In a one-week span, the Democratic presidential field trimmed Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee and Joe Biden stayed out. It’s late October, and the Democratic field is down to three – four if you count Larry Lessig. Republicans still have 15 candidates in the race, with about fourteen or so qualifying for the debate stage. Only former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore scores so lowly on the national polls that the networks are excluding him from debates.
Everybody’s got their own threshold for “serious” candidates. But Gilmore and George Pataki are still here, and other long-shot candidates like Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, (sigh) Bobby Jindal, and arguably Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee are here, and probably won’t be leaving the race anytime soon.
One of the reasons that those long-shot candidates can’t get more traction is that there are so many of them. They’re either relegated to a second-tier, non-prime time debate or trying to get their five minutes of speaking time in the main one.
As noted yesterday, Santorum went from 2 percent to winning the Iowa caucuses and getting the second-most overall delegates in 2012. So long-shot candidates can look at his bid last cycle and tell themselves they still have a chance.