Politics Live with The Fix: What can we expect from the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday?

Feb 27, 2020

Got a burning politics question, or just something you’re curious about? Each week, starting Thursday at noon, The Fix team chats with readers about the big stories in politics.

If you’re a longtime fan of the Ask Amber and Ask Aaron chats, we’re glad you’re back for the new and expanded chat. If you’re new, thanks for checking us out.

There’s a lot going on this week: It’s the most crucial one of the 2020 race so far, with the South Carolina primary this weekend and Super Tuesday after that. If you aren’t sure what all Super Tuesday entails, Amber Phillips has you covered

Bernie Sanders has pulled ahead in the race, which means he got a rough treatment at Tuesday’s debate, and a lot of what he’s said before is getting a fresh look. JM Rieger spent a lot of the week digging through what Sanders has said about authoritarian regimes, and how he’s trying to downplay that now.

Coronavirus is spreading globally, which has meant an intense focus this week on how the Trump administration and the government will handle it. Aaron Blake has been watching what Trump is saying about it (the president thinks he’s doing great). 

Eugene Scott is out today, so Fix editor Natalie Jennings will jump in here for a few questions. And, programming note: Next week’s chat will be at noon on Wednesday, fresh off Super Tuesday results, when we’ll know a lot more about the state of the race. 

What would make each of the Democratic presidential candidates drop out in terms of results from next week? Warren losing MA and Klobuchar losing MN would seem to be the end of their campaigns but who knows.

Agree on that ^.  And if Amy Klobuchar is in the bottom four of all states besides her home state, well, I could see that pushing her to drop out.

Or not. Sen. Warren just said she'll go all the way to the convention with her delegates, even if she's not getting a majority. 

Which is to say I see absolutely no relenting in this Democratic primary right now, even as their own fears grow Sanders will be the nominee*. Andrew Yang put those fears to words succinctly recently: "Somebody needs to do an Andrew Yang."

*In a typo, I accidentally said "fears grow Sanders will drop out," which is not what I meant to say! 

Just voted early. I'm a moderate Democrat (it annoys me that people assume moderates like me don't like Sanders because we think he won't win. I don't like Sanders because I don't agree with his policies). I have been going back and forth on which moderate to vote for. I'm a middle-aged suburban woman. I like Klobuchar the best and was planning on voting for her, but I just don't see how she can win. I thought Buttigieg was articulate but I was turned off by his treatment of Klobuchar during the debate before Nevada. He just seemed like "that guy" in the office. I think Warren is really smart, but she seems all over the place. Is she a Bernie? Is she moderate? I'm not sure what I'm voting for. For me that left Bloomberg and Biden. I initially thought I was going to vote for Bloomberg. I like his policies. Climate change and gun reform are really important to me. I think he can win over moderate Republicans. But seeing his debate, he has the personality of a potato even though I liked the substance of policy questions (education, climate change, etc). So.. I voted for Biden. I think he did well in the debate in SC. I actually didn't think I would vote for him. I think he said something like, progress is building on what you have. In the end, I just remember the comfort and optimism I felt during Obama administration and I just wanted a candidate that was an old school, reliable Democrat.

"In the end, I just remember the comfort and optimism I felt during Obama administration and I just wanted a candidate that was an old school, reliable Democrat."

 

Thanks for sharing. To me, your story underscores that each voters' reasoning is s so so so personal to them. What is "electability" and what qualities in a candidate make that person the best to go up against Trump? It's entirely subjective. 

Your question does also point to something that could have a practical effect. There are still  a lot of undecided voters, and a lot of momentum swings in a still-pretty-big field. Who is on their game and instilling confidence when people who are on the fence go to vote matters. And there's  a ton of momentum to be had for Biden or whoever nabs it over the next week. 

Sen. Sanders and other Democratic candidates cite head-to-head polls where they win in a match-up against President Trump. Are these polls as useful as candidates would like us to believe?

