A New Hampshire poll released by Monmouth University today shows a close race in the "first in the nation" primary state with Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg leading the field at 20 percent, followed by Former Vice President Joe Biden at 19 percent.
CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says New Hampshire neighbors Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren register at 18 and 15 percent, respectively. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar earns 6%, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer come in at 4% and entrepreneur Andrew Yang registers at 3%. Compared to Monmouth University's last New Hampshire survey in September, support for Buttigieg's has grown the most – up by 10 points. Sanders' has increased his share of support by 6 points, while Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden's numbers have dropped by 12 points and 6 points respectively.
Even if the field winnows, the race appears neck and neck. The poll probed New Hampshire voters on who they would support if the nomination race came down to just the four leading candidates come the February 11th primary. In this hypothetical race, Biden's vote share grows by the most, earning 5 points to 24%. Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren all gain 3% by the same measure. Of note, another 5% of voters – half of whom back Gabbard -- say they will not cast a ballot for any of these candidates in a four-way contest.
This poll does not qualify any additional candidates for the debate stage. To qualify, contenders must raise money from 225,000 unique donors (with at least 1,000 apiece in 20 states) and reach polling thresholds in qualifying surveys. Candidates can hit that mark with either four different polls of at least 5 percent, or two polls of at least 7 percent from early primary and caucus states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. Only five candidates have made the stage: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer and Warren.
Yang, who recently launched a #PollThePeople twitter campaign to encourage the DNC to run their own polls told CBS News last night in Merrimack, New Hampshire, he has enough resources to stay in the primary through the spring, regardless of his debate participation. "If we don't make the debate, we're growing, independent of media opportunities." Yang remarked
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is set to endorse former vice president Joe Biden's presidential bid, according to multiple Democratic officials familiar with his plans. CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe says the official endorsement is set to be made Friday morning in Los Angeles and Garcetti is expected to be named a national campaign co-chairman. News of the endorsement was first reported by The New York Times.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also announced this week that he would be endorsing Joe Biden, ahead of touring an infrastructure project with the former vice president in his city. Garcia had been a prominent backer of Kamala Harris, campaigning for the then-presidential candidate throughout the country. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says Biden has courted former Harris endorsers in the Super Tuesday state, where he has jockeyed with Bernie Sanders to capture the lion's share of the state's more than 400 pledged delegates.
"Biden is ready to lead our country on day one," Garcia tweeted Thursday. "He will stand up for the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and working class families. He can unite our party. Let's go!"
CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga also says New Hampshire state Senator Martha Fuller-Clark has decided to back Biden. Fuller-Clark is the first DNC member from the state to endorse a 2020 presidential candidate. "I certainly think that the international crisis that we're facing over the last week was one of the key reasons that I felt it was important to call up now and support the Vice President, as our next president," the five-term state Senator told CBS News.
"He has unparalleled experience with regard to foreign and International Affairs, and there's no question in my mind that we need someone with that type of background and experience to be running the country over the next four years." Fuller-Clark continued, "I also believe that his best position to pull the country together and to beat Trump, which could not be more essential right now that we have a candidate who is in the best position to do that."
According to CBS News' count, seven of New Hampshire's fourteen Democratic state Senators have backed a candidate. All four members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation have refrained from picking a presidential contender so far.
Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign has brought on yet another operative with ties to Capitol Hill. Gisel Aceves, the political director of BOLDPAC, the super PAC for members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is joining the former mayor's campaign, according to multiple people familiar with the move. Aceves began informing members of the caucus of her job plans today, the people familiar with her plans said. Aceves referred questions about her next move to the Bloomberg campaign, which didn't immediately reply to requests for comment.
She previously worked for Emily's List, the DSCC and on the reelection campaign of Senator Michael Bennet. CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe reports Bloomberg continues to staff up, with more than 500 personnel deployed nationwide and stationed at a Times Square headquarters in New York. Those being hired or sought out to join the campaign are those with specific experience in the 14 states holding Super Tuesday contests or that have been part of general election campaigns in the past.
Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown endorsed Pete Buttigieg Thursday, according to CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. Brown is the first Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member to endorse Buttigieg and is Buttigieg's first national campaign co-chair. "Our country needs a president who can heal our divides and restore decency to our nation's highest office," Brown said in a statement. "Pete's message is not defined by exclusion but welcomes everyone into the fight to tackle our nation's greatest challenges."
Brown is also a Harvard alum and a military veteran. He also traveled to Iowa with Buttigieg on a recent campaign swing. Buttigieg also received endorsements from local leaders in Iowa on Thursday, including Iowa state Representative Kristin Sunde and Kirsten Anderson, a women's rights advocate who previously endorsed New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Tom Steyer's son Sam met with a couple of College of Charleston sophomores at a local coffee shop Thursday to hear from students about their thoughts on student debt and other issues that concern them most. The 31-year-old co-founder of a budding San Francisco-based clean energy company told CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell that the message he hopes to share a message of unity with college students.
"We find when we talk to college students that they are really informed and thoughtful, really idealistic, really practical, we agree with them on a lot of priorities—climate change, living wage, access to healthcare," Sam Steyer said. "What we want to say to them is in 2020, there are more people across the country who share our vision but in order to enact it we need to win the presidency and we need to win up and down the ballot, we need to win in Congress, we need to win in state and local races, and that's a matter of turnout."
This is Sam Steyer's second visit to the Palmetto State, where his dad's campaign now boasts the largest number of paid staffers — 84 — and four field offices.
Mr. Trump will hold his first rally of the election year on Thursday night in Toledo, Ohio. The rally will be his first since tensions heightened with Iran in recent weeks and since Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to delay sending over the articles of impeachment to the Senate. CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson notes that this rally comes in the middle of a swing through Midwest states that secured his 2016 victory and will be crucial to winning the general election in November. The last two rallies of 2019 took place in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and his first two of 2020 will be in Ohio and Wisconsin. Trump won Ohio's 18 electoral votes by 8 points in 2016, but the state picked Obama in 2008 and 2012. Watch the rally here.
Ahead of Julián Castro's visit to the state this weekend for Elizabeth Warren, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says DNC National Committeewoman Allison Stephens has joined the former Obama housing chief in endorsing Warren. Once one of Castro's more prominent backers in the state, Stephens praised both as "unapologetically progressive."
"Elizabeth Warren shares Secretary Julián Castro's vision of an America that works for everyone," Stephens said in a statement released by the campaign.
With just 51 days until the South Carolina Democratic primary contest, the Biden campaign announced Thursday that it will launch the "South Carolina Soul of the Nation" surrogate bus tour to take place days before the former vice president's visit to the state next week. Senior adviser Symone Sanders, actor Sean Patrick Thomas, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, and others will headline the 4-day swing scheduled to begin next Wednesday. According to the campaign, the team will stop by beauty shops, historically black colleges, and other sites in 15 of the state's 46 counties.
By the end of the swing, 39 counties will have been visited by either Biden or his surrogates this cycle. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Biden — who last visited South Carolina in November — has continued to outpace his competitors by double-digits and has managed to pick up key endorsements during his absence. According to the campaign, the bus tour is comparable to the "We Know Joe" surrogate bus tour that began in Iowa Tuesday featuring former Secretary of State John Kerry and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
While half a dozen Democratic presidential candidates have rolled through Iowa on buses this political season and Mayor Pete Buttigieg wheeled through all 10 counties in New Hampshire during his bus tour in November, Biden's surrogate tour will be the first of its kind in South Carolina this election cycle. But in years past, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have used bus tours to connect with voters in the state ahead of presidential primary contests. In January 2008, the Post and Courier reported that Democratic hopeful John Edwards and Republican candidates John McCain and Fred Thompson were all zig-zagging through the southern coastal region of the state known as the Lowcountry just two weeks before both state parties' presidential primary contests.
South Carolina state Senator Marlon Kimpson officially endorsed Biden on Monday and is scheduled to participate in the tour. "What we are seeing in Iowa is that pressing the flesh, slapping backs, kissing babies, works and this is the type of campaigning that South Carolinians are used to--the grassroots-style knocking on doors, where you interact with voters," said Kimpson. "We got a lot of new entrants in this election spending tons of money and South Carolinians appreciate [Biden] having the old-school-style retail politics...it's an indication not that he thinks that somebody is snipping at his coattails but his appreciation and love for our state."
