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2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates: A Long Fight With A Big Field?

3 Mins read
2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

If you check out the list of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, just blink and it will change.

This article, authored in March 2019, sees an abundant field of candidates already in place for the 2020 US presidential election. Thirteen notable ones, to be exact, with more on the way. From senators to governors to mayors and to motivational speakers, a number of Democrats have lined up to challenge Donald Trump for the prize. Your next presidential election candidates’ list is an ever-changing phenomenon. Hell, even some Republicans might get in on the action. To see the list of Democrats in the race now, we have a page for that.

2020 promises to be the most expensive race in US presidential elections history. Will a bruising primary change Democratic fortunes and help Donald Trump?

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates: Splitting the Vote

Without a doubt, this is a crowded Democratic field, and one where vote totals are going to be diluted. Earlier states with a fuller field could see some very diverse delegate counts going all over the place. Kamala Harris might get a couple in Iowa, so might Bernie Sanders, so might Joe Biden if he runs, but they probably won’t be alone. This far out, how the delegates will allocate specifically is impossible to know, but if there are 10 to 15 so-called major candidates, it stands to reason that someone could “win” the Iowa Caucuses with 20 or 25 percent of the vote, translating to few actual delegates.

This gets more interesting with the fact that the Democrats do not do winner-take-all states. There were none in 2016, and no indication that any are forthcoming in 2020.1 Ten Democratic candidates splitting the vote, maybe 15? Compare this to just a handful of Democrats in 2016, one of whom was considered a clear favorite. There is no favorite this time, anyway, but in a field this big, it’s wide open.

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates: Floor Fight?

Still, let’s not talk about a brokered 2020 Democratic Convention just yet. Sure, it could come down to the convention floor, but a lot of the names that you see on the board today, March 2, 2019, will not be on it in a year. Some will most likely drop out in 2019, and we would think those are the longshot contenders. We will let you determine for yourselves who those are. Others not performing well in the early states may wait until Super Tuesday to pull the plug. Those pledged delegates are released if they drop out of the race. So, will some candidates stay in past their presidential sell-by date in hopes they can make things interesting on the convention floor?

When it comes to the potential of a brokered convention, there is a reason it has not happened in over 40 years: neither party wants the headache. Not only that, but fields tend to be smaller than this, and the power brokers close ranks around a particular person to avoid such a thing. The convention is in essence a four-day party to celebrate the presidential nominee, and a four-day campaign ad. Not knowing who that person is makes their job of celebrating the nominee non-stop difficult.

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Look Back to 1976

The diluted 15-candidate Democratic field did not hurt Jimmy Carter in 1976, though there were variables in place then that are not now. Gerald Ford took over for the resigned Richard Nixon, and America was still mad over Watergate. Ford pardoned Nixon, an event over which we can discuss the long-term historical merits but in that day, it helped cost him the election. There was a political climate for change back then which Carter harvested. Today, there is a climate for change among some, but it is not universal. Donald Trump happens to be on the ballot this time, and he has his reliable base of support.

Some “ABC” Democrats tried to stop Jimmy Carter in 1976, who had good luck with early states and was strong in the South and Midwest. By then, however, enough voters rallied behind Carter that it was too late. Could something similar happen in 2020 with one particular candidate and the rest ganging up on him or her?

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Have A Long Battle Ahead

While the 2020 Democratic field is rather plump now, and only about to get bigger these next few months, the attrition is going to come. From whom, we do not know, nor when. The sheer reality is that not all of these candidates will gain traction. Some will not make it off the runway, so to speak.

Eventually, the voters will thin the herd on their own, but with this many candidates, and superdelegates not voting in the first round, will anyone get a majority on the first ballot?2 This is a question that cannot be credibly answered in the first quarter of 2019. We might not even be able to answer it in the first quarter of 2020. If the Democrats do not rally behind a particular candidate, however, things could get quite interesting for their party in this unfolding campaign.


1: Which States Have Winner-Take-All Primaries Or Caucuses? Some Big Ones Are On The Horizon (Bustle, March 9, 2016)

2: DNC Votes To Largely Strip ‘Superdelegates’ Of Presidential Nominating Power (NPR, August 25, 2018)

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