It's better to focus on such polls in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, because those states will most likely determine things. Unfortunately, we don't see many polls in those states, so we have to rely on the national ones.

Also, keep in mind lots will change by election day. It's probably a more useful metric when comparing the Democratic candidates than anything else.

I am voter think "who should win" and you guys seem more obsessed with "who will win" and that doesn't really help me make a decision. I get most people already have made a choice (although less and less these days) and horserace stuff is just part of it, but it does seem to dominate a lot?

"Who should win" is not our job here at The Fix. We're analysts, not opinion columnists.

That means we analyze how well (or not well) things go for various politicians and political parties, but we don't do it based on our opinions of  those politicians.

Do you think anyone will drop out Sunday or Monday, after SC? I sure would like to have fewer choices on Tuesday!

I think it's there will be big pressure on Klobuchar to get out if Biden wins South Carolina, because he'll have much more of a path forward, and they have similar bases of support. I feel like there is less of a chance Buttigieg would drop out, given he won the delegates in Iowa and has raised good money.

Would it be possible to install a "Mute" button for those who go over?

I'm all for cutting off the mics! It should be a last resort, but when you tell them they're done and they keep talking for 10 seconds, that's not really fair.

For those of us residing in the Acela Primary states, I worry that my vote in the Democratic primary might wind up being a moot point, because the nominee will be (all but) decided already. Agree?

While many of the east coast states vote later in the Democratic primary, it is worth remembering that Hillary Clinton did not clinch the 2016 Democratic primary until June.

Additionally, with so many candidates still in the race and little incentive for candidates to drop out, there is an increasing chance that no candidate will clinch the nomination with a majority of pledged delegates. This could mean a contested convention, at which point even small pledged delegate totals for each candidate could become significant.

The Post built out a simulator to explore the various scenarios that could play out over the next few weeks.

We meaning me. I'm an older, white, Jewish woman. If Bernie's the nominee, I'll vote for him because I have to. But I firmly believe the country will be in almost as bad shape if he's President. Maybe he gets a Congress that will stand up to him and he won't be so bad. Maybe not. But in demeanor and disclosure, he's Trump of the left.

Hi, voter who personifies the Democratic Party conundrum right now!

Here's more on how a number of congressional Democrats feel about the prospect of a Sanders nomination. In short, they're worried like you what having a  nominee who embraced Medicare-for-all will do for their own battles.

Two of the major Democratic candidates are Jews. But there hasn’t been much reporting on how that may affect their electability. My guess is that many voters don’t know yet that Sanders is Jewish, due to his non-ethnic last name and Vermont being his state. My other guess is that the alt-right will attempt to make an issue out of religion if either he or Bloomberg is the Democratic nominee. Your thoughts?

Here's where I miss Eugene, who's on a much-deserved day off. I'll do my best to channel him though. two things:
1. It will be a bigger deal and you'll hear more about the historic nature of that once there is an actual nominee if that is one of the two Jewish candidates you mention. Sanders, I will note, has talked  lot about how his heritage impacted him but also would be historic in that he's described himself as not actively involved in religion.  
2. Of course, candidates with a background that is something other than white, straight male, and Christian will probably be the target of some bad actors.  

Does the WP have plans for how it is going to conduct itself in post-democracy America? With the executive branch absorbing the judiciary branch, that day cannot be far off.

As our editor-in-chief Marty Baron likes to say, "We're not at war, we're at work." And work means telling the truth the best we can ascertain it. 

If these folks drop out, do Warren voters go to Sanders, and the other two groups to Buttigieg? Have there been any opinion polls on this? Thanks!

There are lots of second-choice polls. Basically, Sanders and Warren supports strongly overlap, so Warren dropping out would benefit Sanders. There is also lots of overlap between Biden and Klobuchar, Buttigieg inhabits the middle between those two sides, so it's not as clear where his supporters would go. 

Here's a good visual on this.

Do you think Klobuchar, Warren and Buttigieg are going to hang in as long as possible in order to be considered for VP?

