The Democrat presidential field for 2020 is already getting packed with big names. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have all put their hats into the proverbial bring. Add into that, Julian Castro, Peter Delaney, Petter Buttgieg, and Tusli Gabbard and it’s already a very full field. Kamala Harris has already done a 90 minute town hall on CNN addressing a variety of issues and generating massive amounts of press. Despite announcing after Elizabeth Warren and Gillibrand, she’s sucked all the air out of the room right now. Right now, she is the story of the 2020 democrat nomination.
An interesting entry into this field is Tulsi Gabbard. She is a Representative from Hawaii who is a bit of a new face to national politics. Launching a presidential campaign without national name recognition is very difficult. She has a nice background in the national guard and she is a woman of color and from an unlikely state but our view is that without some major funding and some opportunities to get national attention, her candidacy is simply dead on arrival. However, she might make a great VP pick.
No Clear Candidate
There are still more names waiting in the wings that are suspected but haven’t formally announced. Joe Biden is reportedly contemplating a 3rd run (he ran in 1988 and 2008) and many Sanders supporters are waiting for the official word from the Senator from Vermont. There’s no clear front-runner right now and there really shouldn’t be, we’re still several months away from early contests in New Hampshire and Iowa. However, with this many high profile candidates, there’s no telling where the energy and the fundraising dollars are going to gather.
The big worry with all these big name presidential candidates is that the whole base of the Democrat party, emboldened by wins in 2018 will simply fracture. As different people back different candidates, it’s going to be very tough to bring the party together. As we saw, in 2016, people would rather stay home than vote for the candidate people chose. Will the Sanders supporters stay home if he isn’t the nominee? Will any of these candidates be able to synthesize the various messages of Harris, Warren, and Booker into one cohesive whole? Then there’s the problem of electability.
Who Can Beat Trump?
The big question looming over all the Democrat candidates is who can really beat Donald Trump. It’s no secret that Donald Trump is deeply unpopular with Democrats and his popularity since the shutdown has plummeted even further. Electability has already come up in the Harris town hall and it is plaguing candidates who haven’t even announced yet like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Electability is a difficult think to measure. Voters vote on a variety of factors, some trackable and others that don’t really make the polling data. A single gaffe can turn someone from front-runner to dead-candidate-walking. However, we live in a new political paradigm where identity politics and other factors can pit voters against a candidate before they have even heard them on the issues that matter to them. Some people, seeing the flight of voters away from Hillary Clinton in 2016 claim that only a straight, white, male can be electable in 2020. Harris pushed back strongly at the suggestion saying, “….no one should entertain that kind of conversation.” But who can really beat Trump?
There Are Already Too Many
It’s nice to have choices in life. However, with less than 2 years from the general and still 9 months before the first primary, the field is already packed with a variety of people and in the opinion of this writer, there are already too many big name democrats on the field. Just one of these candidates and some other minor players would be alright but the fundraising dollars and the party consensus are going to be deeply divided heading into those early contests. This is going to be an expensive and messy process that may leave many Democrat voters disillusioned with the outcome. Meanwhile, Trump will continue rolling into an easy nomination from the GOP and he will no doubt be campaigning via Twitter against all these candidates creating news stories and shaping a narrative that is bound to leave any Democrat damaged going into the General Election. The best outcome? Some of these big names simply need to drop out and start gathering behind a candidate that is can take on the Donald Trump machine. Trump will still be more powerful than many Democrats believe. If Democrats are serious about winning in 2020, some of these big names will take a back seat.