have been on campaigns like those. You draw hope from stories of conversion. A vice-chair of a town committee announces their support, or a canvasser talks to someone who just converted from the front-runner to you. You think, just another debate, or a new set of ads. Then one fine morning, a poll will show…

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    Twelve quick takes on the third Democratic debate

    First disclaimer: I don’t agree with the Democratic National Committee’s debate criteria and encourage Iowans to keep listening to all the presidential candidates.

    Second disclaimer: I doubt anything that happens more than four months before anyone votes will significantly affect the battle for the Democratic nomination. As Dan Guild has shown, history tells us more than half of Iowa Democrats who participated in the 2004 and 2008 caucuses decided in the final month.

    That said, here are my thoughts on last night’s three-hour debate at Texas Southern University in Houston.

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