2020 Democrats: Who’s running; who has dropped out

It’s official: the race to see who will take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election is underway.

Trump long ago set his eyes on 2020. In February 2018, he named Brad Parscale, the head of the president’s 2016 campaign digital operation, as his campaign manager. As for the 2020 Democrats, a picture is beginning to form of who will be the most prominent people to try and secure the Democratic nomination for president.

And on the last day of 2018, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) became the first, announcing she was forming an exploratory committee for a 2020 run. Soon enough a number of prominent Democrats have followed, announcing their own bids for the presidency.

There are a number of things that can happen between now and the 2020 election, but here is a list of Democrats who have announced their presidential campaigns. It’s a very crowded field of people hoping to take on Trump.

Candidates are listed in order of polling by RealClearPolitics as of July 2019. 

2020 Democrats

2020 democratic candidates Mobilus in Mobili/Flickr (CC-BY-SA) ElizabethForMA/Flickr (CC-BY) Mobilus in Mobili/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

1) Former Vice President Joe Biden

democrats_2020 Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC-BY)

Former Vice President Joe Biden ended months of speculation that he would run for president, officially announcing his 2020 candidacy on April 25. Since then, he’s been leading most polls among voters, becoming the frontrunner.

Biden’s announcement video focused on Charlottesville, Virginia, both the home of Thomas Jefferson, and the site of a neo-Nazi rally in 2017.

Many Democrats were hoping Joe Biden would run in 2016, but he decided not to, following the death of his son, Beau.

Before Biden officially announced, he was beset by stories about his inappropriate behavior with women. In response, he released an awkward video promising to respect people’s space.

Biden will have to tackle questions about decisions made by former President Barack Obama’s administration, but that hasn’t hurt his polling numbers. Many Democrats appear to have a very favorable view of the former vice president and Delaware senator.

One poll by Public Policy Polling found that Biden would beat Trump in a hypothetical 2020 match-up by a 54-to-41 percent margin.


As the current frontrunner he’s taken heat from both President Donald Trump and other Democrats hoping to secure the 2020 nomination.

The president has called Biden “sleepy Joe,” among other things, on Twitter, and the two of them have an odd back-and-forth about physical feats including a fist fight, and a push-up contest.

Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker—both of whom are running for president—have publicly criticized Biden’s remarks he made about working with segregationist senators in the past.

Harris also called out the former vice president during the first Democratic debate, where she said it was “hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

2) Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

democrats_2020 Michael Vadon/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Sen. Bernie Sanders announced in mid-February 2019 that he would again seek the presidency. His surprising showing in the 2016 Democratic primary rocketed Sanders into the national consciousness, and he is arguably the most popular politician currently serving in office.

In an email to supporters on Feb. 19, Sanders touched on the policies that attracted a large number of supporters to him in 2016.

“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical’ and ‘extreme,'” the senator wrote, according to the New York Times. “Well, three years have come and gone. And, as result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans.”

In a video accompanying his announcement, the senator said his campaign was “about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.”

With the announcement, Sanders became one of the likely front runners in what has become an (already) crowded 2020 Democratic primary. However, there are some drawbacks. While his impressive ability to lure younger voters to his campaign is something any person vying for the Democratic 2020 nod is sure to try to replicate, there will always be the question of whether his policy agenda would actually work without Congress firmly on his side.

So far, Sanders has steadily stayed within the top tier of candidates among voters so far in the race. However, it is surprising that his campaign has not seemed to capture the same attention that his surprise run in 2016 did.


That being said, there is no denying that he has a large number of supporters and many people willing to donate to his campaign.

In early 2018, reports suggested that Sanders has begun talking to advisers about a 2020 election campaign. The discussions focused on other possible opponents in the 2020 primaries and how Sanders could defeat them. In mid-September rumors continued to swirl, with the Hill reporting that those close to Sanders expect him to make another bid for the White House.

The speculation of a 2020 bid reached a fever pitch in early 2019 when Yahoo News reported that Sanders feeling good about his primary chances after he was “heartened” by a poll that showed him as the top candidate choice among Black and Latino voters.

As the New York Times pointed out, Sanders also is not the only hard-left progressive candidate in the public sphere anymore, which could also dent his chances of making the same impact he did during the 2016 election.