I'm not sure hanging out two extra weeks would make a big difference, to be honest -- especially if they are just going to get clobbered.

This seems like a dumb question for you since journalists are always going to back up other journalists, but this isn't a general election or open to all members of the public, it's a party primary so if we are going to have debates, why not let the moderators being be party activists or somebody of that ilk? I mean this for any party, Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, etc...

I wouldn't say "always." But I do think the value in having journalists moderate debates is we get tough questions that party activists might not ask. And those journalists are certainly in tune with the intraparty dynamics when they're crafting those questions. 

I think the electability issue isn't the right question for evaluating Sanders, Biden, Bloomberg, etc. The real question is -- who has coattails long enough to make Mitch McConnell the minority leader in the Senate? Democrats need a net gain 3 seats + VP to control the Senate. Doug Jones is going to lose. The three best shots are Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina. But does Bernie or someone else give Democrats the best chance to win Senate races in Iowa, Maine, either Georgia race, Montana? Something tells me there aren't enough liberals just waiting to feel the Bern to both compensate for the loss of moderates and get to 50+1.

This is what party leaders are sweating right now. Pete Buttigieg sounded the warning bell in the debate this week, but of course he's got incentive to do so.  And Jim Clyburn nodded at that in his Biden endorsement.

Nancy Pelosi says she'll embrace whoever the nominee is, but I think after Super Tuesday if Sanders is still in strong position we are going to be talking a lot more about what will happen down ballot and we'll have something to judge that on, since Arizona and North Carolina are voting then. 

Even as Pelosi sounds a call for unity, The Post's Mike DeBonis reports that colleagues around her, especially in swing states, are completely wrecked by the idea of Sanders as their nominee. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) warned Sanders's defense of aspects of Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba could put delegates in Florida and congressional seats at risk. But it's not just Florida, she said: "I think we're all at risk with Bernie."

"even as their own fears grow Sanders will drop out" It doesn't make sense in context.

Total typo on my part. It's been corrected. "Even as their own fears grow Sanders WILL GET THE NOMINATION." 

Dear Fix Team, Surely Bernie Sanders knows that if he's elected, if the Dems hold the House, and even if they take the Senate with (at most!) a one or two vote majority, that Medicare-for-All, free college tuition, etc. will never pass the Senate even with a Democratic majority. Why is he still stubbornly resisting explaining what he would do then as President? His Plan A--his revolution--will never pass in the near future, so why is he so resistant to have a Plan B? And surely if he's the nominee it's a safe bet that ALL Dems will vote for him, since we all know his Revolution will never happen.

This is an argument some Democrats have made in recent days: Any candidate is better than President Trump and much of Sanders's agenda would require a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Even if Democrats were to eliminate the filibuster altogether (if they retook the Senate majority), the majority of Senate Democrats do not yet support Medicare-for-all. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even acknowledged recently that Sanders's health care push could result in a public option rather than Medicare-for-all.

To be sure, there are likely some actions Sanders could take via executive actions to implement some of his agenda and to reverse actions Trump has taken on health care, immigration and climate change.

Some Democrats are warning they could lose the House if Sanders is the nominee. Which bolsters your point that him having a Plan B for Medicare-for-All would be a good idea.

And yet, Sanders has made his name by speaking with a passion and obsession for decades about this, without any relent. And when Ocasio-Cortez said that there could be compromise on his health care plan, Sen. Warren used that against him in a debate, to try to say that Sanders's own camp doesn't really think this will get done and they're not willing to admit it. 

I honestly don't get why she isn't doing better. As a supporter of hers, I'm biased, but I thought she killed at the last two debates and especially distinguished herself at the last one as the only person up there who gave calm, detailed responses that actually answered the questions. I don't think she should have gone after Bloomberg on the NDAs again - - you got that out there, move on - - but otherwise she was very good. I thought especially that her answer comparing and contrasting herself to Bernie would be effective at pulling in progressives not in love with Bernie and those who think the others are just too centrists. Why can't she get traction? And how much of it is because she's a woman?

