Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: August 17-23, 2019

 Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the events that matter in the 2020 presidential election. 

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a new weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.   

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Candidates by the Number 

There are seven new candidates running since last week, including one Democrat, two Republicans, and one Libertarian. In total, 823 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quotes of the Week
“There’s a fundamental values gap between the mainstream Democratic Party, which tends to be more socially liberal and cosmopolitan in its outlook, and rural and small-town voters. Unless a candidate can build bridges across that gap on the basis of values, it’s very difficult to make any policy proposal matter.

Right now, no one is building those bridges … [but] if you can move rural voters, even a few points, it becomes possible to win in states you can’t otherwise win.”

– Mark Mellman, Democratic pollster

“If our economic growth falters, the president will blame the Federal Reserve Board for its bungling of interest rates, and he’ll claim that he bravely jeopardized his reelection bid by taking on the Chinese – something that had to be done. He will be right on both counts and he will be forgiven by his supporters.”

– Liz Peek, Fox News

“A recession between now and the 2020 election would likely put a dagger in the heart of President Trump’s reelection chances. The president has argued that the currently low unemployment and high stock prices are the product of his economic policies. If unemployment rises and stock prices fall, as they would in a recession, it is hard to see how he won’t own these failures in the minds of voters.

Not that he won’t try to pin the economy’s problems on others, most notably the Federal Reserve and the conduct of monetary policy, but I doubt most voters will be duped.”

– Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics

Week in Review

Inslee and Moulton end 2020 bids, 21 Democrats remain

Jay Inslee and Seth Moulton suspended their presidential campaigns this week.

Inslee entered the race with climate change as his top priority. “Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we’ve seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we’ve seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums in September,” he said.

Inslee will run for a third term as governor of Washington.

In an interview with The New York Times Friday, Moulton said, “I think it’s evident that this is now a three-way race between Biden, Warren, and Sanders, and really it’s a debate about how far left the party should go.”

Inslee and Moulton are the fifth and six elected officials or notable public figures—after Richard Ojeda, Eric Swalwell, Mike Gravel, and John Hickenlooper—to exit the Democratic presidential primary. 

Other low-polling candidates have been asked about the future of their campaigns this week. Kirsten Gillibrand said she was open to running for vice president if her campaign did not succeed. “I will do public service in all its forms,” she said.

John Delaney did not rule out a possible gubernatorial run in Maryland. “I’ve always believed in the Lincoln expression, which is, ‘You can only paddle to the next bend in the river.’ And so, I’m just paddling towards this bend,” Delaney said Thursday.

Castro becomes 10th candidate to qualify for the September and October primary debates

Julián Castro became the 10th candidate to qualify for the September and October presidential primary debates.

Unlike the first two debates this summer, candidates must reach both a grassroots fundraising threshold and a polling threshold. They need 130,000 unique contributors with 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. Candidates also need to receive 2 percent support or more in four national or early-state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada—publicly released between June 28 and Aug. 28.

The following nine candidates also reached both thresholds: Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

Three candidates have crossed the fundraising bar only: Tulsi GabbardTom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson. To make the stage, Steyer needs one more qualifying poll and Gabbard two. Williamson does not have a single qualifying polling.

The debate will take place in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 12-13, 2019, with the second night scheduled if the field exceeds 10 participants.  If more than 10 candidates qualify, a selection event will take place on Aug. 29, and the candidates will be randomly distributed across both nights.

ABC News announced this week that George Stephonapolus, David Muir, Jorge Ramos, and Linsey Davis will moderate the debate. Texas Southern University will host the event.

Candidates congregate in Iowa and California this week

Several multi-candidate forums were held this week, beginning with the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa.

More than a dozen candidates also spoke at the Iowa Federation of Labor’s annual convention in Altoona Wednesday.

This weekend, Michael BennetCory BookerJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharTim RyanBernie SandersJoe SestakTom SteyerElizabeth WarrenMarianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang are attending the summer meetingof the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

Trump on the trail

Donald Trump confirmed Sunday that he would keep Mike Pence as his running mate in 2020.

While he did not hold any campaign rallies this week, Trump headlined a fundraiser for Matt Bevin’s gubernatorial reelection campaign in Kentucky Wednesday.

The Trump campaign also announced its Iowa leadership team Thursday with Gov. Kim Reynolds and Chuck Grassley as honorary state chairs, Carly Miller as state director, and Stephanie Alexander as regional political director. 

Republican primary could soon get another contender

Conservative radio show host and former Rep. Joe Walsh is considering entering the Republican primary.

“If I’m to do it, it’s going to happen soon,” Walsh said Wednesday. “I think if there is an alternative out there, the money will follow.”

“While Walsh would not confirm he would enter the primary, two sources who spoke to him said he was privately confirming he would announce his presidential bid this weekend,” Politico reported.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Each Friday, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.

Heather Hargreaves is a staffer with experience managing the NextGen America issue group, which Steyer founded. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics and political science in 2003.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, field organizer and Campaign for Change Nevada director
  • 2006 Steve Westly California gubernatorial campaign, field director

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: NextGen America, executive vice president and executive director
  • 2015-2017: NextGen Climate, national advocacy director and national program vice president
  • 2010-2015: Mercury Public Affairs, vice president
  • 2009-2010: Alliance for Climate Protection, deputy field director

What she says about Steyer:

“Tom is the only candidate with the experience to call out Trump as a fraud, beat him on the economy, and start putting the American people before corporations.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 19-23, 2015

August 19, 2015: Martin O’Malley held a press conference in front of Trump International Hotel Las Vegas on labor issues and the 2016 election.

August 20, 2015: TIME published its cover story interview with Donald Trump about presidential temperament, immigration, tax policy, and other issues.

August 21, 2015: Donald Trump held a rally in Mobile, Alabama, attended by an estimated 20,000 people.

August 22, 2015: The Kentucky Republican Party approved holding a presidential caucus rather than primary, which would allow Rand Paul to simultaneously run for president and U.S. Senate.

August 23, 2015: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won their respective party’s Cast Your Kernel poll at the Iowa State Fair.


Since 1824, how many winning presidential candidates have lost their home state?