3) Sen. Elizabeth Warren

democrats_2020 Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC-BY)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) became the first major name to throw their hat into the 2020 Democratic presidential ring in late December 2018, when she announced she had formed a presidential exploratory committee.

In a video, Warren focused on middle-class economics and her past as part of her announcement.

“America’s middle class is under attack,” she says. “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”

She added:

“Our government is supposed to work for all of us, but instead it has become a tool for the wealthy and well-connected. The whole scam is propped up by an echo chamber of fear and hate, designed to distract and divide us.”

Warren, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is trying to tap into the growing number of Democrats hoping for a more progressive candidate to challenge Trump’s hard-right base.

Since her announcement, the Massachusetts senator has unveiled an almost dizzying amount of policy proposals she’d hope to enact if elected president including: an overhaul of the U.S. election system, banning private prisons, a law to allow presidents to be indicted, legislation to protect Roe v. Wade, and a plan to cancel student debt, among others.

Warren is also an outspoken critic of Trump, which helped raise her profile among Democrats. She saw her profile skyrocket when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) silenced her as she was criticizing former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


At least one poll by Politico and Morning Consult found that Warren would beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup, with voters picking her 34 percent to 30 percent.

And when Warren released the results of a DNA test in October that showed she had Native American ancestry, it was seen as a direct rebuke to Trump, who has often referred to her mockingly about her heritage claims.

The test was seen by some people as a way to rebuff Trump’s attacks on her ancestry ahead of any potential White House matchup. However, it did lead to attacks from several Republicans.

So far, Warren’s push of policy proposals has seemed to please a large swath of Democrats, rocketing her into the top tier of choices among voters.

4) Sen. Kamala Harris

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Seen by many as a rising star in the Democratic Party, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced her bid for the Democratic nomination in early 2019.

In late January Harris made her first formal speech as part of her campaign in Oakland, California, where she touched on a number of progressive causes like women’s rights, Wall Street, and racial injustices, among other topics.

Her national profile was lifted earlier last year when she grilled former Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee amid the ongoing Russia probe. Harris also gained attention for her questioning of CIA Director Gina Haspel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

More recently, Harris’s intense questioning of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh also drew attention from liberals.

Specifically, Harris asked Kavanaugh if he knew of “any laws” that allowed the government to “make decisions about the male body,” to which the then-nominee responded: “I’m not thinking of any now, senator.”

She also asked Kavanaugh about net neutrality, an issue that is important to many Americans.


Since her announcement, Harris has been seen by many as one of the candidates to take seriously. With that backing, she also has not been afraid to call out other 2020 rivals, including Joe Biden.

As of late July, Harris was polling fourth among the 2020 Democrats, trailing Biden, Sanders, and Warren.

Harris also pledged not to accept donations from corporate political action committees, which could be a sign she would try and emulate Bernie Sanders’ success with small individual donations during the 2016 primary.

Harris is also relatively new to politics, which could dent her. Although that didn’t stop Obama from running—and eventually winning—the presidency. To say nothing of Trump.

5) Mayor Pete Buttigieg

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Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has become perhaps one of the most surprising people to draw attention early in the Democratic primary.

Buttigieg, a millennial, is an Afghanistan war veteran and has quickly become a center of attention in the early months of the 2020 nomination cycle. If he secures the nomination, the Indiana mayor would be the first openly gay Democrat to run for the nation’s highest office.

As of late July, Buttigieg was polling fifth among the 2020 candidates, trailing the much more high profile names of Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris.

Buttigieg has attracted some star power donors as well. Michael J. Fox, Kevin Bacon, John Stamos, Sharon Stone, George Takei, Mandy Moore, Jennifer Aniston, and Barbra Streisand have all donated to his campaign.

Perhaps adding to why he’s exploded onto the scene, the Indiana mayor has had several viral moments since entering the national spotlight—including a dig at Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of his state.


His past comments suggest Buttigieg aligns well with several liberal causes, including marijuana legalization, climate change, and gun reform. He also has come out in support of net neutrality.

In late July he announced an economic plan that would allow for gig economy employees to unionize.

While he was extremely unknown heading into the Democratic primaries, he seems to be striking a chord with some voters. Politico reported in early April that Buttigieg has raised more than $7 million.

6) Andrew Yang 

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Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur, has pushed a universal basic income policy that would give Americans $1,000 a month. 

