This week marks just three months from the much-anticipated Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary which are set to narrow down the record high field of candidates vying for the chance to challenge President Trump in the general election. In our effort to keep you the most informed on everything happening in this heated election cycle, here are some of the most important points developing from the campaign trail this month.

Beto O’Rourke drops out of the race: Texas representative Beto O’Rourke had high hopes going into the 2020 election. After a tight Senate race where O’Rourke fell to incumbent Senator Ted Cruz by only 2.5% in 2018, many Democrats had hoped that Beto could be the new, young charismatic leader to take on Donald Trump in a general election. 

This seemed to work as planned in the forefront of 2019, with O’Rourke showing as a possible challenger to the giants in the race with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. This turned out to be a disappointment for the O’Rourke campaign, as his poll numbers and donation dollars have both steadily declined through the summer and fall, leading Beto to announce the closure of his campaign last Friday in Iowa.

Following O’Rourke’s forfeit, many of his Texas backers have now pivoted to former Obama administration housing and urban development secretary Julian Castro to represent Texas interests. However, Castro’s campaign itself is very close to going under, and could very well be seeing its end in the coming weeks. 

Pete Buttigieg rising in Iowa ahead of caucus: Recent campaigning efforts are paying off for South Bend Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg as he solidified himself as the second-place candidate in Iowa, trailing Elizabeth Warren by only a few points. This rise in popularity is a necessary rebound for the mayor, who had dropped in nationwide polls following his strong entrance to the presidential race. 

As of the most recent RealClearPolitics poll average, Buttigieg still sits as a tier two candidate in New Hampshire, sitting at 8.7%. This separates Buttigieg from the bottom tier of candidates, but leaves a long road ahead for catching up to what has become the solidified top three of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden who are all polling above 20% in New Hampshire

Buttigieg has been a strong hopeful for many young Democrats looking for a more moderate alternative to Joe Biden. Many compare him to an Obama-like figure for Democrats going forward, although this can be a questionable claim.

With massive distance still separating him from the top candidates, it might be all but necessary at this point for Buttigieg to win the Iowa Caucus as a way for him to gain the much-needed momentum needed to give him a fighting chance going into the rest of the democratic primaries.

Sanders slipping in New Hampshire primary: For the first two years of Trump’s presidency, it seemed as if Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden would be the race to decide who would take on Trump in 2020. Despite a large base of support in 2016, Sanders has lost a major sect of his supporters to a fresher, more progressive option in candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has come out as the true frontrunner to challenge Biden for the opportunity to face Trump.

In recent polls in New Hampshire, Warren has come out as a strong favorite, leading both Sanders and Biden by over five points in most polls. This is a massive loss for Sanders, being a longtime senator from Vermont, who overwhelming won New Hampshire in 2016 against Hillary Clinton and carried that momentum to strong showings in other state primaries. 

Losing the New Hampshire primary to Elizabeth Warren could be the beginning of the end for Sanders’ likely last chance at the presidency. This brings into question the semantics of Sanders’ potential drop out of the election. If he decides to drop out early in primary season, he could potentially hand Warren the nomination by shifting his progressive support over to her. 

The stage for the November debate: As of today, 10 candidates have qualified for the November 20th debate set in Georgia. These 10 include the three frontrunners of Biden, Warren and Sanders. They will be joined by Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker and Tom Steyer. 

This is a slightly smaller field than the 12 candidates who participated in the October debate, with Beto O’Rourke having dropped out of the race, and Julian Castro who has yet to qualify for the debate. This debate will be one of the last chances for the underachieving candidates to try to make their case to voters against the frontrunners, and for the frontrunners to attempt to separate themselves from the crowd to contest against Donald Trump.

Written ByBen Mackillop

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