With Vice President Joe Biden officially joining the 2020 Presidential campaign in pursuit of the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump, here is where the Democratic field currently stands. There are twenty major (and some more minor) candidates running which means most of them have no chance of becoming the 2020 Democratic nominee.
With Biden now in, the race fully begins today as there is no longer speculation that any bigger names are still waiting on the sidelines to join the campaign.
Top tier candidates start off with wide name recognition and a national fundraising network to instantly tap in to and begin building a nationwide campaign. These candidates are the ones to beat as it currently stands. Polling shows these candidates usually with a double-digit lead over their closest rivals.
1. Joe Biden – The former Vice President remains popular with most Democratic voters and retains the ora of serving under President Barack Obama for eight years in the White House. Biden is formidable as a good retail politician, able to connect with voters on a personal level. Recently he’s faced criticism over the way he invades the personal space of females inappropriately, but he seems to be brushing it off and plowing ahead.
2. Bernie Sanders – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to captivate a sizable chunk of the Democratic party base with his democratic socialism. Always outspoken, even on topics as controversial as voting rights for convicted felons, he speaks his mind and his supporters find this trait refreshing. Bernie sits well outside of the Democratic establishment making him a solid choice for the anti-establishment choice among Democratic primary voters.
Candidates in the middle tier usually have some name recognition but have not built a national following or national fundraising network. These candidates often poll in the high single digits and do have interest from voters, but still trail behind the top tier in terms of fundraising and/or political notoriety.
3. Kamala Harris – Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, continues to sit firmly ensconced in the middle tier with polling numbers often showing her in 3rd place behind Bernie or Biden. She is well-liked by many Democrats but hasn’t been able to break out of this spot in the field. Her experience as a prosecutor in her home state has been an asset and a liability since criminal justice reform is typically a top Democratic priority yet Harris has had her share of controversial prosecutions.
4. Pete Buttigieg – The current Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg has rocketed into the middle tier in a few short weeks. Buttigieg is best known for his reasoned approach to his political adversaries. He’s not afraid to take a stand, yet also makes sure he doesn’t demonize his opponents. Buttigieg has been running a disciplined campaign since he began an exploratory phase back in February. Always on message and on brand providing consistent answers even if he’s light on policy specifics. He does, however, have a record as mayor that his opponents have begun exploring for weaknesses.
5. Elizabeth Warren – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, has been having trouble breaking through the crowded field with her message. She currently sits in the middle tier but could be at risk of falling down the ladder if other candidates continue to steal her thunder. She’s typically outspoken, such as her recent proposal to forgive and eliminate some student loan debt, but it hasn’t helped push her into the top tier. A series of campaign missteps at the beginning of her candidacy has left voters uneasy about her ability to compete on the national stage against Donald Trump.
6. Beto O’Rourke – Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke squeaks in as the last candidate sitting in the middle tier. So far, he’s been unable to build on his strong entrance to the race, though he has been able to raise a lot of money. It’s speculated that Pete Buttigieg is taking a lot of Beto’s oxygen right now since they play to the same voting bloc. O’Rourke has campaign cash to compete for the long haul and his time could come down the road, perhaps during the debates where he shined in Texas while debating incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.
Candidates who sit outside the top and middle tier, yet retain a small percentage of Democratic voters still have a shot at building momentum down the road. If one or more of the major or middle tier candidates falter, these candidates might have a chance to stand out and their fortunes could rise practically overnight.
7. Cory Booker – Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, has been fighting to make a name for himself but has been unable to capture much energy. He’s made a few odd statements and generally doesn’t come across all that well in interviews. On paper, he’s a great candidate in 2020 on the Democratic side, but voters remain unconvinced. He’s got potential, however, and will stick it out for a while with the possibility that his fortunes may rise if Elizabeth Warren continues to falter.
8. Amy Klobuchar – Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota hasn’t been able to adequately define why she’s running in 2020, or been able to build momentum for her candidacy. With persistent rumors abounding about her treatment of Senatorial and campaign staffers swirling, her candidacy may be one of the first of the group of Senators running to come to an end in 2019. She also had a weak showing at a recent CNN candidate town hall event.
9. Andrew Yang – Businessman Andrew Yang makes the last of the cut in the hopeful tier. Yang takes his message to every possible venue, including places like Fox News, and isn’t afraid to voice his support for plans like Universal Basic Income, which he says will be necessary as more automation takes hold. Yang is a non-politician in the race, which has helped grab some attention. He’s got a personal fortune that can fund him for a while, and he’ll be looking to the debate stage as a way to jumpstart his campaign.
