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Cory Booker’s Out: How This Happened And What It Means for the Democratic Party

Cory Booker had an extensive record jammed with high education and tons of experience. Having served as both a Mayor and a US Senator, Booker came in with a “more traditional resume.” When Booker first entered into the race, he was full of charisma and was almost a breath of fresh air. More than one platform predicted that Booker would be one of the top candidates, with even more thinking that there was a chance he could clinch the nomination. 

Throughout Booker’s campaign, he sparked decent rallies and attention. He qualified for every debate except for the last two (where restrictions were very tight.) He gave powerful speeches and traveled around the country. His campaign lacked any major scandals, bluffs, or gaffes. His speeches were big, bold and moving. He had crowds packed with supporters who all stood right by him. He shared incredible camaraderie with the candidates: Andrew Yang remarked that he “missed Cory” on the December Debate Stage and Booker was seen in a positive light by many other candidates. 

And yet on Monday, January 13th, Booker suspended his campaign, saying that there was no clear path to victory remaining and noting that fundraising was a major issue. Combined, Booker only received around $22.1 million in fundraising within the entirety of 2019, much less than some candidates could raise in just one quarter. 

For a multitude of reasons, Booker was just unable to draw the following that many predicted he’d amass. Here are some of the potential reasons why Booker wasn’t able to build the audience he needed: 

No One Thought He Could Win: Several voters have remarked that they think it’s unlikely that Booker could clinch the nomination. His biggest voting pools were supposed to be among African Americans, but he wasn’t even polling close to Joe Biden. One of the biggest factors was race. As the Atlantic explained, voters aren’t afraid of another African American president, they just don’t think that other people will vote for an African American. For this reason, no major group fully supported Cory Booker. As a result, his polling was extremely low and it didn’t make sense for him to even run in Iowa. 

He Couldn’t Stand Up To Trump: While Booker stood up to Trump multiple times, voters still thought that the Senator was incapable. His message of “unity” came at a time when the majority of Democrats were fully united behind an “anti-Trump” ideal. People didn’t come to the candidates looking for unification. They looked for the tough dog who would ultimately be able to defeat Trump. Booker wasn’t their guy. 

His Absence From Debates: Being absent from Democratic Debates can be a major blockade for candidates. The debates are absolutely essential in spreading awareness about campaigns. Former candidate Kamala Harris experienced a surge in polling after the debates in June and a subsequent fall after the debates in July. But candidates need to be on the stage in order for people to understand their positions on multiple leading issues. These debates, which are broadcasted all around the US, are watched from people all over the place. Booker missed out on the December Democratic Debate, one which saw almost 6.17 million views in just one night. The December debate was also much more policy-focused, meaning that Booker missed a night with good discussion. Without a voice in the debates, Booker wasn’t able to promote his platform. 

Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick: These two last-minute entrances really made a dent in Booker’s potential audience and poll base. Bloomberg and Patrick, who both hold relatively moderate beliefs on policy, etc, fully ate into Booker’s message. Booker, who had talked about unifying the party from day one, was snubbed of attention because of these two. Patrick even openly admitted that he was targeting the same audience that Booker was and confirmed that he would definitely try to cut into Booker’s polls. Bloomberg, who has been polling consistently thanks to his former popularity, also centralized his platform around unification, which was Booker’s message from the beginning. With the entrance of these two candidates, Booker lost the only audience that he was even able to draw. 

Booker’s drop from the race comes at a time when the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly diverse. Thus, it’s confusing that the most diversified playing field, the top six names in the January Debates are all white. His drop comes a month after Sen. Kamala Harris ended her own campaign as an African American woman, and just a few days after Julian Castro’s announcement that he was suspending his campaign as a Hispanic male. His exit leaves only three prominent diverse minority candidates: Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard and Deval Patrick. 

The struggle the party has between lining up its electorate and its candidates is alarming. Typically, party platforms and candidates tend to line up with their supporter base. Take Andrew Jackson and his supporters in the mid-1800s. He was a white, common man and so were they. This pattern repeated itself even into Obama, whose presence in the field reflected the growing diversity of the Democratic Party. However, Booker’s exit signals that Obama may have been a one time deal, as two of the three African American candidates have already dropped out and Patrick isn’t polling highly at all. Actually, he’s at the bottom of the field for the nearing primaries, in every state. 

Party mistreatment of minorities recently came up when Andrew Yang was unable to qualify for the Tuesday Democratic Debate after the DNC refused him any form of extra polls to qualify. Yang stood up to the party and highlighted the unfairness of the situation (less polls come out during the holiday season). The party known for its strong minority support couldn’t even get one non-white candidate onto the stage Tuesday. The Democrats held their position strongly and Yang ultimately didn’t make it to Tuesday’s debate. The absence of minority candidates on stage seemed to make the moderators forget that minorities were involved at all. In fact, there were no questions on race or discrimination at all and only a couple of vague references to the issue. 

Underneath Cory Booker’s perfect dream of a campaign, there were ultimately things that he just couldn’t control. His parties’ lack of faith would cause a motivated and fresh face to bow out of the race early. Voters and speakers in South Carolina remarked that Booker’s exit was hard for the more diverse electorate to swallow. All over Twitter, people moped over Booker’s resignation. 

But it’s not the end of Booker’s white house dreams. Currently, the Senator plans to put himself up for re-election in New Jersey. However, many have said that he would be a strong pick for the Vice Presidential Nominee. Only time will tell. 

Featured Image via Cory Booker @ 1:19

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 17 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba.

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