Category Archives: 2020 Democratic Primary

What The Potential 2020 Candidates Are Doing And Saying, Vol. 12

Welcome to a weekly collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and ABC News. With 5,000 people seemingly thinking about challenging President Trump in 2020 — Democrats and even some Republicans — we’re keeping tabs on the field as it develops. Each week, we’ll run through what the potential candidates are up to — who’s getting closer to officially jumping in the ring and who’s getting further away.

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday its first presidential primary debates will be held in Miami, Florida on June 26 and 27, which is less than three months away, but the presidential field is still far from set.
Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam entered the race this week, inching the primary field count closer to 20 candidates. And with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Tim Ryan (among others) discussing possible runs, it may not be long before the group tops 20. If that happens, that could pose serious problems for the DNC and the thresholds it set for its initial primary debates. The party has currently capped the number of debate participants to 20 and said in February that if more than 20 candidates met this criteria, they would give preference to candidates who cleared both the polling and fundraising thresholds, and if that was still too many people, they would include candidates with the highest polling averages.
Here’s the weekly candidate roundup:
Mar. 22-28, 2019
Stacey Abrams (D)
In an interview on “The View” Wednesday, Abrams responded to reports that Biden was interested in naming her as his running mate as he reportedly prepares to mount a presidential bid.
“I think you don’t run for second place,” the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate said, adding, “If I’m going to enter a primary, I’m going to enter the primary.”
From ABC News:

Abrams said she still has not reached a final decision about her political future, but is “thinking about everything,” including presidential and Senate campaigns.
Michael Bennet (D)
The Colorado senator told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday that he’s “very inclined” to run for president in 2020.
“We’re looking at it and I think … the American people need somebody who’s going to run and tell them the truth in 2020,” Bennet said. “We can’t get anything done around here if we continue to do what we’ve been doing here for the last 10 years, it’s not just since Trump arrived.”
Joe Biden (D)
CNBC reported Wednesday that a Biden presidential announcement could come as late as the end of April, citing those familiar with his plans.
The former vice president also attracted attention for expressing regret over his handling of the 1991 Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, during which Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment. “To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved,” he said, during remarks at the Biden Courage Awards in New York Tuesday, honoring students who have worked to prevent sexual assault.
From ABC News:

Cory Booker (D)
A CNN town hall in South Carolina on Wednesday touched on a number of Booker’s campaign priorities, including criminal justice reform and the rising costs of health care.
The New Jersey senator said he would “absolutely” consider issuing mass pardons for those convicted of marijuana-related crimes, noting that “there is no difference in America between using and even selling marijuana between blacks and whites, but if you’re African-American in this country, you’re almost four times more likely to be arrested for that.”
Booker also somewhat broke from his past support of the pharmaceutical industry — which is particularly prominent in his home state — by pledging not to take money from industry executives and PACs.

Pete Buttigieg (D)
Buttigieg had a relatively strong performance in a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, polling at 4 percent,which tied him with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and vaulted him into an upper-tier of candidates where in a crowded field capturing more than 1 percent support is hard..
Sports fans who have noticed the resemblance between Buttigieg and Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens got a kick out of Stevens expressing his admiration for the South Bend mayor and noting he has “followed him pretty close.”
“I’ll be real candid, I love a lot of his platforms. I’m a big fan of his,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston. “I haven’t endorsed anyone yet, I don’t get into the political stuff too much, but he’s a hard one for me to root against. He’s also rising pretty quickly.”
Julian Castro (D)
Castro called President Trump’s claim that the GOP would soon be known as “the party of health care” by calling the declaration “stunning.”
“This administration is going completely against the will of the people; going against the will of Congress, and trying to pull the rug out from under millions and millions of American families,” he said on CNN Tuesday.
John Delaney (D)
The former Maryland congressman said in response to Barr’s letter to Congress, which summarized the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that “as an American” he was glad “on some level … that the President of the United States was not indicted for colluding with a foreign power.”
“I was happy that the report is over because I think we’ve spent way too much time talking about this, and obviously I think every American on some level should be happy with the headline results,” Delaney said on Fox News Wednesday.
Tulsi Gabbard (D)
While acknowledging she supported Mueller being given the opportunity to complete his investigation without interference, Gabbard tweeted Monday that Americans now needed to “set aside our partisan interests and recognize that finding the President of the United States not guilty… is a good thing” for the country.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Gillibrand became the first candidate to release her 2018 tax returns Wednesday, revealing that she earned roughly $218,000 and paid nearly $30,000 in taxes. The New York senator further called on her fellow candidates to follow suit. Elizabeth Warren’s website includes 10 years of tax returns but her 2018 form has yet to be posted.
In her first major event since officially joining the race, Gillibrand spoke outside of Trump International Hotel in New York last weekend, where she called the president a “coward” and said she has “stood up against Donald Trump more than anyone in the Senate.”
From ABC News:

