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The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet

20 November, 2019

First blood, blood, and bad blood: That is this week’s story in the presidential race.
Start with blood. This day in California, Representative Eric Swalwell ended his race for the Democratic nomination, shocking news for the many Americans who had no idea he had been operating in the first place. Swalwell will seek reelection to the U.S. House instead. He is the first candidate to depart the crowded race.
Swalwell’s campaign was quixotic from the start, but unlike Cervantes’s hero, he never actually journeyed anywhere. Swalwell was unable to construct much name recognition, despite managing to qualify for the very first Democratic debate in June. His most prominent moment came early in the second night of that argument, when he challenged Joe Biden to hand off the torch to a younger generation. Biden laughed Swalwell off; Kamala Harris delivered the punch that Swalwell was expecting to land on the former vice president; and Swalwell more or less vanished, ending up with the second-least amount of speaking time of the night, before just Andrew Yang. He was in danger of not making the second debate, in the end of July.
This isn’t necessarily an indictment of Swalwell; it’s just that it is hard to get attention in this field. One common explanation for why long-shot candidates run would be to raise their own profiles, and possibly Swalwell did, but based on a Morning checkup survey, 50 percent of respondents had never heard of himwith just his House colleague Seth Moulton faring worse.
It speaks well of Swalwell that he is able to read the writing on the wall when a lot of his rivals are still feigning illiteracy. While he could be the very first to leave the race, he is very likely to be joined by others before too long. Take John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, who recently fired much of his team and is trying a relaunch. After initially appearing to attribute his former aides, he told a reporter in Iowa that the real issue was probably the candidate. “Surely the vast bulk of the issue with the effort was me not being as great of a messenger as I need to be, but you can’t switch or commerce in a new offender,” he said. Which may be true of this Hickenlooper effort, but voters can change or trade in–not that a lot of them were at his corner in the first location.
Then, the new blood: Much as Swalwell prepares to depart, another Californian, the financier Tom Steyer, will enter the race, my colleague Edward-Isaac Dovere reports. I have written in this space multiple times that the field is finally at ability and will just psychologist, and new candidates keep emerging. (Hello, Joe Sestak! Nice to see you, Steve Bullock!) Steyer is a fascinating case because he announced back in January that he would not run. Yet despite seeing a field of coiffed white dudes don’t go anywhere, he’s seemingly tempted to try his hand anyway.

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