So let me answer the second question first: No, Bill Weld doesn't have a shot in the primary against Trump. Not unless something super crazy game changing drops. There has never been a successful primary challenge against a sitting US president. To illustrate how difficult it is consider the fact that no one less than Ronald Reagan failed in 1976 to unseat Gerald Ford. Reagan, who four years later would go on to win a landslide victory and was the avatar of the conservatism that the party was moving towards was unable to defeat Gerry Ford, a guy who no one had voted for. Republicans have mostly made their peace with Trump at the top of the ticket. It's true that polls have shown that perhaps as many as 40% of GOP primary voters would like to see someone run in the primary against Trump. But that still means that 60% don't want anyone else to run, a significant improvement on the 44% of the primary vote which Trump got in 2016.
On to the Democratic side. Biden is, IIRC, the clear front runner in terms of polls. But I think there need to be important caveats. This is still super early in the race and people who aren't political junkies aren't really paying attention yet. So poll numbers at this point are notoriously soft. For some historical perspective at this point in 2015 the Republian front runners were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker (the latter of whom would withdraw before any actual votes were cast). Of course, Trump wasn't in the race yet, but he wouldn't become the front runner in the polls until the Fall. Other primaries show similar softness of early support. As late as October of 2007, Hillary Clinton was viewed as the clear, although not prohibitive, favorite. On the Republican side, the Fall of 2007 saw eventual nominee John McCain in third place behind Rudy Giulianni and Fred Thompson. Back in the 2003, Howard Dean was the clear front runner by Summer, a lead he would maintain until people actually began to vote. At this point, almost a year before people begin casting ballots all that these polls are really measuring is name recognition. When pollsters call up people and ask "Who out of these 20 candidates do you support" it's not because they've made a thorough inventory of people like Tulsi Gabbard, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and John Hicknelooper and decided they aren't worth supporting. It's that they respond with the names they already know. That's why Biden and Sanders are the top two candidates. Biden spent eight years as a popular VP and Sanders was the runner up last time around. They've got the big name recognition and so they stick in people's minds. I think the boom we're seeing for Pete Buttigieg is more of an actual thing where people have looked at him and decided that they like him on the merits. Whether or not that's sustainable is another question. My guess is we're going to see a number of people have booms like this as people discover them and think "maybe there's something to like here". But I just don't think that this boom in the spring of 2019 will lead to him becoming the nominee next year.
· 4 months ago