Kamala Harris (D)
On Tuesday, Harris rolled out a plan to invest federal money in raising teacher salaries across the nation, promising an average increase of $13,500, plus additional funding for educator training programs.
From ABC News:

“Our country’s success is a product of the two groups who raise our children: parents and teachers. We are not paying our teachers their value,” the California senator said in a statement. “Teachers should not have to work two or three jobs to pay the bills.”
John Hickenlooper (D)
In a Washington Post op-ed, the former Colorado governor said he supports “the concept of a Green New Deal,” but that the much publicized proposal put forth by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. “sets unachievable goals.”
“We do not yet have the technology needed to reach ‘net-zero greenhouse gas emissions’ in 10 years. That’s why many wind and solar companies don’t support it,” Hickenlooper writes. “There is no clean substitute for jet fuel. Electric vehicles are growing quickly, yet are still in their infancy.”
“Amid this technological innovation, we need to ensure that energy is not only clean but also affordable,” he continues.
Amy Klobuchar (D)
The Minnesota senator announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan Thursday, focused on repairing and replacing roads, highways and bridges; expanding public transportation; increasing internet access; rebuilding schools; and modernizing airports and seaports, among other initiatives.
“This plan is about bringing our country together,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Building bridges is not just a metaphor — this is what I’ve done and what I will continue to do as president. ”
Terry McAuliffe (D)
CNN reported Wednesday that McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, is leaning toward entering the presidential race, citing Democrats close to him as sources.
McAuliffe has long said that he is considering a campaign, but numerous outlets have previously reported that the former governor’s decision could be influenced by Biden’s deliberations.
Wayne Messam (D)
The relatively unknown mayor of Miramar, Florida officially entered the race Thursday morning with a video detailing his background as the son of Jamaican immigrants who earned a football scholarship before starting a construction business and entering local politics.
In an interview with CNN, Messam touted his outsider status as an advantage in the crowded field of Washington politicians.
“I see it to be a unique opportunity for Americans to look at another option of leadership,” he said, adding “When you look at a mayor, Americans see mayors favorably. We are at the front line of what Americans are dealing with every day.”
Seth Moulton (D)
The Massachusetts congressman, who is still considering a presidential campaign, issued an electoral reform plan Thursday, which included things like expanding automatic voter registration, granting Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. statehood, and making Election Day a national holiday, CNN reported.
Beto O’Rourke (D)
After a quiet week following his whirlwind first days on the campaign trail, O’Rourke will hold a trio of kick-off rallies in El Paso, Houston and Austin, Texas Saturday.
The Texas congressman finished third in a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, garnering support of 12 percent of respondents, trailing only Biden and Bernie Sanders, who have consistently finished first and second in early primary polls.
Tim Ryan (D)
Ryan continues to deliberate over a presidential run, but he acknowledged this week he could join the field soon.
“In the next few weeks definitely got to pull the trigger one way or the other, got to make a decision,” Ryan told the Youngstown Vindicator Monday, while adding he was concerned he was not hearing enough about “jobs, health care and pensions” from the current candidates.
The Ohio congressman will visit Iowa Saturday for the Iowa Farmers Union “Heartland Forum.”
Bernie Sanders (D)
The Vermont senator told MSNBC Tuesday that he does not support “incremental reform” to improve the Affordable Care Act, only his “Medicare-for-All single payer program” and argued for the complete elimination of private insurance.
In a column in the Des Moines Register, Sanders pledged to support Iowan farmers and take on corporate agribusinesses, writing that farmers have “been systematically stripped of their ability to control their own futures and no longer know whether their hard work will earn them future success and stability.”
“When we are in the White House, we are going to strengthen antitrust laws that defend farmers from the corporate middlemen that stand between the food grower and the consumer, and have now become so big and powerful that they can squeeze farmers for everything they’re worth,” Sanders wrote.
From ABC News:

