Over the weekend, two more Democrats made it official by launching Presidential campaigns aimed at defeating Donald Trump in 2020. First, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren officially launched her campaign with an event on Saturday. Next in line was Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who launched her 2020 campaign at a snowy event on Sunday.
Where Democrats Stand
So far, as of today, there are 9 major Democratic candidates who have officially launched a campaign or have at least launched a presidential exploratory committee to begin raising money and laying the groundwork for a formal campaign:
- Cory Booker, U.S. Senator from New Jersey
- Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
- Julian Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration
- John Delaney, U.S. Representative from Maryland’s 6th Congressional District
- Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District
- Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator from New York
- Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator from California
- Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator from Minnesota
- Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
Out of that list, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are the most well-known candidates so far, and both have the highest polling numbers in Iowa.
Who’s Still Missing?
The biggest name missing from the declared list is obviously former Vice President Joe Biden, who continues to wait in the wings and mull his options for a presidential run.
While Biden stews on the possibility, some Democrats are working behind the scenes to keep him out of the race, according to McClatchy:
Joe Biden is everything a Democratic political consultant should love: He’s experienced, well-liked, and his poll numbers look great against Donald Trump.
And yet many party strategists have a bleak assessment of his potential 2020 campaign: It’s a bad, bad idea.
“This last election cycle, we’ve seen a whole new level of energy that has emerged through a lot of fresh faces, and the party has moved in that direction and wants to hear new ideas and different messages,” said Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party who now works as a consultant in the state.
Added Jim Manley, longtime Democratic operative: “I’m not convinced Biden is the right way to go at this point in time.”
“The folks I’ve talked to are a little taken aback” by his potential candidacy, Manley said. “No one quite understands where it’s coming from.”
Strikingly, these conversations yielded a similar view: The Democratic political community is more broadly and deeply pessimistic about Biden’s potential candidacy than is commonly known.
That’s a fascinating development since various polls have found that Democrats think it’s more important to defeat President Trump than to share their views on every single issue, as CNN reported a few days ago:
In late January, 43% of Democratic respondents said in an ABC News/Washington Post poll that it was more important to them to choose a candidate who seemed most likely to defeat Trump than it was to choose a candidate closest to them on the issues. That was only slightly behind the 47% who thought that issues were more important.
In a differently worded question, Monmouth University found this week that 56% of Democrats said they rather have a candidate who they don’t agree on most issues but was stronger against Trump than the 33% who said they wanted a candidate they agreed with but would have a hard time beating Trump.
These polls followed a CNN Iowa poll in which 54% of Iowa Democrats said beating Trump was more important than a candidate who shared their position on major issues. Just 41% said issues were more important to them.
Biden may be a little off base as the Democratic Party moves to the left, but polls show him to be the most competitive against President Trump right now. Perhaps that is due to name recognition alone and any of the other candidates could eventually build their case against Trump, but Biden sits in the best starting position.
Beto and Bernie
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is also still considering another run. Signs point to a campaign in the works, but the competition for his primary lane will be tougher in 2020, as CNN reports:
“He really has the power to reshape the field,” Time’s Molly Ball said. “This candidate who took everybody by surprise in 2016 has really held onto a large part of his following.”
The problem, Ball said, is all the other candidates who are following Sanders’ progressive playbook.
“So many candidates are running to the left, embracing free college, embracing Medicare for all, and embracing themes of economic inequality.”
Ball said a decision on whether to run is likely imminent. “He’s really looking at whether a lane remains for him in such a crowded field.”
For Bernie, the question is whether he can elbow his way into a crowded progressive field of Democrats who are usurping his 2016 platform and likely making him less relevant in 2020. We expect him to announce a decision on his 2020 plans in the coming weeks, maybe even days.
Meanwhile, down in Texas, former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke continues to explore the possibility of a campaign by talking to voters and determining if he has a shot at a national campaign.
O’Rourke will get his opportunity to go head-to-head against President Trump on Monday evening by speaking at a counter-rally in El Paso to the President’s “Make America Great Again” rally in the same city at the exact same time. Marketwatch reports on the details:
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a possible Democratic presidential contender, will headline a rally on Monday in El Paso at the same time that President Donald Trump is set to hold a rally there.
As the Washington Post reports, O’Rourke announced late Friday he would join residents in the Texas city in a “peaceful march.” The Post said the former Texas congressman avoided calling out Trump by name, but it was obvious the protest was intended to coincide with Trump’s Make America Great Again rally in El Paso on the same night.
Many are speculating that O’Rourke could use this opportunity to announce a presidential campaign by capturing some primetime attention as a voice to counter the President.
That’s the latest on the 2020 Democratic field and how things are shaping up. As it stands right now, even if Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Beto O’Rourke all decide to jump in, we may only be looking at a maximum of 12 major candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, a far cry from the two-dozen possible names being floated a few months ago.