You’ve seen “The Untouchables.” You’ve cheered on “The Incredibles.” Now meet “The Invisibles.”
The Democrats who’ve been running for president for months without leaving any visible sign.
When it comes to polls in August for an election that takes place a year from November, we know all the cliches. Early polling doesn’t matter. There’s still plenty of time. A month is an eternity in politics. Just because Joe Biden’s at 31 percent today doesn’t mean he’ll be the nominee. “Why, Bill Clinton was in single-digits at this point in the 1992 race,” one veteran New Hampshire Democrat loves reminding.
But the cold, hard reality is that the 2020 “First In The Nation” New Hampshire primary is less than 190 days away. Most of the candidates have been campaigning for months. There have been two rounds of nationally televised debates, and in the relatively small universe of “likely Democratic primary voters in the state of New Hampshire,” these people have had time to at least make an impression.
Which is why it’s significant that several of them haven’t. Seven of the 2020 candidates don’t register in the latest polling, because not a single N.H. Democratic primary voter surveyed by Suffolk University mentioned their names.
Yes, two of the candidates are Alaska governor Mike Gravel (who has since dropped out and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders) and Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida. Their no-show is hardly a surprise given the nature of their campaigns.
But also on the list of (literal) no names in the 2020 N.H. primary are relatively big political names:
• New York City mayor Bill de Blasio
• Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
• Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton
• Ohio U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan
• Retired Navy Admiral Joe Sestak
Not one of the 500 New Hampshire Democrats surveyed by Suffolk is supporting or leaning toward supporting any of these candidates. They’re invisible. Ghosts. Like Kwai Chang Caine in the old “Kung Fu” TV series, they’ve managed to campaign across an entire state without leaving a trace.
Other Democrats narrowly avoided making the “Invisibles” list: Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper got the backing of just one respondent in the survey, and one-time political heartthrob Beto O’Rourke was the favorite of just two New Hampshire Democrats.
The news is particularly bad for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has participated in more than 50 campaign events across the Granite State but garnered just three supporters in the Suffolk poll. Not three percent. Three people.
It should be noted that many of the 20-plus candidates don’t get mentioned in national polls, either. But that’s not as significant because most of the candidates aren’t campaigning in, say, Alabama or Oregon. But voters in New Hampshire often run into presidential candidates or political surrogates while out doing their weekend shopping. Getting blanked in the Granite State is a big deal.
And the biggest losers are de Blasio and Moulton. The New York City mayor has 75% name ID in the latest Morning Consult rankings, among the highest in the 24-person field. And he’s the mayor of New York (as opposed to South Bend, Indiana), which means he gets major media coverage in the northeast. And still — not a single Granite State supporter.
New Hampshire Democrats know Bill de Blasio. They just don’t like him.
(The mayor is also polling at zero percent in the latest national poll, too.)
And while Seth Moulton’s national name ID is 30 points lower than de Blasio, his Massachusetts congressional district is literally on the New Hampshire border. In addition to his 30 or so campaign events in the state, he spent part of last year actively campaigning for one of the (losing) candidates in the NH-01 Democratic primary.
And he still couldn’t pick up a single respondent?
Yes, polls are by definition merely samples of the electorate. It’s possible that a different Granite State sample could include an Inslee or Ryan backer. Maybe even two. Anything’s possible.
But it’s hard to make the case that your candidacy is resonating when you don’t even show up on the board at this point in the race.
A Suffolk poll in June found that both de Blasio and Moulton were on the list of “candidates Democrats most wanted to drop out of the race.” During a press gaggle Tuesday morning, Moulton objected when asked about polling at zero (“most polls have us at 1 percent!”) and told reporters he has no plans to abandon the field.
At this point, does it even matter?