Elizabeth Warren (D)
Much like her crusade against some of the country’s largest tech companies, Warren is also proposing that large agriculture businesses be broken up, writing in a blog post Wednesday that “we must address consolidation in the agriculture sector, which is leaving family farmers with fewer choices, thinner margins, and less independence.”
Northeast corridor travelers felt kinship with the Massachusetts senator earlier in the week when, in a viral moment, TMZ captured her running to New York’s Penn Station to catch a train.
Bill Weld (R)
The former Massachusetts governor and Libertarian vice-presidential candidate, who established a presidential exploratory committee in February, said during a radio interview Monday that he’ll reach a final decision on a primary challenge of President Trump by April.
“I’m leaning towards doing it unless something changes, and set myself an informal deadline of the month of April to pull the trigger,” he later told reporters in New Hampshire.


Is Pete Buttigieg’s Surge Real Or A Mirage?

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would be the first openly gay president, is the “hottest candidate in the 2020 race right now,” according to CNN. If you believe The New York Times, he’s more popular in New York than the city’s own mayor, who is also reportedly mulling a presidential run. And the Associated Press reported that the crowds at Buttigieg’s campaign events in South Carolina were so large and loud that they threw him off his stump speech.
At first, I suspected that the “Buttigieg bump” was overblown — that the media was getting more interested in him, but actual voters mostly were not. But there’s actually good reason to believe that the interest in Buttigieg is pretty organic. He appears to have generated a lot of Google search interest relative to his media coverage and has attracted plenty of small donors. Buttigieg’s campaign said that in the 24 hours after his well-received performance in a CNN town hall on March 10, he raised about $600,000. A few days later, Buttigieg announced he had received donations from at least 65,000 people, which is one of the qualifications for getting invited to the first two Democratic primary debates. And his campaign said in an email to supporters on Monday that it had raised half a million dollars in each of two separate 24-hour periods last week.
The splashiest data point in support of the Buttigieg bump is an Emerson College poll conducted March 21-24 that gave him 11 percent of the vote in Iowa, putting him in third place there. This marks a sizable gain for “Mayor Pete,” as he had gotten 0 percent support in the pollster’s January survey. However, there is reason to be skeptical of Buttigieg’s impressive new number. For more than half of the respondents, Emerson didn’t randomize the order of the 14 candidates it asked about, which meant Buttigieg was always the first option. That matters because candidates listed first do have an advantage; ever been tempted to just press 1 in those overly long customer-service phone menus? That might have happened here for the 142 Democrats who took the poll by phone. (Another 107 took the poll online, where the choices were randomized.) The poll also had a small overall sample size (249 Democratic respondents) and high margin of error (+/-6.2 percentage points) — two more reasons to treat it with a grain of salt.
As it stands right now, no other pollster has shown anywhere near this kind of climb. For example, there is evidence of a Buttigieg bump in Morning Consult’s weekly polls of the national Democratic electorate, but it’s not nearly as big (and among respondents who live in early primary states,18 there was no bump at all). In Morning Consult’s poll conducted March 4-10, just 38 percent of respondents nationwide had heard of Buttigieg. In the most recent poll, conducted March 18-24, 45 percent had. That was one of the biggest increases in name recognition of any candidate. Yet at the same time, Buttigieg only increased his national vote share in the horse-race portion of the poll from 1 percent to 2 percent. (Among respondents in early primary states, he stayed steady at 1 percent.) And most other pollsters have yet to register a Buttigieg bump at all. In a pair of high-quality national polls conducted after his town hall — one by CNN and the other by FOX News — Buttigieg registered at just 1 percent. A Quinnipiac poll released this morning found Buttigieg tied with Elizabeth Warren for fifth place, both polling at 4 percent. But we don’t have a previous Quinnipiac poll to compare it to.
Overall, there is some evidence that Buttigieg may be breaking out with some Democratic voters, but it’s easy to overstate his momentum. Remember: You Google a person because you want to learn more about them, not necessarily because you’re already sold on voting for them. And as most polls show us, Buttigieg still has a long way to go before he’s vying with the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders for the overall lead.
From ABC News:

UPDATE (March 28, 2019, 8 a.m.): This article has been updated to add a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday morning.