I've been seeing a TON of this in recent days, and I tend to agree that she's been better at debates and on the stump than her vote totals have suggested. Here's my theory on this: She was never going to be the first choice for the most liberal voters, because of Sanders, and she's been a little uncertain about what her candidacy was about. She has moderated to some degree on stuff like Medicare for All and flirted with being the "electability" candidate, but that wasn't a neat fit, either. I think in race without Sanders, she'd be competing, but he has just monopolized that lane.

I'm going to vote absentee in VA Saturday because I will be out of town on Tuesday. I was truly inspired by one candidate (think NH debate) and had leaned towards voting for that candidate. Out of the field, his/her credentials stand out to me and I think that candidate would easily make the best president. Yet, I am likely to vote for a candidate who I think probably should not be president at this point in life simply because I see no way of otherwise assuring that my vote will go to a candidate who clears 15% and takes delegates away from someone who I think would be destructive if nominated. My question is, do you have a bar of soap that I can use if I don't vote for one of the two ways my conscience is pulling me? I think I will need it either way.

Haha. Look, you are entitled to your practical concerns. Some people will vote for their ideal no matter what; others will vote for the most acceptable candidate who they think has a chance. That doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong either way. It's democracy!

How does a big Biden win in SC (15+ points) effect the narrative going into Super Tuesday? Does he get a comeback narrative that could vault him into Tuesday or will the prevailing narrative be "too little, too late"?

I'm SUPER glad you asked. Here are my just-posted thoughts!

If the President doesn't mess up, interfere, or politicize the virus response, and it works out (without a major spread), how much will that benefit him in Nov?

I think the downsides are much bigger than the upsides for this president, for any president, when dealing with a natural disaster or global health scare.

If it's handled well and the virus is relatively contained, then it's sorta what you'd expect from government. They met the bar, no big bonus for them. (Though there is evidence Trump will try to take credit in such a situation.)

If it's not handled well, then politicians really take the heat.

So what can the Trump administration do to keep us safe, and how is his response so far matching up to that? I wrote about that here yesterday. 

Trump has waged war on science and the media, even ‘corrected’ the National Weather Service, and now he now want us to have faith in his administration's claims, some already contradicted, about a potentially disastrous epidemic? Is anyone other than Pelosi and Schumer going to call foul on this?

Sure, plenty of people will. But your point about crying wolf is important. Amber spoke to a bunch of pandemic experts yesterday and they walked her through a few steps of effective government disaster response. The toughest of those is getting people to follow guidance if extreme measures need to be taken. That requires  a reservoir of trust that the government is looking out for you, and it's hard to accrue that in the best of times. 

Which argument do you think will win out in the end? Plurality going into the convention automatically means nomination or super delegates could help choose someone other than the person with the plurality.

I think this is a fun debate, but if there is anything amounting to a clear delegate lead and it's Sanders, I don't know how the convention takes the nomination from him. It would cause a major rift in the party, and the delegates will recognize that. Unless Sanders is trailing Trump by double digits by that point, I don't know how you'd ever pull that off without creating bigger problems than it would be worth.

Are Senator Sanders and Mike Bloomberg members of the Democratic Party? I ask because it is odd that someone who has never been a party member except when he wanted to run for President (Sanders) and someone who has been a Republican and Independent (Bloomberg) want the party's nomination.

It is an unusual set up! Sanders still isn't a Democrat. Bloomberg became one in 2018. The president has been pretty much everything and effectively hijacked the Republican Party.

It's almost like people use political parties out of convenience. Almost.

I keep thinking about which candidate will cause more people to sit home in Nov. Will Bernie fans vote for Biden? Will non-white people sit out if Bloomberg is the nominee? Will moderates vote for Trump over Sanders? Which constituency/ies can the Democratic party afford to lose?

I think the biggest dropoff might be Bernie supporters who wouldn't vote for Bloomberg, but that's just pure speculation.

