Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: August 31-September 6, 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 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 numbers

Eight new candidates filed with the FEC since last week, including two Democrats, one Libertarian, and one Green. In total, 840 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Week

“While the ability to generate big crowds is certainly nice — it may signal enthusiasm among highly engaged voters or produce favorable media coverage — you should ignore any candidate, surrogate or media outlet that tells you that large crowd sizes mean that the polls are underestimating a candidate’s support. It’s just spin; polls are much more accurate at forecasting elections than crowd-size estimates, which don’t tell us all that much.

For every example like 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s huge crowds seemed to reflect real enthusiasm for his campaign, there is one like 2012, when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won his primary despite drawing noticeably small crowds on the campaign trail. Or take what happened in 2016. Despite a lot of hay being made about crowd sizes during the 2016 campaign, that cycle also was an argument against crowd sizes being predictive. Although now-President Trump did often draw large crowds at his primary rallies, Hillary Clinton reportedly beat him out for largest crowd of the 2016 campaign, 40,000 to 30,000. And at roughly this point in the Democratic primary in 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders was outdrawing Clinton!”

 – Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight

Week in Review

Where Schultz and Sanford stand on 2020 runs

Howard Schultz announced Friday that he would not run for president as an independent.

“My belief in the need to reform our two-party system has not wavered, but I have concluded that an independent campaign for the White House is not how I can best serve our country at this time,” he wrote in a statement.

Schultz added that the money he planned to spend on his campaign—a figure he previously put at $100 million—would be used “to invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics, and that move the country beyond two-party gridlock.”

Mark Sanford, who was expected to announce his presidential decision around Labor Day, deferred any statement until after Hurricane Dorian has passed.

He said in an interview with Fox News, “It would be something of a David and Goliath story. I mean it’s impossible at many different levels. It’d be a very steep climb. But you know that going in.”

2020 Democrats talk climate change for 7 hours

Ten candidates participated in a climate change town hall event spanning seven hours on CNN Wednesday evening: Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

Most issued new climate change proposals in advance: 

  • Booker released a $3 trillion climate change platform, which would include investments to advance environmental justice, a transition to a carbon-neutral economy by no later than 2045, the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and a $400 billion investment to create a clean energy workforce.
  • Buttigieg proposed three pillars in his $1.1 trillion climate change proposal: building a clean economy, investing in disaster relief and prevention, and promoting America’s international role in combating climate change.
  • Castro wrote in his “People and Planet First” environmental plan, “Together, we will direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments over the next decade to create ten million good paying jobs, transition away from fossil fuels, build a 100 percent clean-energy economy, and lead the world in the 21st century.”
  • Harris’ $10 trillion climate plan included promoting environmental justice, ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, implementing a progressive fee on carbon pollution, and creating a clean energy economy by 2045.
  • Klobuchar’s climate plan included the goals of 100% net zero emissions by 2050, participating in the Paris Climate Agreement, and restoring the Clean Power Plan. 
  • Warren announced that she was endorsing and adopting Jay Inslee’s climate plan. Her climate proposal would also commit an additional $1 trillion over 10 years to subsidize the transition to a clean energy economy.

Mark your calendars for the fall debates

The third Democratic primary debate is Thursday, Sept. 12. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will share the debate stage for the first time, along with Cory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang.

The Democratic National also announced that the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate will be held Oct. 15-16, 2019, in Ohio.

Since the criteria for the third and fourth debate are the same, the September debaters have already qualified.

Among the rest of the Democratic field, Tulsi GabbardTom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson are the  closest to qualifying, having already passed the fundraising threshold of 130,000 unique donors. Steyer needs one more eligible poll showing 2 percent support, Gabbard two, and Williamson three by Oct. 1.

Bill de Blasio said he could drop out of the presidential race if he did not qualify for the fourth debate.

AZ, KS, NV, and SC Republican primaries may be canceled

The Republican parties in ArizonaKansasNevada, and  South Carolina are expected to cancel their presidential primaries this weekend.

Pro-cancellation party members, including Donald Trump campaign officials, say that it’s not uncommon when an incumbent president is seeking reelection and that it reduces costs.

Joe Walsh responded, “It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.”

Bill Weld also criticized the planned cancellations, saying, “We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.”

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

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

Erin Wilson is a Democratic staffer with extensive experience in Pennsylvania politics. Wilson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in political science and government in 2005.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Pennsylvania deputy state director
  • 2008 Bob Roggio (D-Penn.) U.S. House campaign, senior advisor
  • 2006 Bob Casey (D-Penn.) U.S. Senate campaign, deputy political director
  • 2004 Joe Hoeffel (D-Penn.) U.S. Senate campaign, political coordinator

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: Office of Sen. Bob Casey, state director
  • 2014-2016: Democratic National Committee, Northeast political director
  • 2007-2014: Office of Sen. Bob Casey
    • 2011-2014: Deputy state director
    • 2009-2011: Director of outreach and special projects
    • 2007-2009: Regional representative
  • 2005-2006: Office of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.), assistant to the first lady
  • 2002-2004: Rock the Vote, Philadelphia street team leader

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 3-6, 2015

  • September 3, 2015: Donald Trump signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. Jeb Bush said he would support Trump if he became the Republican nominee. 
  • September 4, 2015: Hillary Clinton apologized for her private email server use in her third nationally televised interview as a 2016 presidential candidate.
  • September 5, 2015: NBC News reported on the Draft Biden initiative’s efforts in Iowa.
  • September 6, 2015: After reaching a $1 million crowdfunding goal, Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig said that he was running for president.


Which of the following presidential candidates did not carry any state by a margin larger than 90%?

  1. Andrew Jackson→
  2. Woodrow Wilson→
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt→
  4. Dwight Eisenhower→