What The Potential 2020 Candidates Are Doing And Saying, Vol. 3

Welcome to a weekly collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and ABC News. With 5,000 people seemingly thinking about challenging President Trump in 2020 — Democrats and even some Republicans — we’re keeping tabs on the field as it develops. Each week, we’ll run through what the potential candidates are up to — who’s getting closer to officially jumping in the ring and who’s getting further away.
This week, the presidential field grew more diverse with the entrance of Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Harris — who was born to an Indian mother and Jamaican father — announced her presidential campaign on “Good Morning America,” and Buttigieg — who could make history as the nation’s first openly gay presidential nominee of a major party — posted video about his forming an exploratory committee on Wednesday.
They join a growing and diverse field of Democratic hopefuls, a group that could prove too large for a single debate at the first opportunity in June. Anticipating a crowded field, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez revealed in December that the DNC would set thresholds, including polling and fundraising targets, to pare down the first group of candidates and then “draw lots,” should the group still be too large. The DNC has yet to reveal specific targets for those thresholds, but some figures are already clearly aiming for one of the coveted spots.
Jan. 18-24, 2019
Michael Bennet (D)
The Colorado senator attracted attention Thursday when he criticized Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Bennet labeled Cruz’s current government shutdown-related concerns “crocodile tears” and reminded Cruz of actions that led to a 2013 shutdown while Bennet’s home state was dealing with flooding.
Asked on MSNBC Thursday afternoon whether he was running for president, Bennet said he was “thinking about it … like every other person in [the Senate.]”
Joe Biden (D)
At a National Action Network Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Washington, Biden said that white Americans need to acknowledge and admit that systemic racism exists and must be rooted out.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that in a paid speech given by Biden in Michigan in October, the former vice president praised Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who then went on to defeat his Democratic opponent. The remarks were criticized by local Democrats, who saw it as a damaging error, according to the Times report. On Friday, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Biden defended the speech, explaining that he was proud of Upton’s work on a cancer research funding bill and argued that not everything should be viewed through the lens of partisanship.
Michael Bloomberg (D)
Bloomberg spoke at a National Action Network Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Washington on Monday, during which he joked that he would ask former Vice President Joe Biden, who was also in attendance, for tips on living in Washington. He added, of himself and Biden: “I know we’ll both keep our eyes on the real prize, and that is electing a Democrat to the White House in 2020 and getting our country back on track.”
The former New York City mayor faced criticism from Democrats this week after defending the use of stop-and-frisk policing during a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Tuesday and labeling efforts to legalize marijuana “perhaps the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.”
Cory Booker (D)
The New Jersey senator spoke at a South Carolina statehouse rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day after brief stops over the weekend in Louisiana and Georgia. In Georgia, Booker met with former President Jimmy Carter, and the pair appeared in an Instagram Live video together. “I’m very glad to have you here this morning, and I hope you come back,” Carter said to Booker. “And I hope you run for president.”
Sherrod Brown (D)
On Wednesday, Brown told MSNBC that he continues to “very seriously” consider a presidential campaign. As has been the case in past interviews on the subject, the Ohio senator referred to the importance of Democrats competing in the center of the country and a focus on employment and job conditions.
“To win Ohio, to win the industrial Midwest, the heartland, and the Electoral College, you’ve got to speak to the progressive base, to be sure, as I have my whole career, but you’ve got to talk to workers and live where they live,” he said. He later echoed the sentiment on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” where he said his party can’t choose between progressives and workers, but represent both groups.
Brown kicks off his “Dignity of Work” tour in Cleveland on Wednesday. It will be followed by a visit to Iowa on Thursday.
Pete Buttigieg (D)
Buttigieg announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee Wednesday. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, explained that he felt it was time for a generational shift in the nation’s leadership. “I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now,” Buttigieg said in a video announcing the committee. “We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11. And we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different.”
