BY STEPHEN ATKINSON
While there are still another two years before the Democrats officially face-off with President Trump, hopeful Democratic politicians are already hitting the road in early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Here’s a ranking of potential nominees for the Democratic party and how their chances stack up for primary season.
- Beto O’Rourke
He’s said he’s not running, he lost his Texas Senate race, and he’s relatively inexperienced. So don’t expect O’Rourke to make his presidential bid in 2020. However, if he for some reason did, his viral popularity could carry him far, and crazier things have happened.
9. Sherrod Brown
The gravelly-voiced Ohio senator has been one of the most liberal Democrats in recent years, but as 2020 hopefuls flock to the left, there will be less and less to distinguish him from the pack.
8. Julian Castro
After a rousing speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Castro was considered by many to be the party’s biggest rising star. Since then, he hasn’t generated much publicity at all, but as a young hispanic politician from Texas, Castro is still a sound option for Democrats looking for the anti-Trump.
7. Michael Bloomberg
This mega-billionaire and former New York City mayor has flirted with presidential runs many times before. His pro-business, socially liberal brand is unique in the Democratic field, which is good in a sense… but mostly bad. It’s hard to believe the same party that propelled Bernie Sanders to national prominence would elect a centrist who also happens to be the 11th wealthiest man in the world.
6. Cory Booker
A couple years ago Booker—a charismatic New Jersey senator—was labelled the next “rising star” of the party, but that title has since been overtaken by Kamala Harris. Booker aligns with the centrist “New Democrat” movement of politicians like Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, and that’s not where excitement in the party base lies. He even expressed staunch support for “private equity” in a 2012 interview that will likely haunt his nomination chances.
5. Amy Klobuchar
Despite her low name recognition, Amy Klobuchar is a very logical pick. In the midterm elections she won reelection in Minnesota by over twenty points. (Remember that Donald Trump’s shocking victory was largely due to his success in the midwest.) As a woman, a moderate, and a Rust Belt politician with an uncontroversial personality, a Klobuchar ticket could be the perfect concoction for a single-term Trump presidency. But is she exciting enough to win primary season? At this point, probably not.
4. Joe Biden
In a recent poll by CNN testing potential Democratic candidates, Biden came out on top by far, garnering 33% to second place Bernie Sanders’ 13%. It makes sense—he’s near-universally well-liked and well-known. But is a seventy-five-year-old politically moderate white man really what the Democratic party needs right now? And Joe Biden himself still seems unsure about running. He’s acknowledged that his age should be a factor voters consider, which doesn’t sound like the type of talk from a future nominee.
3. Bernie Sanders
It looks like #Feelthebern is fading. Based on the 2016 elections, Bernie Sanders should be the automatic favorite for the Democratic nomination, but his momentum is sliding. He’s old, white, and male. And while the Vermont senator’s progressive socialist message may be more inspiring to younger voters, there will likely be other more polished and diverse politicians who will compete for the same voting bloc, like Warren, Harris, Booker, and Gillibrand. If Sanders does find success, it’s through the message that, unlike many of his colleagues, he’s been devoted to the same policy stances for a whole lifetime.
2. Elizabeth Warren
After refusing pleas to run in 2016, Warren has kept herself in the news cycle; her active social media presence and openness to the press indicates she’s likely gearing up for a run in 2020. She’s an established member of the Democratic party’s progressive wing, which looks to be gaining the most momentum after the rise of Bernie Sanders. Plus, she’s a woman (a big advantage in the #Metoo era) and a polished public speaker, which could set her apart from ally Sanders.
1. Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris is the early favorite, but keep in mind: it’s still very early. At fifty-four, she’s relatively young. She’s a woman, a daughter of immigrants, a solid liberal, and a polished orator with a confident stage presence. That crosses off just about all the possible checkmarks Democrats are looking for. While her name recognition is lower than some of the veterans on this list, it has rapidly grown as her fiery Senate speeches and savvy tweets have gone viral. She still has some potential weaknesses—her time as a public prosecutor in California and her sudden (politically motivated?) shift to the left on many issues will certainly attract criticism—but overall, she maintains a slight advantage in what looks to be a very crowded 2020 field. So crowded, in fact, that who knows what surprises could be lurking outside of this list!