His campaign has picked up some attention—with many people declaring they are part of the “Yang Gang”—eventually landing him in one of the two nights of the first Democratic Debate in June. 

Just ahead of the debate, Yang announced a contest for someone to become the third recipient of the “Freedom Dividend,” as he’s called the plan, where he tests out his UBI by giving the winner $1,000 a month. 

Besides Universal Basic Income, Yang has listed a staggering amount of policy positions on his website, so much so it’s gotten him grief online, like his plan to end male circumcision.

7) Sen. Cory Booker

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The New Jersey senator has had star-power for many years, even during his time as mayor of Newark (where he carried a woman out of a house fire).

Sen. Cory Booker announced in Feb. 2019 that he would be seeking the Democratic nomination heading into 2020. In a video announcement, Booker used the inspirational language that people have grown accustomed to hearing from him and spoke about American’s “common purpose.”

“It is not a matter of can we, it’s a matter of do we have the collective will, the American will?” he said. “I believe we do. Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose.”

Since that announcement, Booker has not pushed into the upper echelon of candidates, according to polls.

A Booker 2020 ticket would likely appease more center-left Democrats, but it remains to be seen how palatable he’d be to more progressive voters. While Booker does have ties to Wall Street, he has also been a major critic of Trump and outspoken proponent of criminal justice reform. He also supported other progressive causes, such as declassifying marijuana as a scheduled substance on the federal level.

Booker is also a talented public speaker and made a much-lauded speech during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. There were even rumors Clinton was considering him as a potential running mate in 2016 before she ultimately chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

When asked in mid-March about a possible 2020 run and the message Democrats need to send to voters, Booker seemed to hint at a possible strategy. “I’m saying this to Democrats who will listen to me—we can’t make our elections about being against Trump. They have to be about what we’re for,” Booker told the Atlantic.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also stoked the 2020 speculation when, during an argument about the release of documents amid the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, he admonished Booker, saying “running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate.”

In an interview with NYMag in September 2018, Booker made one his strongest statements regarding a 2020 run when he said it would be “irresponsible” not to consider making a run for president.

That was followed by Booker talking with political strategists in Iowa that worked for Clinton and Obama’s presidential campaigns, according to CNBC.

8) Sen. Amy Klobuchar

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While Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) doesn’t have the name recognition as some other lawmakers on this list, she certainly has a résumé that can compete. The Minnesota senator has served in Congress since 2007 and has high approval ratings.

On Feb. 10 Klobuchar announced her bid for the presidency during a snowy speech in Minnesota. During the speech she touched on her family history and announced a number of policy goals she hoped to focus on if elected. The issues included campaign finance reform, climate change, and digital privacy and net neutrality, among other topics.

“For too long the big tech companies have been telling you, don’t worry, we’ve got your back,” she said. “While your identities, in fact, are being stolen and your data is being mined. Our laws need to be as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them. We must revamp our nation’s cybersecurity and guarantee net neutrality for all. And we need to end the digital divide by pledging to connect every household to the internet by 2022, and that means you, rural America.”

In mid-June Klobuchar released a plan for what she hoped to accomplish in her hypothetical first 100 days in office that included raising the minimum wage, gun reform, investing in public education, and connecting every household to the internet by 2022, among other things.

Klobuchar is from the Midwest, an area that Democrats overlooked during the 2016 election and could have swayed the election in favor of Clinton.

The rumors of a possible 2020 bid for Klobuchar were fanned when she traveled to a Democratic fundraiser in Iowa—a frequent stop for politicians ahead of announcing their presidential bid.

Klobuchar was one of a number of Democrats who grilled Kavanaugh—and was the only one to directly reference net neutrality—which probably raised her profile among Democratic voters.

9) Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro

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Julian Castro, the former head of Housing and Urban Development, announced his presidential bid in Texas in early January.

“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for President of the United States of America,” he said.

Castro also took a shot at former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who in late January 2019, said he was considering running as a “centrist independent.” That move, Castro said, would boost the reelection chances of Trump.

As of late July, Castro was polling at 1 percent, according to Real Clear Politics. His performance in the debate was lauded, and he has risen in the polls, but he hasn’t quite yet catapulted into the national debate.

10) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

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Tulsi Gabbard, a representative from Hawaii, announced a presidential bid in January. When elected in 2012, she became the first Hindu and first American Samoan member of Congress with voting power, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran and has strong anti-intervention beliefs when it comes to foreign policy, which could appeal to some Democratic primary voters. She also backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election.