Separately, South Carolina Representative J.A. Moore acted as a tour guide for Elizabeth Warren surrogate Maurice Mitchell — the national director of the Working Families Party — as the two met with a local African American business owner at in North Charleston Thursday afternoon. "[Warren] has a whole platform that's just focused on that corruption…so that everyday people, working folks, and small businesses and entrepreneurs have a fighting chance and have the support of their government," Mitchell told a local business owner. "A Warren presidency, not only would it be light years away from Donald Trump, it'll be something that we've never experienced and it's time."
Moore — who was an early endorser and ardent supporter of California Senator Kamala Harris — said this is his first public campaign-related event with a presidential team since Harris suspended her campaign in December. At the time he told CBS News that Harris' support would have to be earned by other Democratic contenders. Now, a month after Harris' departure, Moore has been in close talks with half a dozen presidential campaigns including Warren's as he weighs his next move. In an interview with Mitchell Thursday, Moore said it's important for presidential campaigns and candidates to visit his diverse district—where he says more than 27 countries are represent — and to remember the state even after the primary in February.
"South Carolina, to me, is a very valuable state, nationally. We can become a purple state, we just have to have the investment at the national level to do it," said Moore. "We need the presidential campaigns to have deep roots here in South Carolina after February…I'm going to make sure whoever I endorse moving forward that's going to be a commitment that I demand."
Facebook is reaffirming its commitment not to fact-check or ban political ads on its platform, CBS News political unit associate producer Ben Mitchell reports. In a press release Thursday, the social media company outlined new transparency features for its ad library and tools for users to opt in or out of targeted ads, but doubled down on its increasingly controversial position. "While Twitter has chosen to block political ads and Google has chosen to limit the targeting of political ads, we are choosing to expand transparency and give more controls to people when it comes to political ads," Facebook said.
The company says after it spoke to various activist groups and campaigns of all sizes and political persuasions it learned how much those groups value Facebook's targeting tools. It also pointed out that 85% ad spending by presidential candidates is targeted at audiences of 250,000 or more. "Ultimately, we don't think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies," the statement reads.
Facebook also reiterated its calls for clearer rules and regulations from the government, a sentiment echoed by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his own Facebook post later in the day. "There are a number of areas where I believe governments establishing clearer rules would be helpful, including around elections, harmful content, privacy, and data portability," writes Zuckerberg. "I've called for new regulation in these areas and over the next decade I hope we get clearer rules for the internet."
The Democratic campaign arm raised about $14.4 million in December, bringing their total to $124.7 million in 2019. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos told reporters Thursday that this is $20 million more than what they had raised in 2017, says CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. "We got to hang on to this majority because we know what's at stake in 2020. We are going to play very, very aggressively in, what in some cases, has been long held Republican territory... we've got the resources to get the job done," Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, said.
Bustos noted more than three-quarters of the DCCC's Frontline members, House Democrats in vulnerable 2020 districts raised more than $500,000. One of those members, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, announced they raised $900,000 in the fourth quarter.
Bustos and DCCC Executive Director Lucinda Guinn emphasized that House incumbents and candidates should continue to emphasize hyper-local issues and "run like a mayor," as Bustos put it. House Democrats have also been promoting their passage of HR-3, a bill that lowers prescription drug costs. This push comes as Republicans hit hard on vulnerable Democrats for their vote on impeachment in the closing months of 2019. The DCCC heads said impeachment did not make a huge impact on their strategy or on polling numbers.
"Look, we ran on our 'For the People' agenda. So the people who are Frontline members right now, they knew about keeping things local. In these tougher districts, believe me you don't obsess about Donald Trumps. I think most people in America know how you feel about Donald Trump," Bustos said. "I think that's the winning formula, to talk about what matters to people." Guinn added, "The list of things that's on people's minds does not include impeachment right now."
When asked about if they've tested split-ticket voting with leading Democratic Presidential front-runners in Trump-won districts, Guinn said it's still too far to gauge that. "We can control what we can control. We are going to run aggressive, smart strategy on the issues that matter to voters in each individual district," she said.