"I'm Running For You"

Posted: May 30, 2015 11:43 AM

Another day, another long-shot candidate enters the race. This time it’s former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who announced his candidacy Saturday morning at a park overlooking the Baltimore harbor.

The overarching theme of his speech was about rebuilding the American dream—the progressive way, of course.

He touted passing the DREAM Act and marriage equality as governor, nailed Wall Street for its role in the financial crisis, and touched on climate change, income inequality, education, and the economy.

“No matter how long the odds, no matter how large the challenge, and no matter how tough the fight,” O’Malley said, “this is the urgent work calling us forward today: to rebuild the truth of the American Dream for all Americans.”

O’Malley, however, will have just as long odds and just as great of a challenge in actually winning the presidency, let alone the Democratic nomination.

FiveThirtyEight explains:

The barriers between O’Malley and the Democratic presidential nomination are virtually endless, but here are four:

1.Hillary Clinton.

2.O’Malley has essentially zero support from Democratic office-holders.

3.He’s garnering just 2 percent support in Iowa, New Hampshire andnational primary polls — far worse than Barack Obama at this pointeight years ago.

4.O’Malley made some noise about running to Clinton’s left, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is already occupying that ideological space. Meanwhile, O’Malley has been attacked from the left for his policing strategy during his time as Baltimore mayor.

But there’s a far simpler reason for why I’ve doubted O’Malley’s ability to compete: The people who know him best don’t like him. O’Malley is starting way down in the polls, and he’s not well known. And we have evidence that more O’Malley exposure doesn’t equal more O’Malley support. He earned just 3 percent (compared to Clinton’s 63 percent) in a poll of Democratic voters in Maryland conducted in October by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland.

If this strikes you as a surprisingly low percentage for a two-term Maryland governor and former mayor of the state’s most populous city, it should. It speaks to the fact that O’Malley was unpopular enough in deep-blue Maryland that by the end of his second term, Republican Larry Hogan came out of nowhere to defeat O’Malley’s lieutenant governor in the 2014 governor’s race.

Regardless, O’Malley’s in, making him the third Democratic candidate to announce so far.

“I declare that I am a candidate for president the United States,” he concluded, “and I am running for you.”