Krystal Ball: 2020 race is starting to narrow to Sanders, Biden

Opinion by: Krystal Ball 

A new Morning Consult poll of the early primary states reveals that as Warren falls, the Democratic primary race is beginning to narrow to just two candidates: Biden and Bernie.

Here's the poll. It's got Biden and Bernie essentially unchanged from last week at 25 and 20 respectively. Meanwhile, the second tier is made up of Buttigieg at 13% and Warren all the way down in 4th place at only 12%. And regardless of whatever CNN might tell you, it is not a strong 4th.

Warren's current positioning represents a full 6 point plummet in a single week in this poll. We really haven't seen a drop of the sort that Warren seems to be experiencing now since Kamala’s fall from the top tier. Nate Silver's latest politics average has her down 5 points over just the last 3 weeks. Clearly, her Medicare-for-All equivocation has hurt her badly with voters.

Meanwhile, Warren's fall has certainly been to the benefit of Mayor Pete. But while he has enjoyed the advantages of a media fetish, no one should take him seriously as a real contender until he cracks more than 1% with black voters. Judging by the brutal Twitter thread issued yesterday by a black city councilman in South Bend, that's not going to be happening any time soon. So even if he wins Iowa and places in New Hampshire, he will get crushed in South Carolina, Nevada and the diverse states of Super Tuesday.

So that leaves the race where it maybe should have been from the start, Biden versus Bernie. It's actually an exciting state of affairs because these two men represent complete opposite ends of the ideological divide. Two completely different explanations of the political moment we are living through now. Two completely different theories of political change. It's Democratic Socialism versus Neoliberalism. Trump is an aberration versus Trump is the symptom of a deep rot. Nothing is fundamentally going to change versus political revolution. Let's negotiate versus let's organize. It's a fascinating and vital debate within the party with massive implications for the future of the working class.

Because in essence, these two men also represent a stark divide in where the future lies for the Democratic party. Do they continue their march towards being an upper-class suburban party of the professional-managerial class plus the working-class minorities who can't stomach the other side's racism? Or do they start the process of reclaiming the mantle of the party of the people that centers a multiracial working-class coalition? One path continues the Democratic party in the direction of woke signaling while selling out on economics. The other embraces economic populism as an essential and non-negotiable core of the party. That is the argument I would love to watch play out explicitly in this primary process.

There's also some reason to believe that Bernie may continue to surge and challenge Biden directly for frontrunner status. Bernie is already enjoying the strongest period of his campaign with a slow and steady rise over the past 2 months. And he is certainly emerging as the most trusted candidate on two issues of central importance to primary voters, healthcare and climate. But still, it's not quite enough.

Enter billionaire Bloomberg stage rightwing. Now look, Bloomberg doesn't have a path to be the nominee, but as we've discussed a bit already on the show, he could take a few points from this candidate or from that candidate. The only person who is certain to not be impacted at all is Bernie SandersBernie SandersEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE whose supporters are the most committed and certainly the most billionaire antagonistic.

Already Bloomberg has jumped up to 5% in a pair of new national polls. It's amazing what $37 million in ad buys can get you. No one with literally unlimited funds and a prominent profile should be underestimated.

But maybe even more significant for Bernie is the role that Bloomberg can play as a perfect foil for his campaign. Just think about it.

Bernie has directly declared himself to be on the side of the working class in this nation's ongoing class war and also literally stated that billionaires should not exist. Sure Steyer was already in the race but no one really takes him seriously and his weakness makes it just feel mean to take shots at him. But Bloomberg? Bloomberg is another matter. He's an oligarch and George W. Bush supporter trying to buy this election and it appears that Bernie welcomes his hatred. Just take a listen to him the other night in South Carolina. Bernie has already worked Bloomberg into his routine.

He had previously inveighed against Bloomberg’s arrogance and even accused him of undermining American democracy. Which in a way he really is. Clearly, while Bernie wears kid gloves with Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE and is even fairly muted in his criticism of his "friend" Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine MORE considering some of the things he certainly could say about Biden, he feels no such reservations with the billionaire businessman. Bloomberg is not and will never be Bernie’s "friend." and honestly, Bernie unleashed is the best Bernie. Bloomberg, who is not only a corporatist but also a neocon could not be a more perfect fit for Bernie and his class warfare campaign.

So you've got Biden still holding tight at the top, a new Bloomberg dynamic helping to elevate Bernie and a messy pileup among the wine track candidates of the affluent white liberals, that is essentially neutering that vote, it sure does seem to be shaking out as a contest between Biden and Bernie. A battle of ideology, generation, and values. The grassroots will go toe to toe with the super PACs. May the best candidate for the working class prevail.