Julián Castro began his presidential bid with a lot going for him. He’s a youthful Texas political figure with deep Latino ties and experience as a former mayor and cabinet official under President Barack Obama. But when the Democrats take the stage for the next presidential debate, it’s likely that Castro won’t be there.
John Moritz covers Texas politics and government for the USA Today Network. He says that in addition to a strong political résumé, Castro has been one of the more “feisty” participants in presidential debates.
“[But] all that has been getting him a big, fat 1% or 2% in the national polls,” Moritz says.
Even fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke’s departure from the race last week hasn’t helped Castro in Texas polls.
Moritz says the crowded Democratic field is one stumbling block for Castro, and that he and others in the race have struggled with the perception that they are unlikely to defeat President Donald Trump – an important factor for Democratic primary voters when choosing a favorite candidate. Moritz says former Vice President Joe Biden is perceived by many “middle-of-the-road” voters to be the most electable Democrat in the race.
Castro said in October that he would end his campaign if he hadn’t raised $800,000 by the end of that month. He met his goal, and continued his run. But low poll numbers are what will probably keep him out of forthcoming debates.
“The fundraising is not his biggest problem,” Moritz says. “It’s breaking through the polling thresholds that are unforgiving as we get closer to the primaries and caucuses.”
Once primaries and caucuses begin, Mortiz says, debates are less important when it comes to opportunities for candidates to stand out.
“If he can make it to Nevada, survive South Carolina and participate in Super Tuesday in Texas and California and some of the other states where there is a base hospitable to what he’s saying, perhaps he can go forward.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.