Do you know what polls are showing in these states? With the size and racial range of these states, I'm thinking they might be more indicative of who the Dems nationwide want. What do you think?

Bernie Sanders leads the Democratic field by double-digits in two recent California polls by PPIC and Monmouth University.

In Texas, the race is closer. Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden are in a statistical tie, according to two recent polls by the University of Houston and the University of Texas/Texas Tribune.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is in third in both of those Texas polls and she is essentially tied with former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg in California.

This is part of the reason South Carolina is so crucial for the Democratic race: If Biden has a significant victory there on Saturday, it could position him as the alternative to Sanders.

An NBC News-Marist poll last week put Biden ahead of Sanders by four points, but a Monmouth poll released this week has Biden up double-digits on Sanders.

Why doesn't Bernie just stop talking in glowing terms about Cuba?

He's been talking about it for decades.

I think it speaks to Sanders's political nature that he refuses to back down in what he believes in. To his campaign, that's an asset. To a sizable chunk of the Democratic Party, that's a huge problem if he's the nominee.

While it seems unlikely that he will secure the nomination (and many democrats also see it as undesirable), I see his value to the race being that his ads have the potential of chipping some of Trump's base away, making it easier for whoever wins the nomination to win the White house. Am I wrong?

I had questions when he entered the race about whether he felt he was a contender or just wanted to do something to impact the race, but it's become clear to me that at least his goal is really to win this thing. And his rivals sure don't seem to think he's doing the party a favor. 

Anecdotally, I've had a lot of Republican or independent acquaintances express interest in Bloomberg as a Trump alternative. It's hard to see that benefit accruing to a nominee from Democrats' left flank. 

What is her game plan? She has amassed no discernible support in the race. She only seems to appear on Fox network programs. Does she still hold campaign events?

Just checked: She has been holding campaign events, in South Carolina and Super Tuesday states like Virginia and Utah. 

What's her game plan? I have no idea. I would imagine that like many of the other candidates, as long as she has enough money, she'll run. Even being a fringe presidential candidate is a prominent stage to talk about your ideas.

Bernie was booed 3 times during the debate and looked a bit shocked. Do you think he interprets his front runner status as more widespread than it is?

He's skated by in these debates, taking some heat for Medicare-for-all, then fading into the background. That didn't happen this time. It was interesting to see how he reacted to the sustained criticism. I think he was a little surprised by the booing, and he also was as combative as ever but did not go out of his way to talk about details of his plans that still remain in question, like exactly how much they'd cost.

As the Post noted...at the debate Bloomberg almost said that he bought the 2018 election for Democrats. How does this play with those who are turned off by money in politics?

Not well. But they were probably already turned off by him, since the way he is wielding his money  to push his message via ads and staff is what got him into the conversation in the first place. 

Maybe it wasn't worded that well, but informing me as a voter on making my choice with relevant facts on a candidate's record or proposals isn't "an opinion" and isn't the same as "who is up and who is down" and "how will this move play with group X or group Y" stuff isn't that helpful to informing me for election day?

I think what you're looking for is: "If you want to beat Trump in November, vote for x." I can't tell you that, because anyone who says they know the answer doesn't.

A career as a commentator on cable TV news, obviously.

a la Andrew Yang, who dropped out after New Hampshire and signed with CNN days-ish later.

4 years ago everyone in GOP establishment freaked out about Trump because they thought he was way outside the mainstream and would drag the House down with him. Obviously none of that came to pass. Now the same accusations are being made about Bernie. Is there reason to believe that Bernie is fundamentally different from Trump and we will likely not see the same outcome as '16?

This is one of the arguments that Sanders and his campaign have made for his candidacy: He is the candidate with the broadest coalition and that can turn out voters, including new voters, in 2020.

So far, Sanders claim about turning out new voters has not happened, as the New York Times analyzed this week. Turnout is higher than in 2016 but lower than in the 2008 Democratic primary contests.

Whether this trend changes come November is another question. Democratic primary voters have repeatedly said they want a candidate who can beat President Trump. But who Democratic voters think that candidate is has shifted over time.

