2020 Sunday Trail Markers: The Democrats' top tier emerges

By Caitlin Conant

/ CBS News

Here's what you need to know in politics this week…

THE DEMOCRATS' TOP TIER EMERGES

Via Anthony Salvanto, Kabir Khana, Jennifer de Pinto and Fred Backus: Joe Biden continues to be the first choice among Democratic voters across the 2020 primary states holding contests through Super Tuesday. However, rivals Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are gaining on him and have seen increases in the number of voters at least considering them, suggesting they could have more room to gain going forward.

If we consider a 15% threshold as the minimum support needed to win convention delegates, then across the early states, four candidates would meet that benchmark: Biden, Warren, Harris and Bernie Sanders.

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The contest is tighter now among estimated delegates across early states, the true measure of the contest — delegates to the convention. By this measure, Warren is much closer to Biden due to stronger showings especially in very liberal areas.

Biden's support continues to benefit from his perceived electability against President Trump and positive ratings of his time as vice president, and he does especially well with voters who would prefer that a candidate take a more polite and civil tone.

But there may be a trade-off here, since Biden faces something of a passion gap when compared with other candidates who trail him. A majority of Democrats (56%) feel Warren will fight "a great deal" for people like them, and 54% believe this of Sanders, while a smaller percentage — 38% — describe Biden this way.

Read the full results here.

PENCE SAYS TRUMP "MIGHT MAKE AN EFFORT" TO STOP CHANTS

Via CBSNews.com reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez: Vice President Mike Pence said President Trump "might make an effort" to speak out against offensive chants by his supporters at campaign rallies in the future.

"He might make an effort to speak out about it," Pence told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett during an interview for "The Takeout" podcast, parts of which aired Sunday on "Face the Nation."

The vice president was pressed on Mr. Trump's recent attacks against four Democratic congresswomen of color, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

On "Face the Nation," Cory Booker, one of the two dozen Democrats competing for the party's presidential nomination, said President Trump is weaponizing racial animus to sow division in the country for his own political gain.

"He is somebody that is using race like a weapon to divide our country against itself," Booker said on "Face the Nation." "He's been using it since before he became president as a way to accelerate his gaining of political power."

DNC LAGS BEHIND RNC IN FUNDRAISING

Via Sarah Ewall-Wice: The Democratic National Committee is lagging behind the Republican National Committee when it comes to fundraising ahead of the 2020 election.

On Saturday, the RNC monthly filing showed the committee finished the first six months of the year with more than $43 million cash on hand while the DNC finished the first half of the year with just $9 million cash on hand. In June, the RNC raised more than $20 million, more than $14.5 million in May, and nearly $16 million in April.

By comparison, the DNC in June raised just $8.5 million, in May nearly $7 million, and in April just $7.5 million. The latest monthly filing also shows the DNC owed more than $5.7 million in debts at the end of June. Some donors have suggested that the DNC is behind because it doesn't have a nominee yet to rally behind, but others have raised concerns that the DNC will not be able to provide the necessary financial support when one does emerge next year.

KAMALA HARRIS PARTIES WITH TAYLOR SWIFT NEMESIS SCOOTER BRAUN

Via Stephanie Ramirez: Kamala Harris attended a fundraiser Saturday night hosted by Scooter Braun, the music industry heavyweight embroiled in a feud with Taylor Swift.

The Harris campaign did not immediately confirm details of the weekend fundraiser. An fundraiser invitation called the event a "Fireside Chat with Kamala Harris."

The night of the fundraiser, Braun tweeted: "A truly inspiring night with my friend @KamalaHarris."

A truly inspiring night with my friend @KamalaHarris 🇺🇸

— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) July 21, 2019

Harris' husband tweeted photos from the fundraiser, including one that read, "Sooooo, this happened…" showing a photo of the 2020 presidential candidate with Braun-affiliated artists Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry.

While the photos were shared and liked with among excited Harris fans, the Daily Mail published a story Sunday that shows a couple of tweets from upset Swift supporters. But neither of the two tweets pictured in the Daily Mail story had gone viral viral by Sunday afternoon.

Swift has been flexing more political muscle since last year, after previously maintaining a low political profile. Her recent video for the song "You Need to Calm Down" encouraged fans to sign her petition in favor of the Equality Act. In last year's midterms, she backed two Tennessee Democrats: Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who failed in his Senate bid against Marsha Blackburn, and Rep. Jim Cooper, who won reelection.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THIS WEEK

7/22 – Beto O'Rourke in NYC; John Hickenlooper in IA; Jay Inslee in CA

7/23 – Biden in LA; Pete Buttigieg in WA; Hickenlooper in IA; Inslee in CA

7/24 – O'Rourke in MI; Biden in MI; Cory Booker in MI; Buttigieg in MI; Julian Castro in MI; John Delaney in IA; Kirsten Gillibrand in IL; Harris in MI; Hickenlooper in IA; Amy Klobuchar in MI; Sanders in MI; Warren in MI

7/25 – Hickenlooper in IA

7/26 – Gillibrand in NH; Harris in IN

7/28 – Sanders to Canada

First published on July 21, 2019 / 9:47 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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