2020 Democratic Candidates for President

Updated on February 27, 2019

The Old Guard

Bernie Sanders

Why he could win the nomination: Sanders was the only legit contender in 2016, and has high name recognition and approval ratings among Demo caucus goers. He also is a proven grassroots fundraiser who took in over $6 million on the day he announced his 2020 candidacy, far higher than any of the other candidates.

Why he'll fall short: If elected, he'll be 79 years old, by far the oldest President upon taking office. It also remains to be seen if he has enough mass appeal to win crowded primaries and win over more moderate voters. Additionally, much of Bernie's appeal in 2016 might be chalked up to promoting more liberal policies than recent Democratic candidates, but a number of other contenders in the field have adopted some of his positions.

Joe Biden

Why he could win the nomination: Biden is viewed very favorably by a lot of Democratic voters and has generally led many of the early polls. He also should run strong in Midwestern states where the Dems lost ground to Donald Trump in 2016, particularly his native Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

Why he'll fall short: Biden is almost as old as Sanders (he'll be 78 when he takes office if he is elected President). He also has performed very poorly every time he's run for President previously, so it remains to be seen whether his name recognition and polling will actually translate into primary votes. Finally, he has a long legislative record that might leave him open for criticism from the left, especially compared to some of the younger candidates.

Elizabeth Warren

Why she could win the nomination: She's an experienced fundraiser with strong name recognition. She also is a darling of the progressive left and has perhaps the best command of policy of any of the liberal candidates. She may be a great choice for voters who like where Bernie is coming from but don't think he's looked enough into the details to really pass his plans.

Why she'll fall short: While Warren has easily won two elections as a Senator representing Massachusetts, she actually has under-performed given the Democratic lean of the state. She's also been slammed by many well-financed interest groups for her tough stance on regulating banks and the financial industry. Finally, the controversy over her claim of Native-American heritage might hurt her in voter's minds, both because it diminishes her elect-ability (Trump has already gleefully started lobbing names in her direction) and because it turns off liberal activists concerned with race and social justice issues.

Up and Comers

Kamala Harris

Why she could win: She's been polling relatively well (third behind Biden and Sanders in most early polls). The fact that she's from California might help her with courting rich donors (many of whom hail from Los Angeles and San Francisco). Furthermore, the state has moved its primary up to March from June, so if she runs well there she might have a great shot of racking up lots of delegates early in the primary process.

Why she'll fall short: Her legislative record is relatively short, so she doesn't have a ton of accomplishments to point too. She also has a record on criminal justice as a prosecutor that might turn off more liberal primary goers (though, conversely, this might help her with more moderate voters). The fact that she represents California might also be a double-edged sword, as it might leave her open to charges the she's a cultural elite out of touch with voters from the rest of the country (though this probably won't be as much of an impact in the primaries.

Cory Booker

Why he could win: He's got relatively high favorability ratings and executive experience as the former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He also is one of the only contenders with strong ties to New York and New Jersey, two critical states with lots of voters and deep-pocketed donors

Why he'll fall short: He has ties to the financial and pharmaceutical industry that might dampen his cred among progressive voters.

Sherrod Brown (has not officially announced)

Why he'll win the nomination: He can tap into the Midwestern voters who abandoned the party in droves in 2016 and bring Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania back into the Democratic fold. The fact that he agrees with some of Trump's moves to rein in free trade might help differentiate him from some of the other candidates.

Why he'll fall short: He has relatively low name recognition at the national level and is polling in the low single digits. Bernie is also "standing on his corner" to some extent, as Sanders has also expressed skepticism about free trade and the influence of large corporations on politics, so it remains unclear if Senator Brown has enough room to maneuver in a crowded field.

Beto O'Rourke (has not officially announced)

Why he'll win the nomination: He's a charismatic fundraising dynamo who is perhaps the brightest young Democrat out there. The fact that he almost managed to knock-off an incumbent in red Texas speaks well to his mass appeal, and he could help bring in new voters in states like Arizona and Georgia that might help expand the map in 2020.

Why he'll fall short: Almost winning isn't the same as winning, and Ted Cruz is one of the most unpopular Republican Senators, so Beto's 2016 performance might not be as impressive as it seems at first glance. He also has been relatively vague about some of his policy positions, and might not excite voters who want more liberal candidates or candidates with more policy experience.

Gunning for a Cabinet Position

Amy Klobuchar

Why she could win: She's a pragmatic Midwestern Senator who is popular in her home state and who has outperformed the national party by a considerable amount in all of her previous elections.

Why she'll fall short: A wave of stories about how she has mistreated her staff will probably doom her candidacy before it even gets going. Her appeal was partially in the idea that she was a non-controversial candidates from a key swing state, but some of the stories will lead voters to question her temperament and management ability.

Kristin Gillibrand

Why she could win: She's from one of the most important Democratic leaning states (New York) and has been a vocal supporter of the MeToo movement. She was one of the first high-profile elected Dems to demand the resignation of former Senator Al Franken after he allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, which might give her some cred among some progressive voters.

Why she'll fall short: She's polling in the low single digits and her name recognition is much lower than many other candidates. She also had a history of calling for increasing funding for ICE and for opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants, which might hurt her among Hispanic voters and other liberal activists.

Comments

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    • profile image

      bradmasteroccal 

      8 months ago

      Can anyone beat former vice president, former senator, and current Joe six pack Biden in the democrat primary. I don't think so.

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