Jim Clyburn says that he's known for a while that he would endorse Biden so why did he wait so long to do it?

Spoiler: Politicians time their endorsements for maximum impact. It's in both their own interest and that of the candidate.

Seems like Biden's been damaged just like Trump wanted with the help of GOP members in the House, GOP Senators, Fox & other rightwing state media outlets. Has the Senate done anything about subpoenaing Joe & Hunter Biden to testify to complete their sabotage of Biden's candidacy?

I can't say for sure whether or how impeachment hurt Biden, but I can say I talked to at least one voter in New Hampshire who said he wouldn't be voting for Biden because of all that "baggage." (There's no evidence Biden did anything wrong in Ukraine.)

Senate Republicans were initially bullish on trying to hold hearings, but it seems like Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has backed off and handed it over to the Justice Department, where there's an intake process set up for Rudy Giuliani's allegations that, this time, he found something. 

Assuming he is neither the Presidential or Vice-Presidential nominee (which seems plausible), where does he go from here? Does he return to South Bend to be mayor again? He seems to have amassed a substantial national fundraising and cheer-leading following, but Indiana is a horrible state for any Democrat to succeed in electorally.

Well he just concluded his tenure as mayor. It's a good question. There isn't an obvious answer.

Generally its easier to become governor than senator as a Democrat in a red state, but Indiana has its governor races in presidential years, which makes that more difficult.

He's in Indiana's 2nd district, which has been competitive at times but went for both Romney and Trump by double digits.

I think the best option would be a Cabinet official, but that requires there being a Democratic president.

Why is the South Carolina primary so important? The other three early states (IA, NH and NV) are at least swing states while a Democrat hasn't won SC since 1976.

Yoou're right that swinginess is not the point in South Carolina. It is traditionally super important though as a bellwether given the majority of Democrats there are black. 

It's hard to overstate how important black voters are to the Democratic party. They are probably its most influential and loyal bloc. The three previous states have relatively small black populations and you can't get any sort of gauge on what the Democratic mood is broadly without hearing from black voters. 

I'll never understand the "Bernie isn't a Democrat" types. He caucuses with them is a member of the Senate Democratic Leadership, and he knows that running as an Independent guarantees Trump. This is just a dishonest smear all the way around, but I see it everyday. As for Superdelegates, wasn't he just making the case that just the states that he won should have their superdelegates vote for him? And as for everyone saying "Sanders wrote the rules" for this year's primary, any truth to that?

1. I think the party registration only matters to very-online people and those who weren't going to be Sanders voters in the first place.

2. Sanders certainly had a big voice in the new rules, given the hard feelings there were about how 2016 panned out. Whether he actually "wrote the rules?" That's a stretch.

This is why lots of us moderate Dems are so steamed with Bernie. He's the angry old man that yells at kids to get off his grass. His policies don't stand a snowball's chance in Hades. And if he doesn't get the nomination he will take his bat/ball and refuse to play. He wrecked the 2016 election and is trying to wreck 2020 because he is convinced he is right and won't admit he could be wrong in some of his policies.

A lot of the questions I've fielded today have touched on what you're getting at, Sanders's character. Why won't he back down from Castro praises when it's troublesome for some in his party, why won't he have a Plan B for Medicare-for-all.

That suggests to me that Buttigieg's attacks in particular on Sanders, accusing him of not being a team player and not "giving a damn" about the rest of the party, may resonate. 

This week, I put together a guide and analysis of how Sanders's Democratic primary challengers are going after him and whether I think it will work. 

My 22 year old niece supports Sanders - says we need a radical left to fight a radical right. But I don't think that's where the majority of Dems are; I think by nature, most Dems are more kind and gracious and kumbaya. That's why Reagan attracted them. We don't want our own form of nasty.

Four years later, the Democratic Party is still debating whether to, as Michelle Obama said, "go high" when they go low, or fight fire with fire (more the Warren/Sanders preferred tactic). 

