Bryan Curtis of the Press Box podcast for reminding me of this) so they can't focus on all 20+ candidates). Plus they want clicks and hits and viewers. So, what are they doing? Two things:
- Making guesses about viability and focusing on those candidates that might stick around the longest. How do they know someone is more viable? They either focus on polls, which is somewhat circular since those who get more press do better, lather, rinse, repeat OR they focus on fundraising (more on this below). Of course, they (and the rest of us) screwed up the last time about who was viable. So, maybe not a great strategy.
- Going for the flavor of the week. Beto got a week, Buttigieg got a week, Biden is getting maybe two weeks because he is more viable/has more stuff on tape/is more likely to gaffe/whatever. The media loves narratives, so it is easy to spin up a new narrative with every new candidate. My own narrative for this tends to be: FFS, can't someone stay in the Senate so that the Dems, if they win the White House in 2020, can actually govern.
The key is this: we have no idea who is going to do well when the votes are cast. Once the primaries start, then we will know if Elizabeth Warren's combo of policy papers and Dad jokes is working; whether a former prosecutor can play well to a base sick of too much prosecution of the base (Harris); whether Bernie plays well to actual democrats who show up; whether Biden's strategy of playing to old people works; etc, etc.
Re fundraising--yes, money is important, and much of the fundraising is based on expected viability. So, guess what, the media is gaming the viability thing... until the voters say otherwise. Once someone does well or poorly in the first few races, the money will desert the losers and run to the winners. Perhaps the media is doing the women a favor by setting low expectations? Ok, probably not, but the point here is that the money will come later. The keys right now are:
- can you get enough money to sustain until the bigger money rolls in?
- Can you hire good staff so that you don't screw up constantly (Biden shows that money does not mean one buys good staff apparently)?
- with California earlier in the process, can you compete there? I saw a survey today about Arizona. Sorry, but fuck Arizona. What is going in California? Hint: Harris and Warren are both likely to play well there.
- the damned debate rules--that one needs a certain number of money coming in from enough people to make the big debate stage. I am not looking forward to the mass debates. Are you?
See, I am guilty too, as 20 plus candidates are too much to follow. I am not making decisions based on viability as I have no idea. I just write selectively because the press has already selected which folks I know more about. Oh, I also know about Beto and Pete. Oy. No thanks.
Anyhow, my mantra will be that it is too damned early. And I will focus on one single question--not who will win the nomination, but whether they can win without alienating a hunk of the Democrats. As Obama said three years ago, Democracy is on the ballot. Let's keep that in mind rather than insisting on a candidate that is 100% perfect. This is an awful time for purity tests.