Asked Wednesday by KCBS about potential concerns about his youth and experience, Buttigieg said his two terms as mayor and service in the Navy were more executive and military experience than President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have.
Julian Castro (D)
Castro spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day in San Antonio, where he took part in the city’s parade, marching alongside his brother U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.
An adviser to Castro told The Daily Beast that the former housing and urban development secretary’s campaign already formulated workplace harassment policies and that it would support unionization among its staffers, should they decide to do so.
John Delaney (D)
Delaney spent last weekend in New Hampshire at multiple meet-and-greet events and attended the Concord Women’s March. After speaking with reporters and editors at the Nashua Telegraph last Friday, the newspaper’s editorial board described the former Maryland congressman as “somewhat impressive.”
Tulsi Gabbard (D)
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Gabbard said she did not regret her 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, arguing that it is “very important for any leader in this country to be willing to meet with others, whether they be friends or adversaries or potential adversaries if we are serious about the pursuit of peace and securing our country.”
Eric Garcetti (D)
Garcetti helped facilitate negotiations in the Los Angeles teacher strike, which ended in a deal that the mayor called “a historic agreement.”
Jeff Flake (R)
At a Vanderbilt University panel, Flake criticized the Republican Party for moving away from “traditional conservatism.” He also said: “The Trump base is very real, very solid, but politically it’s just not large enough to carry ahead. I say that’s a good thing.”
Despite his differences with the president, Flake said, “I hope we don’t go through an impeachment process because of what it does to a divided public.”
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
In her first week since the announcement of her presidential exploratory committee, Gillibrand visited Iowa, where she addressed the Des Moines Women’s March on Saturday. The New York senator addressed allegations of anti-Semitism against two of the Women’s March leaders, saying that there was “no room for anti-Semitism” in the movement and that the movement is empowered when everyone lifts each other.
At additional stops across Iowa, Gillibrand explained the moderate positions dotting her past, including her former defense of the Second Amendment: “I had only really looked at guns through the lens of hunting. My mom still shoots the Thanksgiving turkey.” She later noted that the NRA now gives her an “F” rating.
On Monday, Gillibrand spoke at the National Action Network’s King Day Public Policy Forum in New York, invoking the Bible as she discussed “speak[ing] truth to power,” in a moment that the organization’s founder Al Sharpton characterized as “preaching.”
Kamala Harris (D)
The California senator was in New York on Monday to announce that she is running for president. She said that she feels “a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are” and that she’s confident in her “ability to lead” and “listen and to work on behalf of the American public.” She then grabbed a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich before heading to Washington, where she answered questions from reporters at her alma mater, Howard University.
In the 24 hours after her announcement, aides to Harris told ABC News that her campaign raised $1.5 million from 38,000 donors.
The California senator hits the campaign trail starting Friday in South Carolina to speak at an event held by a local chapter of her sorority. On Sunday, Harris will hold a campaign launch event in Oakland. On Monday, she’ll participate in a CNN townhall in Iowa.
John Hickenlooper (D)
On Sunday, the former Colorado governor is visiting Iowa for a stop at a house party and a local brewery, one of his advisers told ABC News. On Tuesday, he told CNN that he would decide whether to run for president by March and that he could separate himself for the field by sharing his bipartisan record.
“I’m probably one of the few, if not the only candidate, who’s actually been able to bring people together who were in conflict — they were feuding — and get them to put down their weapons, take the time to hear each other and then actually achieve progressive goals through their willingness to work together and create a compromise,” Hickenlooper said.
Jay Inslee (D)
The Washington governor visited New Hampshire on Tuesday to speak with students at Dartmouth and Saint Anselm colleges. He spent much of his time talking about climate change, an issue he claimed wasn’t being highlighted by other possible presidential nominees. “Here’s an existential threat to the United States, and they do their rollouts and the words ‘climate change’ don’t appear,” he said.
Inslee also told The Associated Press that he’s been emailing with the billionaire Tom Steyer, a fellow environmentalist. Steyer recently passed on a presidential run of his own and has not yet committed to supporting another candidate.
John Kasich (R)
During a question-and-answer session at the University of Florida on Wednesday, Kasich repeated a position that he’s shared before when asked about a potential 2020 run: “If I can’t win, I’m not going to do it.”
