The Democratic presidential primaries are more than a year away, but here’s an early look at many of the possible candidates. Special thanks to Wikipedia for a comprehensive list of 42 (!!!) possible candidates.
by Andrew Millman
- Joe Biden served as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years and was a longtime Senator from Delaware before that. He currently holds a significant lead in early polling, at nearly 30% in most, but this could largely be because of name recognition. “Uncle Joe” a beloved figure by many, but his handling of the Anita Hill hearings and his role in passing the 1994 Crime Bill will come under scrutiny if he decides to run.
- Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist Senator from Vermont came in second during the last presidential primary. His surprise success and subsequent advocacy has pushed the Democratic Party to the left on a plethora of positions. However, while he is currently second in polling to Biden, he is currently only polling in the mid-teens, less than half of his 2016 vote percentage, which could portend weakness for him as a 2020 candidate. He’s the most popular politician nationally, but so was Hillary Clinton in 2014.
- Beto O’Rourke, an outgoing Congressman from Texas who almost beat Ted Cruz in this year’s senate contest, has become a beloved figure among young people and activists. He wasn’t included in polling until recently, but so far he polls better than most. And, ya know, Abraham Lincoln also lost a senate race two years before becoming president.
- Kamala Harris is a freshman senator from California, but she has already made a name for herself as an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, especially during the family separation crisis and the Kavanaugh hearings. She does relatively well in polling, but she does not have the same name recognition as some of her competitors. Some progressives also really don’t like her, for reasons not really explainable.
- Elizabeth Warren is a former Harvard professor who helped start the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and is currently a Senator from Massachusetts. Along with Sanders, she is a favorite among progressives and has recently publicized several important policy proposals. However, she was recently criticized by the Cherokee Nation for using a DNA test to “prove” Native American ancestry.
- Kirsten Gillibrand is a second term Senator from New York, who has voted against Trump more than any of her colleagues, a dramatic evolution from being a relatively-conservative upstate congresswoman. During her senate tenure, she has been the most prominent advocate for victims of sexual violence, even before the #MeToo movement came to prominence. She was the first senator to call on former Sen. Al Franken to resign for groping multiple women, but this has surprisingly caused many wealthy donors to turn against her to forcing a popular colleague from office.
- Cory Booker is a Senator from New Jersey and former Mayor of Newark. He is popular for his social media presence and various viral headlines, including the time he saved a woman from a house fire. However, he has long been associated with the financial services industry, which may not be popular among Democratic primary voters.
- Amy Klobuchar is a Senator from Minnesota, where she is extremely popular. She won reelection for a third term by 34% in 2018, in a state that Clinton only won by 1.5%. She’s super popular among people that know her, but the problem is that not many people know who she is.
- Deval Patrick is the former Massachusetts governor is a relatively-unknown candidate who’s been out of public office for over four years. Despite his lack of name recognition, he’s close friends with former President Obama and many of his former staffers are encouraging him to run.
- Sherrod Brown is a longtime senator from Ohio. The media began speculating about his potential candidacy after the midterms, when he was the only Democrat to win statewide in Ohio. He’s a progressive who focuses on economic issues. He’d be the ideal candidate for Democrats to try to win back white working-class voters than abandoned the party for Trump in 2016. However, the Democrats’ wins in 2018 were largely because of young voters, suburban women, and people of color, not the white working class.
Other Candidates to watch: Mitch Landrieu, Julian Castro, Jeff Merkley, Eric Garcetti, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Bob Casey
Great candidates that’ll never run: Michelle Obama, Oprah, Chris Murphy, Michael Bennett
People who shouldn’t run but are/might: Michael Bloomberg, Terry McAuliffe, Andrew Cuomo, Howard Schultz, Eric Holder, John Delaney, Richard Ojeda, Michael Avenatti, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Eric Swalwell, Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio, Al Sharpton, Tulsi Gabbard, Martin O’Malley, Tom Steyer, Tim Ryan, Peter Buttigieg, Adam Schiff, Mark Cuban