Why is Warren the only one out there saying she'd get rid of the filibuster? I get why it was initially put in place, but those days are long gone.

Even if Democrats want to do this, I'm not sure it's the best timing to send that signal when the GOP still has the Senate -- and probably will after the election. 

African Americans who are interviewed are saying that it's important to note that they are not a monolithic group. Black conservatives have different views from Black liberals and young African Americans often have different views from their elders. Do you think the press acknowledges this enough?

Probably not. One major reason for this is that the earliest primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire), get a giant share of coverage but have relatively few black voters. This weekend in SC is the first time we'll have entrance polls from a state with a really big share of black voters.  What I'll really be looking for is that generational divide you mention. Is there a big dropoff in say, Biden's support between old and young voters? Does Sanders carry them like he does young voters nationally? 

What does it matter about "trust" in Donald Trump? We knew the hurricane sharpie map was faked. The whole point of the sharpie map was because we knew the actual pathway of Hurricane Dorian.

With regard to the coronavirus, health experts I spoke to yesterday said that public trust in government is absolutely critical. If you're asked to stay at home, or have your kid's school closed, you want to know it's for a sound reason. 

The Trump White House is starting at a deficit here. A November Post-ABC poll found that just 31 percent of Americans say he is honest and trustworthy. 

There a mini kerfuffle about Congresswoman Gabbard awhile back, but is anybody running third party? Jill Stein? Gary Johnson? Evan MacMullen? The new Jill Stein? The new Gary Johnson? The new Evan MacMullen?

There haven't been any really big names to emerge thus far. About the only one I can see that might change the race's fundamentals would be Gabbard going third-party or Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) getting the Libertarian nomination.

I just read that the Trump administration fired the U.S. pandemic response team in 2018. What can congress do to make sure the right people and structure are in place to adequately address this threat?

It is true that President Trump ousted the top White House official responsible for pandemic responses in 2018.

Coronavirus aside, there are dozen of government positions requiring Senate confirmation for which Trump has nominated no one. The Post is tracking these here.

However, Congress does have much more oversight over Trump's spending requests and is currently considering Trump's coronavirus spending request that he sent to Capitol Hill this week. This is likely where Congress will have the most oversight to weigh in on the government's response to the coronavirus, in addition to the public hearings it has held over the past few days.

How much has Trump's aberrant behavior affected Democratic candidates? GOP candidates downballot have gone full Trump aping his behavior. Bernie won't release his full medical records. Bloomberg's financial ties are opaque. How much ugly behavior or non-compliance with transparency in Dem candidates is apparent and attributable Trump's disregard for norms and rules?

It's tough to tease out what actions come from a specific candidate and what is derived from Trump, as you say, disregarding norms and rules. He is certainly creating his own norms, opening the door for other politicians to follow. I think it's a fair question to ask the impact he's having on transparency in the Democratic primary.

Doesn't China supply the MAGA hats? What if the epidemic affects the supply line?

Not the official ones; those are made in the USA.

Still Biden, right? That's all I need to know.

Trump has aimed his fire at Bloomberg lately. 

But before Bloomberg got in the race, Republican strategists were telling me they were worried that Biden could cause vulnerable congressional Republican candidate to lose. They feared him. 

Thank you all for joining us this week! Reminder that next we'll be chatting at noon on Wednesday instead of the usual time. 

In This Chat
Amber Phillips
Amber Phillips writes about politics for The Fix. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan.
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix. A Minnesota native, he has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Hill newspaper.
Eugene Scott
Eugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was recently a fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics. And prior to joining the Post, he was a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics.
JM Rieger
JM Rieger is the video editor for The Fix, covering national politics. He joined The Washington Post in 2018. Previously, Rieger worked as a video producer covering national politics for HuffPost. He began his career as a video editor covering Congress for Roll Call.
Natalie Jennings
Natalie Jennings is editor of The Fix. She has been at The Washington Post since 2010 and was previously a senior producer for Post Video.
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