To Iowa, and Beyond! On the Presidential Campaign Trail – “Sunday Political Brunch” - August 11, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Our State Fair is now underway here in the Mountain State of West Virginia, but our friends in Iowa also have the same State Fair dates. Because of the “first in the nation” caucuses in the Hawkeye State, there will be 20-plus Democratic candidates kissing pigs, and eating deep-fried Twinkies, all to secure caucus votes next year. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The National Trend” – According to the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll, Joe Biden leads with 31-percent, with Bernie Sanders at 15.8-percent, although both men are down slightly after this week. Elizabeth Warren has risen to 15.5-percent and is trending up. Kamala Harris is in fourth place at 8.3-percent, taking a dive after a rough second debate performance. Beto O’Rourke is not moving the needle much at 5.5-percent, and neither is Cory Booker at 2.3-percent.

“The Iowa Trend” – Of course the nationwide poll means nothing if you don’t perform well in the state with the first vote, Iowa. The Real Clear Politics composite poll in Iowa has Joe Biden leading at 25-percent and trending up. Elizabeth Warren is at 16-percent and is also moving up. Kamala Harris is at 14-percent but dropping. Bernie Sanders has 12-percent and is also declining. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is on the rise at 7-percent, and neighboring Minnesotan Amy Klobuchar has risen up to 3-percent.

“Only 3 or 4 Tickets!” – There’s an old political bromide when people chatter about the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries. You’ll often hear people say, “There are only three tickets out of Iowa,” or, “There are only three tickets out of New Hampshire!” In truth, it’s hard to imagine any more than three or four candidates surviving the first two contests, with the trail moving on to the Nevada Caucuses and the South Carolina Primary, before February ends. Every poll I’ve seen continues to show Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris as the only viable candidates at this point in time.

“The Politics of Mass Shootings” – I apologize for even bringing this up. It’s unseemly as a nation grieves. My prayers are with the victims' families and their communities in El Paso and Dayton, both cities where I have done extensive broadcast work in my career. That said, we’ve seen a lot of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) Texas this week, who represented El Paso during three terms in Congress. We’ve also seen much from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) Ohio. Both men will be legitimate contenders for the vice-presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. Ohio is a must-win state for both parties, and Democrats believe Texas is vulnerable, given that O’Rourke nearly beat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas in 2018. The politics of all of this is legitimate, although the timing and circumstances are so sad.

“The Dark Horse?” – Did I write off Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota too early in my column last week? Could be! This week Klobuchar qualified to be the eighth candidate in next month’s ABC News Debates. She’s also risen to sixth-place with 3 percent of the vote in the latest Iowa polls. Yes, I think she remains a long-shot for the presidential nomination, but she is a legitimate contender for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket. Her Minnesota roots will have big appeal in the must-win neighboring states of Wisconsin and Iowa. As with O’Rourke and Brown, whom I mentioned above, keep Klobuchar on your short list for VP. Minnesota has a knack for sending vice presidents to Washington. Think Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.

Who do you think would make a good vice president? Just click the comment button to make your voice heard!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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