There’s no graceful way to say it, but these candidates are fighting for the 1 percent of polling data that will help drive a reason for their campaigns. The bottom tier is very deep and filled with everyone from former Governors, sitting Senators, and even a best-selling spiritualist author. The bottom tier is often the high water mark for most of these candidates, but the off-chance remains that they could somehow break into the middle tier as other candidates falter.
10. Julian Castro – Serving under President Obama as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro has been unable to garner much attention for his candidacy. He’s never held any wide political office, though that fact hasn’t hurt Pete Buttigieg. Castro has tried to break out by taking jabs at Joe Biden over his touch-feely handsiness with females, but that only garnered temporary attention. Castro may end up being on someone’s short list as a Vice Presidential pick down the road, but maybe the debates will give him a chance to shine.
11. John Hickenlooper – Governor John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, made some big news when he entered the race, but has been sitting at a whopping 1% of national polling support. He’s generally a little moderate for many within the Democratic primary voting process, but his experience as a Governor would serve him well in the general election. There has been some movement in recent polls, but Hickenlooper has a lot of work ahead of him.
12. Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, has been nothing short of uninspiring since she announced her campaign back in March. Her interviews and campaign appearances have been decent but she’s been unable to articulate anything unique which makes her a good option as the Democratic nominee in 2020. She is stuck at nearly the same level as Amy Klobuchar but sits sometimes at 0% in polling support.
13. John Delaney – Maryland Representative John Delaney announced his campaign way back in 2017, and he often gives good interviews and is generally a solid candidate. However, Delaney is fairly moderate, and being a Congressman, would have a tough sell in a national campaign. Delaney, for his part, though, see’s his moderate tone as an asset in the general election.
What’s below the bottom tier? Usually 0% in polling support and practically zero chance of winning the 2020 Democratic nomination. However, this year has attracted a buffet of candidates who have announced, some simply for the attention, their intention to challenge Donald Trump. Perhaps one of these longshots might be a dark horse to break out down the road, but probably not.
14. Tulsi Gabbard – Hailing from Hawaii’s 2nd district, Representative Tulsi Gabbard has been an outspoken Trump critic and has built a small national following on some issues. However, her campaign has been anemic since announcing back in January and she’s basically an unknown on the national stage. However, she’ll be on the debate stage in June.
15. Mike Gravel – The former Senator from Alaska, who last held office in 1981, has already said he has no plans to win the nomination and doesn’t want any votes. Instead, Gravel wants to participate in the debates, likely to remain relevant for his own financial interests.
16. Jay Inslee – As the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee entered the 2020 race to push a strong environmentalist message. He’s running on climate chance as almost his singular issue. He’s got great credentials as a governor but is missing any kind of excitement factor to build a national campaign on.
17. Wayne Messam – As mayor of the city of Miramar in the important swing state of Florida, Wayne Messam basically fits the bill as coming from an important state that Democrats must win in 2020 to beat Donald Trump. His lack of national campaign experience is a detriment and he’s been less than a blip in polls since announcing back in late March. He’s also running into money problems already.
18. Seth Moulton – Representative Seth Moulton, of Massachusetts’ 6th District, is in the list of people running for the sake of running. He stands no shot at the nomination, but announcing a presidential campaign is free publicity and more interviews.
19. Tim Ryan – Representative Tim Ryan, from the 13th District of Ohio, has a better reason for running than Seth Moulton does, but he’s in the same boat. Ohio is a swing state, and Ryan has a minimal argument that he could help deliver it, but as a Congressman, his presidential campaign is likely going nowhere.
20. Eric Swalwell – Representative Eric Swalwell, of California’s 15th District, completes the trio of small-time Democratic Congressman running for President to pad their own resumes. Swalwell has made his fame on television appearances where he serves as a fierce and brutal critic of President Trump. Like the others, Moulton and Ryan, Swalwell is looking for a shot at the debate stage to raise his national profile while retaining no chance at the Democratic nomination in 2020.
21. Marianne Williamson – Williamson is the spiritualist best-selling author in the race, a title that she exclusively holds against a bunch of Senators, Governors, and Congressmen. She wants to be America’s healer, though she’s been stuck at little to no polling support. She has, however, been on track to make the fundraising numbers necessary to have a shot at the debate stage in June.
There are other declared candidates, but none with any kind of name recognition or ability to raise the money necessary to join the debate stage. This list basically rounds out the top 20 (or so) Democrats running for President in 2020.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, which can sometimes occur in politics, the 2020 Democratic nominee will be someone on this list. Place your bets now. With Biden’s entrance into the race, the field will reshuffle and reset over the next week or so.
Let the games begin!