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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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) Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg 2020 CBS This Morning/YouTube

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.

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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.

5) Mike Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg 2020 Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, officially entered the 2020 fray in late November after months of back-and-forth as to whether he would do so. 

Bloomberg seems to be trying to capture a center-left block of voters and has started off his campaign with an aggressive ad buy. CNBC reports that during the first week of his campaign he’s spent $57 million in TV advertising. 

Since his announcement, Bloomberg has been getting criticism from the more left candidates in the race, particularly Sanders and Warren

Because he announced so late, Bloomberg will not be on the primary ballot in a number of early states including Iowa and New Hampshire, among others. 

6) Andrew Yang 

Andrew Yang 2020 Collision Conf/Flickr (CC-BY)

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. Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar 2020 Democrats Senate Democrats/Flickr (CC-BY)

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.

8) 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.” 

9) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

democrats_2020 AFGE/Flickr (CC-BY)

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.

Not ranked) Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet 2020 Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC-BY)

The 2020 Democratic hopeful lists include a number of senators. However, one with less clear star power also threw his hat into the ring: Michael Bennet of Colorado. 

Bennet has a reputation for being a more moderate Democrat. For example, instead of joining several other 2020 Democrats who have pushed for “Medicare For All,” Bennet told the New York Times he’d prefer to continue working on the Affordable Care Act, but add “a robust public option.” 

Bennet has come out against money in politics, including the Citizens United decision, and told WBUR that he would reverse “Donald Trump’s terrible tax bill.” 

Not ranked) Former Rep. John Delaney

democrats_2020 Edward Kimmel/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

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.

Not ranked) Deval Patrick 

Deval Patrick 2020 Deval For All/YouTube

Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, announced in mid-November that he would join the 2020 Democratic primary. 

Patrick got a tepid response from people following his announcement, with many lamenting that Patrick, an executive at Bain Capital, was making the field larger so late in the process. His campaign slogan is “Deval For All,” and on his website he lists the economy, fixing health care and immigration, and other issues as the core of his campaign. 

A recent poll from Morning Consult had Patrick polling at 0 percent. 

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In memoriam 

Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, Mike Gravel, Jay Inslee, Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Ryan, Beto O’Rourke, Joe Sestak, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Seth Moulton, Steve Bullock, Cory Booker, Marianne Williamson

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).