And then there were three…

Democratic presidential candidates Sanders, Clinton and O'Malley react to the crowd before the start of the first official Democratic candidates debate of the 2016 presidential campaign in Las Vegas

Reuters photo

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, former U.S. Secretary of State Billary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (pictured above at last week’s first primary-season debate) are the three remaining candidates for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. While the Democratic presidential field has narrowed, the Repugnican Tea Party presidential field remains a train wreck in which neither of the top-two candidates ever has held elected office. 

So the field of Democratic presidential aspirants has shrunk dramatically since last week’s first Democratic Party presidential primary-season debate.

Out of the running are Jim Webb (he dropped out on Tuesday) and Lincoln Chafee (he dropped out today), who, I easily had predicted while I live-blogged the debate, would drop out soon. And, of course, non-candidate Joe Biden announced the day before yesterday that he indeed is a non-candidate.

As I’ve written, Martin O’Malley appears to intend to hold on for a while longer, to, perhaps, at least get a vice-presidential bid out of it.

So we won’t have Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee to kick around at the second Dem debate, which is on Saturday, November 14, in Des Moines, Iowa. (The full Dem debate schedule is here.)

Billary Clinton’s performance yesterday before her “Benghazigate” inquisitors has been widely portrayed by the media as a win for her. I don’t know that that will increase her poll numbers, however; in fact, I doubt that it will.

As I’ve noted, it seems to me that the vast majority of voters know Billary well already and thus know already whether or not they support her. Therefore, I could have seen her performance yesterday harming her in the polls had she made any great stumble or stumbles, but, as others have noted, all that she really needed to do was not erupt like a volcano. This was the case probably especially in the wake of dipshit Repugnican Tea Party Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s on-air admission that the whole thing is a Repugnican Tea Party political witch hunt in the first place, which we’d all known all along anyway (well, those of us who have a grasp on reality have known all along, anyway).

So, again, I don’t see Billary having survived yesterday’s hearing giving her a significant increase in her polling, as well before yesterday most voters already knew whether or not they’re supporting her.

Again, what I’m waiting for now is to see how the polls shake out in the coming weeks with only Bernie Sanders, Billary Clinton and Martin O’Malley left in the running. Mostly, I’m interested in seeing how Joe Biden no longer being listed as a polling choice affects the polling between top-two contenders Bernie and Billary.

As I’ve noted, for some time now Biden consistently has come in at third place in nationwide presidential preference polls of Democrats and Democratic leaners (and in polls of Iowans and New Hampshirites). While he didn’t have a shot at winning the nomination – which is why, I’m confident, he ultimately decided not to run – at third place he’d been polling around 17 percent nationally (and also around 17 percent in Iowa and around 12 percent in New Hampshire), most of which now will be divvied between Bernie and Billary.

While the Democratic presidential race has settled to two main candidates, the Repugnican Tea Party presidential race remains a train wreck.

Donald Trump, who wasn’t supposed to last this long (he was supposed to be just a summertime fling – remember?), still leads the nationwide presidential-preference polling for his chosen party. Real Clear Politics (as I type this sentence) shows him around 27 percent among Repugnicans and Repugnican leaners, with Ben Carson in second place at 21.4 percent, Marco Rubio a distant third with 9.2 percent, and Ted Cruz at fourth with 7.8 percent.

Jeb! Bush is in fifth place nationally, with 7.2 percent (and reportedly, Jeb! today ordered his campaign to “cut payroll costs by 40 percent, downsize its Miami headquarters by more than 50 percent, reduce travel costs by 20 percent and cut 45 percent of spending on things other than media and voter contact”).

The members of the Repugnican Party establishment must be shitting their pants, with the presidentially unelectable Trump and Carson, who never have held any elected office before, having held on to the top two spots in the nationwide, Iowa and New Hampshire polls for a while now. (Carson now tops Trump in Iowa polling by four points, and Trump trumps Carson by 12 points in New Hampshire.)

Iowans caucus on February 1, and the New Hampshire primary is on February 9, so there are only about 14 weeks left before Iowa weighs in. Can the struggling campaigns of Jeb! Bush and Ted Cruz hold on that long? Maybe Cruz’s campaign can – I understand that he’s doing OK on money – but can Jeb!’s?

My money still is on Marco Rubio emerging as the 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate – a candidate who is acceptable enough to both the establishmentarian Repugnicans and the “tea-party” nut jobs – but again, we have only 14 weeks to go, and Rubio’s nationwide polling – and his polling in Iowa and in New Hampshire – aren’t even at double digits, and Trump and Carson show no signs of slipping from their top-two perches. So if it’s going to be Rubio, the party’s establishmentarians have a lot of work to do over the next three months.

In the meantime, I still support Bernie Sanders, as I believe he’d be the best (that is, the most progressive) president of all of the viable presidential candidates.

The prediction markets favor Billary, the corporate punditry’s choice, over Bernie, but I stand behind Bernie, win or lose.

Minimally, Bernie’s candidacy has shifted the Democratic Party to the left, where it belongs.

Not that that would last all that long at all with a President Billary.

It was just on September 10 that Billary declared while campaigning in Ohio: “You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty.”

During the October 13 Democratic debate, Billary claimed, “I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”

I have little doubt that as far to the left Bernie could push Billary’s current campaign rhetoric, as president she’d actually deliver to us the same old corporate-ass-kissing, center-right bullshit that her husband did in the 1990s.

If Billary wins the White House – which, yes, I could see her losing to Marco Rubio (current polling match-ups have Clinton leading Rubio by not even two percentage points) – the best that we could say of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, hopefully (even if he wins the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination but loses the White House), would be that he was to the Democratic Party in 2016 what Barry Goldwater was to the Republican Party in 1964: He set the stage for his party’s later resurgence.

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