Dem Candidates Trail in Home States

By Richard Morris & Eileen McGann

May 23, 2019 4 min read

Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke and Elizabeth Warren better watch out ... They are headed for a fall!

Current polling shows each one losing his or her home state to Biden and Sanders in the upcoming Democratic primary. Nothing derails a candidate like a loss at home. When the voters who, presumably, know a candidate the best vote against him, the rest of the country cannot help but notice.

Currently, Harris is losing California, where she scores only 17% of the vote against Biden's 26% and Sanders' 18%, according to the Quinnipiac Poll of April 10.

Beto doesn't do much better in Texas, where he wins only 22% of the vote against 23% for Biden and 17% for Sanders (Emerson Poll April 29). O'Rourke, who is fresh off a Texas Senate race where he won over 80% of the state's Democrats in his general election contest against Sen. Ted Cruz, has to be both surprised and disappointed at the poll. "Where have all my voters gone?" he must wonder.

And Warren, who has represented the people of Massachusetts for six years, runs a distant third there with only 14% of the vote as against 26% for Sanders and 23% for Biden (Emerson Poll April 8).

Ironically, Harris' decision to run was partially influenced by the action of her state legislature in moving up the date of the primary in California to Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. O'Rourke and Warren also both anticipated a boost when their respective state legislatures followed suit and moved their primaries up to March 3 as well.

Now, what she hoped would be a catalyst to her candidacy — a big win in the biggest state — will more likely be a drag — a second- or third-place finish at home.

For Harris, this reversal of fortune looms particularly large. California will select the largest share of delegates to the Democratic Convention. Party leaders moved the state's primary date from June 7 in 2016 to March 3 in a bid to increase the state's relevance and power. But if Harris thought it would give her a boost, she must now recalculate and pour water on high expectations.

Nor can we assume that these hometown candidates will move up as their primary days approach. More likely, they will lose ground as lesser-known candidates make their cases and eat further into their hometown bases.

The disappointing home state results are also likely to impact Warren in the New Hampshire primary, still the nation's first, now set for Tuesday, Feb. 11. Because Warren comes from next-door Massachusetts, a poor showing here will be seen as a major setback. Her problems are compounded by having to face another next-door neighbor in Sanders, senator from Vermont.

So far, her performance in New Hampshire polls is dismal. In the Monmouth Poll, taken May 9, she runs a terrible fourth at 8% of the vote, trailing Biden (36%), Sanders (18%) and Buttigieg (9%).

Democratic candidates and their strategists who maneuvered and battled to move up their home state primaries to March 3 should have been careful what they wished for.

Photo credit: mohamed_hassan at Pixabay

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