Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates

Opinion by: Krystal Ball

Well Kamala is officially out leaving only 7 candidates remaining on the December debate stage. A lot of folks are upset that those 7 candidates are all white fair enough. I know we'd all love to see trailblazing candidates Andrew YangAndrew YangDoctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls Buttigieg launches his own podcast MORE and Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardRepublicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates Gabbard says she 'was not invited to participate in any way' in Democratic convention MORE up there as well. Don't worry they are only 1 poll short!

So apparently Christmas has come early because this week alone we've had three neoliberals crash out of the 2020 race. I must have been a very good girl this year. Joe Sestak...Joe! We barely knew ya! Steve BullockSteve BullockMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Pence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race MORE and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice First presidential debate to cover coronavirus, Supreme Court Harris joins women's voter mobilization event also featuring Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda MORE. Bullock entered late and shockingly his completely anodyne, John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE but with less spunk approach never really caught on. Kamala really didn't know who or what she wanted to be and was already floundering when Tulsi ended her campaign for good. They join Beto, Eric, Hick, Jay, Seth, Bill, Kirsten, and Tim. So many boring bad candidates running for no discernible reason. I do exclude Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBarr asked prosecutors to explore charging Seattle mayor over protest zone: report Bottom line Oregon senator says Trump's blame on 'forest management' for wildfires is 'just a big and devastating lie' MORE from that snark who elevated a genuinely important issue in climate change.

Kamala's exit though signals that things are really starting to get real in the Democratic primary. We are now only 61 days from the Iowa caucuses and candidates are running out of chances to have their viral moment and go ahead and surge to the top. What's more, Biden and Bernie’s coalitions are seeming increasingly impregnable. So who will be next to throw in the towel? Maybe go home for the Christmas break, do a little bit of soul searching, and decide that they've had it with poorly attended town halls, begging rich people for a lifeline, and trying to convince the media that they are really the next Obama, not Mayor Pete.

Well, a tell came yesterday from Julian CastroJulian CastroSanders says Democrats should have given more speaking time to progressives Castro says DNC should have put more Latino speakers on stage from beginning Jill Biden defends husband's cognitive ability from Trump attacks: 'It's ridiculous' MORE. Castro has the less than notable distinction of having served as Obama’s HUD secretary during the time that bankers were being bailed out and homeowners were being screwed. Honestly, though, I kind of liked having him on the debate stage where he was willing to be a little meaner than the other candidates. He went after Beto on immigration and Biden on his mental acuity. It was good times. Anyway, the desperation is apparently starting to get to him. He sent a fundraising email to his supporters lamenting the fact that Tulsi Gabbard was outperforming him first crying that she had made it to the 200,000 donor threshold first and then complaining about her performance at the last debate saying:

"She spent her time trying to pide us instead of trying to unite us!" I've been told that pide roughly translates into please god let this desperate attack work. Ironic that a candidate so concerned about unity would send out a fundraising appeal explicitly attacking another candidate but I suppose attacking Tulsi is just such a creative and never before tried approach that he just had to give it a go. I'd say Julian’s out by the new year.

Guy who you forgot is still in the race Michael Bennett seems nowhere near qualifying for a debate or cracking 1% in any poll so I wouldn't expect him to be long for this campaign. Not that it really matters much either way.

Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility MORE is an interesting case. Every debate he seems to dominate speaking time and he scores well on the traditional metrics of political performance. He's confident, delivers a good one-liner, quick on his feet. I was told repeatedly early on that he had built a very effective campaign operation with quality staffers and relationships on the ground in early states, but all of it has pretty much amounted to nothing. It's come to this, the swaggering mayor who once rescued a resident from a burning building having to beg voters to help him get to the next debate stage.

So far voters have not been moved by Cory's plea. Verbal acuity and resume are a poor substitute for vision and authenticity. I imagine funds are running short and the upcoming Senate impeachment trial may give him the perfect excuse to leave the trail before the full depth of his failure is truly exposed.

John Delaney is rich so he may stick around but again it doesn't matter.

That brings us to Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSocial media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates MORE. Now if there is one person the media is dying to make happen, it's Amy Klobuchar. Some of you may remember the face that the mere mention of her name causes me to make.

She's got a famously shaky bang and a litany of painful mom jokes but surprise surprise haltingly delivered standard centrism just doesn't seem to be landing with the voters. Weird. Amy has made the stage for December so she's going to give it one last shot. And she has a much smaller organization to float than Kamala did so that will help her stretch out what must be meager resources at this point. Hard to say whether or not she makes it to Iowa.

At this point though, it's pretty simple to see the dividing line between the candidates who have caught on and at least inspired excitement, and those who just haven't. It's basic really, just stand for something. Stand for something popular ideally. But barring for that, stand for something unpopular. I promise it will still go better than failing to stand for anything at all.

Just consider, the same week that Kamala Harris dropped out claiming lack of resources, Andrew Yang announced that he had just broken a one-day fundraising record, hitting $750,000 in one day and 2 million dollars in one week. He didn't do it by whining that not enough people were giving him money, he did it by offering a vision that is yes controversial and frankly to many it seems bizarre to many although I believe it has merit, but he has never backed off or said he misheard the question or introduced a "transition plan" that called the whole thing into question.

The chive people are complaining bitterly that she was treated unfairly by the media. Of course, they have incredibly short memories given the glowing coverage she received in the early months. But just look at the amount that Tulsi Gabbard has been able to overcome. She was called a Russian asset and accused of looking like a cult leader because of her pantsuit. But all the while she has never wavered from a strong anti-regime change view that had moved her ahead of Kamala in the polls and garnered her a legion of devoted supporters.

And then there are frontrunners Bernie and Biden. For better or worse, you know exactly what they represent. They aren't afraid to argue for their views. And as I argued yesterday, their clear stances at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum are exactly why the race is coming down to a battle between these two men.

So Kamala’s news was the real shocker this week but don't be surprised if she's but the first major candidate of a December drop out craze. Prepare for a holiday season of neoliberal tears.