However, she has faced criticism about her 2017 meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and her past work with an anti-LGBTQ organization that backed conversion therapy

Gabbard apologized for her views on the LGBTQ community in a video posted on Twitter. And she spoke about it on the debate stage, saying Americans could hopefully understand being a kid in a “conservative” family.

However, the first stage of her presidential campaign has been bumpy. In late January, Politico reported that her 2020 campaign was blindsided by her announcement and major key staff members were already leaving.

In late July, Gabbard sued Google for $50 million for allegedly infringing on her constitutional rights. Gabbard asserts that her campaign was not able to buy ads for hours after the first Democratic presidential debate, when she was getting attention from potential voters.

11) Tom Steyer

tom steyer 2020 Tom Steyer/Twitter

Steyer, a billionaire who has pushed against Trump and his policies, was a late entry into the already-crowded 2020 field, entering the fray just as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) dropped out of the race in early July. 

The former hedge-fund executive has publicly pushed for Trump’s impeachment, including founding Need To Impeach, a group that has collected more than eight million signatures of people who support impeaching the president. 

In his four-minute announcement video, Steyer criticized the norms of American politics and the “system.” 

12) Former Rep. John Delaney

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Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) was the first candidate to officially announce their candidacy for 2020.

The congressman announced way back in July 2017 that he would be seeking the Democratic nomination, telling Business Insider that he thinks voters will be “open-minded and wants to do what’s best for their party and most importantly their country.”

Delaney is known as moderate as the Associated Press reported.

“I kind of view myself as sort of a long-distance swimmer, and I view this as a long race, and so, part of the challenge, obviously, in running for president, is to build the kind of name ID you need, so that you’re relevant when the race really starts,” he told the news outlet. “It’s a lot easier to build name recognition over a year and a half than it is across two months.”

As of April 2018, Delaney had spent more than $1 million on ads in Iowa and made 110 campaign stops in the state, according to Politico.

Delaney faced criticism in early June after he was booed at a California Democratic Party event after he said, “Medicare for All may sound good but it’s actually not good policy nor is it good politics.”

Axios reported in mid-July that staffers on Delaney’s campaign asked him to drop out of the race by mid-August, but he denied that report in an interview with Fox News.

13) Steve Bullock

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Bullock, the governor of Montana, was thought of as a possible 2020 candidate early in the speculation of potential candidates. The reason? He won his gubernatorial election in Montana, a state that Trump easily won during the 2016 presidential election. 

While that is intriguing—as any Democrat would have to flip some states to take back the White House in 2020—his campaign has not caught a lot of steam so far. 

Bullock was one of a handful of 2020 hopefuls who did not qualify for the first Democratic Debate. 

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Bullock criticized money in politics, specifically “dark money.” 

14) Marianne Williamson

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Marianne Williamson, a spiritual guru and author, launched her long-shot campaign in January to bring a “moral and spiritual awakening” to the country. 

Williamson previously ran for Congress to represent California’s 33rd District in 2014, but ultimately lost. However, her 2020 campaign has garnered enough support for her to be on stage for the first Democratic Debate. 

On her website, Williamson lists a number of policies she’d strive to enact as president, including creating a “Department of Peace.” 

After being left out of a Vogue photo of women running in the 2020 election, Williamson posted a Photoshopped version of it (with her placed on a painting in the background) in an Instagram slideshow. 

She also apparently really likes the movie Avatar

Not ranked) Seth Moulton 

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Seth Moulton, a congressman from Massachusetts, announced his candidacy in April, but was not able to get enough traction to make the stage for the first Democratic debate. 

On his website, Moulton lists a number of issues he is campaigning on, like healthcare, climate change, the economy. He is also planning an overhaul of America’s voting system including abolishing the electoral college, giving statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., and having automatic voter registration. 

In early July, Moulton cautioned his fellow 2020 hopefuls by saying that he thinks Trump is “going to be harder to beat than many Democrats like to believe,” and stressed that the Democratic slate of candidates needed to show voters a “positive vision for America with realistic plans for how we can achieve all of our goals.” 


In memoriam 

Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, Mike Gravel, Jay Inslee, Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Ryan, Beto O’Rourke, Michael Bennet, Joe Sestak

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).