Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardDemocrats set early state primary debates for 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Gabbard news items generating more social interactions than other 2020 Democrats: study MORE (D-Hawaii) and businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangAmerica's real 'freedom dividend': Hard work and pro-business policies The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate Booker says he will not make December debate stage MORE are outpolling some better-known Washington insiders, highlighting the ongoing desire for outsider and insurgent candidates in national politics.

The past two surveys of New Hampshire show Gabbard and Yang catching, and in some cases surpassing, bigger names such as Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate New poll finds Sanders surging to within 7 points of Biden in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate Booker cancels NH activities, campaign says he has the flu Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Wisconsin: poll MORE (D-N.J.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Booker says he will not make December debate stage Yang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment MORE (D-Minn.).

Democrats are taking notice and beginning to whisper about how Gabbard and Yang — who are combining to pull 10 percent support in New Hampshire — could play spoiler for one or more of the top-tier candidates in the Granite State.

ADVERTISEMENT

Polls show former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Media organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Krystal Ball rips Warren's 'passive-aggressive' swipes at rivals MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Reject National Defense Authorization Act, save Yemen instead MORE (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Krystal Ball rips Warren's 'passive-aggressive' swipes at rivals Buttigieg: I share a lot of the same values as people protesting my fundraisers MORE firmly in the top tier and fighting for position in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Democrats are doubtful that Gabbard or Yang can rise high enough to challenge them, although both candidates continue to surprise.

But the New Hampshire primary will feature big turnout from independents, and the state allows undeclared voters and Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary.

New Hampshire is known for its fierce independent streak, potentially presenting a new challenge for Sanders in his quest to lock down support from the independents and young voters who are giving Yang a look.

It could also cut into votes for Biden, who will need to perform well among moderate and conservative Democrats, some of whom are at least considering Gabbard.

“It just adds to the unpredictable nature of the primary here,” said one unaffiliated New Hampshire Democratic strategist.

Yang is at 5 percent support in the latest CNN-University of New Hampshire survey, tied with Klobuchar, and outpolling Harris and Booker. He is at 4 percent in the new Quinnipiac University survey of New Hampshire, topping Klobuchar, Harris and Booker.

The tech entrepreneur has ties to New Hampshire, having attended the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy, and Democrats in the state say there’s a high level of enthusiasm for him, particularly among young people.

The Quinnipiac survey finds Yang polling at 12 percent support among voters aged 18 to 34 in New Hampshire, a key demographic for the Sanders campaign.

Yang has been riding a wave of viral online enthusiasm and intrigue about his policy proposals — such as a universal basic income — to become one of the biggest surprises of the cycle.

Yang has already surpassed the fundraising threshold to qualify for the December debate; the $10 million he raised in the third quarter placed him sixth overall and only slightly behind Harris, who raised $11.6 million.

He has so far reached the polling threshold in two of the four surveys needed to make the cut for the December debate.

“Andrew Yang is going to be on that stage come December,” said campaign manager Zach Graumann. “As more voters hear Andrew’s message of humanity first economy, our support is only going to grow in the polls.”

Gabbard, meanwhile, has left her mark in New Hampshire on the side of the highways, reserving billboards across the state that have caught the attention of political watchers.

“I was in New Hampshire in early September and it seemed like there was a Gabbard billboard on every road I was driving on,” said Bob Mulholland, a Democratic National Committee member from California.

The Hawaii Democrat has become a pariah in some mainstream Democratic circles, with the party's 2016 nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMore than 200,000 Wisconsin voters will be removed from the rolls Trump is threatening to boycott the debates — here's how to make sure he shows up Trey Gowdy returns to Fox News as contributor MORE calling her the “favorite of the Russians” and accusing Gabbard of plotting a third party bid that will throw the election to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE.

Gabbard, who is not running for reelection to her House seat, insists that she will not launch an independent or third-party bid.

But the attention from the Clinton spat has raised Gabbard’s profile, propelling her to 6 percent support in the latest Quinnipiac survey of New Hampshire, her best showing in any poll to date.

“She’ll do what she believes is right no matter the consequences inside of her own party, and voters in New Hampshire respond to that,” said Mark Bergman, a senior adviser to Gabbard’s campaign. “There’s an independent streak in New Hampshire and they reward candidates who speak truth to power.”

The Quinnipiac poll also found Gabbard pulling 10 percent support among registered independents, another potential problem spot for Sanders, who won New Hampshire easily in 2016 but faces an uphill battle this time around in the crowded field of candidates.

“Those with Yang and to some extent Gabbard have the most messaging overlap with Bernie,” said Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist. “If I were him, I’d be looking over my shoulder at both of those two in New Hampshire.”

Gabbard, a military veteran, also pulls 9 percent support from self-described conservative or moderate Democrats, potentially cutting into support for Biden and Buttigieg, who are fighting for votes in the centrist lane of the primary.

Of course, Democrats admit they have no idea whether Yang and Gabbard supporters will still be with them when ballots are cast in New Hampshire on Feb. 11, or how big of an impact they’ll ultimately have on the outcome in the Granite State.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s possible that support will flow away from Gabbard and Yang toward one of the top finishers in Iowa after the Feb. 3 caucuses.

But regardless, the outsiders have left their mark on the primary in distinct ways that reflect the insurgent energy that has been rippling through the party since Sanders’s surprising challenge to Clinton in 2016.

At last month’s debate in Ohio, Yang commanded attention, sparring one-on-one with Warren over the impacts of automation in the workforce. Several Democratic White House hopefuls at that debate also pointed to Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” as an innovative proposal.

And some believe that Gabbard’s direct challenge to Harris at the second debate in Detroit may have contributed to the California senator’s decline. Harris had been having a moment, but her campaign deflated after Gabbard accused her of abusing the office of attorney general in California.

At the time, Harris said that as a “top tier candidate” she was not worried about attacks from someone polling at “zero or 1 percent.” Now Gabbard has caught or surpassed Harris in some polls.

“There’s definitely an appetite for anti-establishment or outsider candidates,” said Reinish. “New Hampshire is very unique in that regard and the anti-establishment sentiment runs strong there. Sanders and Warren are still very much able to tap into that, while others, like Harris, Klobuchar and Booker, are going to have a harder time.”