Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: September 28-October 4, 2019

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News BriefingEvery 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.

Candidates by the Number

Number of registered presidential candidates by party, 2019-2020 

There are four new candidates running since last week, including one Democrat. In total, 880 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quotes of the Week

“By now, the New Hampshire primary is usually all but decided. But for the first time in recent memory, there’s no clear frontrunner among the top Democratic candidates as they enter the final stretch before February — intensifying the pressure they face to avoid a distant second or third-place finish that could sink their campaigns. It’s been years since New Hampshire had a Democratic primary this close, this late in the election cycle. At this point in the 2008 cycle, Hillary Clinton had a 20-point lead over Barack Obama. At this point in the 2016 race, Sen. Bernie Sanders had a double-digit lead over Clinton, and he went on to win the state by 22 points.”

– Daniel Bush, PBS NewsHour digital politics editor

“Why have four of the last five incumbent presidents won reelection? There are a lot of reasons, but a big one is that the structure of the primary calendar, the rules for campaign spending, and party unified behind the president give the party in power an enormous structural advantage. In 1996 and 2012, incumbent presidents had enormous resources to run ads in swing states defining the Republican nominee, when the GOP nominee had used all his money to win the primary and did not have any cash to return fire. The Clinton and Obama campaigns, along with help from their friends the media, defined the image of Bob Dole and Mitt Romney before the contest really started. In 2004, the Bush campaign ran similar advertising against John Kerry in swing states.”

– Jim GeraghtyNational Review

Week in Review

What we know so far about Q3 fundraising

Monday was the final day for fundraising in the third quarter, and financial reports are due to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15.

Several candidates have already self-reported their fundraising. Here’s how they stack up so far:

Steve Bullock has not yet announced his Q3 figure, but he is expected to be the first candidate to apply for public financing for his campaign.

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee together raised $125 million in the third quarter of 2019. For comparison, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised $70 million in the third quarter of 2011.

12 Democrats qualify for record-breaking October presidential debate

Twelve Democratic candidates qualified for the fourth Democratic primary debate on Oct. 15, 2019:

While the first two Democratic debates were held over two nights so that no more than 10 candidates were on stage at one time, the October debate will take place on one day. 

With 12 candidates participating, it will be the most candidates on stage in a single presidential primary debate. Republicans held the previous record with 11 candidates on stage during the September 2015 debate.

Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, will host the event. Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and Marc Lacey are set to moderate.

Trump launches $8 million ad campaign on impeachment and Ukraine

The Donald Trump campaign announced an $8 million ad campaign focused on the impeachment inquiry. The ad buy includes $1 million spent on an ad targeting corruption allegations in Ukraine against Joe Biden.

CNN rejected two of three new ads submitted by the Trump campaign, citing fact issues and disparagement of CNN employees. The one ad it accepted, “Changing Things,” presents Trump’s policy on trade, immigration, and jobs.

“It is unusual but not unprecedented for television networks to reject a political advertisement from a presidential candidate. On the eve of last year’s midterm elections, major channels, including Fox News, removed a commercial from Mr. Trump’s political team that portrayed immigrants as a violent threat,” according to The New York Times.

Biden also launched a major ad campaign this week, spending $6 million on ads that will appear on YouTube, Hulu, and other streaming services, and broadcast television in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Sanders temporarily leaves the campaign trail following medical procedure

Bernie Sanders canceled campaign events this week and postponed his first television ad launch in Iowa after undergoing a heart procedure for a blocked artery Wednesday.

He will be discharged from the hospital before the end of the weekend, according to a statement from his wife, Jane Sanders. He is expected to participate in the October presidential debate.

2020 Dems assemble in California, South Carolina, and Nevada for events this week

Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy Klobuchar,  Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren will speak at the Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles Friday and Saturday.

Michael BennetSteve BullockJohn DelaneyTulsi GabbardHarrisTom Steyer, and Andrew Yang are confirmed to attend the Blue Jamboree in South Carolina Saturday.

Earlier this week, BidenBookerButtigiegCastroHarrisKlobucharO’RourkeWarren, and Yang participated in the 2020 Gun Safety Forum hosted by Giffords, March for Our Lives, and MSNBC in Nevada.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Resource Spotlight

The Archive of Political Emails was founded in July 2019 to compile political fundraising and advocacy emails sent by candidates, elected officials, PACs, nonprofits, NGOs, and other political actors.

Web developer Chris Herbert said in an interview with Ballotpedia that the project could fill a gap in the public record.

“The dream is for it to be something like the Wayback Machine for political emails,” Herbert said. “Ideally, it would be something that is around for years or decades so that people can look back and say, ‘This is someone’s first congressional campaign and now they’re running for president.’ It’s a glimpse into how they communicated long ago.”

Presidential email campaigns present a unique technical challenge to capture, however. 

Herbert explained, “These campaigns are very sophisticated and they are going to segment their list down to the point where someone in a different zip code is going to potentially get a different message than someone in another zip code, or someone who has donated vs. someone who hasn’t donated, or someone who is male vs. female. There are a lot of ways they are segmenting their lists, so this is a narrow window into what they are sending out.”

To learn more about the Archive and view screenshots and searchable text from emails sent by 2020 presidential candidates, click here.

Facebook SpendingDaily Presidential News Briefing - Facebook Spending (September 23-29, 2019)

Poll Spotlight

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Poll One (September 25-29, 2019)

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Poll Two (September 22-26, 2019)

Staff Spotlight

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

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Staffer Spotlight - Randy Jones

Randy Jones is a Democratic staffer with experience campaigning in West Virginia. Before joining the Yang campaign, Jones worked with the People’s House Project, which describes itself as “dedicated to recruiting and supporting working-class candidates who are at home in the places Progressives need to reclaim.” Jones graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in political science and government in 2015.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2018 Richard Ojeda (D-W.V.) U.S. House campaign, political director and campaign manager
  • 2010 Mike Oliverio (D-W.V.) U.S. House campaign, Eastern District assistant director

Other experience:

  • 2019: People’s House Project, political director
  • 2017: Virtual Global, Inc., strategic partnership manager
  • 2011-2016: Strategic Health Resources, LLC, senior government relations associate
  • 2015: AmeriCorps, West Virginia University Center for Service & Learning

What he says about Yang: “Clearly the candidate, the teams message and our strategy are working very well and we are proud of it.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 30-October 4, 2015

  • September 30, 2015: CNBC announced its criteria for participation in the third Republican presidential primary debate: reach an average of 2.5 percent in national polls from a select group of organizations to make the main stage or reach 1 percent in any of those polls to make the undercard debate.
  • October 1, 2015: Lawrence Lessig wrote an op-ed in Politico Magazine saying the Democratic Party was discouraging his campaign
  • October 2, 2015: Former President George W. Bush attended a fundraiser for his brother, Jeb Bush.
  • October 3, 2015: The National Education Association, which has 3 million members, endorsed Hillary Clinton.
  • October 4, 2015: Donald Trump discussed his tax proposal, gun regulation, and government cuts in an interview on ABC’s The Week.


Which state was the first to pass a law calling for presidential primaries?

  1. Michigan→
  2. Wyoming→
  3. Massachusetts→
  4. Florida→