The former Ohio governor wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He decried the political division that led to the ongoing government shutdown and called upon Americans to take personal action to better their communities. “Instead of sitting around worrying about what’s broken and not working in Washington, we’ve got to get off the couch and figure out what we can do by ourselves — right here at home, where we live,” he wrote. “Volunteer at the food bank. Engage with your schools if something needs to be fixed. Drop in on a neighbor who has no one else to listen. The opportunities are there, but we need to grasp them. That’s the cure for the breakdown in Washington.”
John Kerry (D)
Asked during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, if he had any message for Trump, Kerry answered that he should “resign.”
Amy Klobuchar (D)
Klobuchar delivered last week’s weekly Democratic address, criticizing Trump for “holding the hardworking people of America hostage by requiring them to pay ransom to reopen their government,” referring to Trump’s insistence on the inclusion of border wall funding in any appropriations bill to end the government shutdown.
Mitch Landrieu (D)
On Wednesday, Landrieu spoke to MSNBC about the government shutdown, saying that “the president is way stuck on stupid right now.”
“There is no mayor in America in his right mind, or her right mind, that would ever think about shutting down the government,” the former New Orleans mayor said. “This is why the people of America are really frustrated with Washington.”
Terry McAuliffe (D)
Though he didn’t definitively commit to the race, McAuliffe told the New York Posts’s Page Six of a presidential run: “It’s not easy — but I’m a heck of a fighter.”
The Associated Press dug into spending by McAuliffe’s PAC — named “Common Ground” — and found that it raised over $300,000 in the second half of 2018 and spent money on donations to the state Democratic parties of New Hampshire and Iowa — expenditures that a spokesperson said were not related to a presidential campaign. “Funds from Common Good were used to support governor candidates and state parties across the country who share Governor McAuliffe’s values,” McAuliffe spokeswoman Crystal Carson told the AP, adding that the PAC is closing.
Jeff Merkley (D)
In an interview with The Associated Press, Merkley said he would decide on a presidential run before the end of April.
Beto O’Rourke (D)
O’Rourke continued his tour of the American heartland, visiting Kansas and Colorado this week and blogging about it — to some mockery — along the way.
The New York Times reported Saturday that some Democrats were perturbed by O’Rourke’s individualistic style and his lukewarm embrace of fellow Texas Democrat Gina Ortiz-Jones during the midterms.
Mother Jones dug up a video of O’Rourke covering The Ramones in a onesie and a sheep mask.
Bernie Sanders (D)
Sanders spoke at a rally at South Carolina’s statehouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and remained in the Palmetto State for three additional events on Tuesday. During a NAACP forum, he said of a presidential campaign, “I’m going to look at it; I’m going to assess it.”
In a GQ profile Thursday, Sanders detailed what he felt his 2016 presidential campaign was able to achieve, even without capturing the Democratic nomination. “We have had more success in ideologically changing the party than I would have dreamed possible,” he said. “The world has changed.”
Howard Schultz (D)
Advisers to the former Starbucks CEO are probing the possibility of an independent presidential campaign, The Washington Post reported last Friday, citing two sources with knowledge of the conversations. CNN matched the story Monday, quoting a source who said Schultz is “thinking deeply about his future and how he can best serve the country.”
Eric Swalwell (D)
Swalwell visited South Carolina on Saturday to speak at the Greenville Women’s March and a gala for the Spartanburg County Democratic Party. During the day, he told the Spartanburg Herald Journal that he is “getting close to deciding” about a presidential run and discussed the role that the state will play in deciding the Democratic nominee. “Any presidential contender better come through Spartanburg County if they are going to be in the White House,” he said. “It’s a steep mountain to climb for a Democrat in South Carolina since the state is mostly Republican.”
Elizabeth Warren (D)
Though still only in the exploratory committee phase, Warren continues to travel. She held an organizing event in New Hampshire last Friday, attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Day memorial breakfast in Boston on Monday, visited Puerto Rico for a “community conversation” Tuesday, and visited South Carolina for another organizing event Wednesday. On Friday, Warren stops in Las Vegas for an additional organizing event.
The Massachusetts senator was asked about the state of the presidential race in a CNN interview Tuesday, demurring when questioned whether she was “too far to the left.”
“I’m out talking about the economic issues, about how government works, about what’s happening to middle class families, working families, all across this country — why the path has gotten rockier and rockier,” Warren said. “This is what I’ve worked on all of my life. I’m delighted that there are lots of Democrats who want to talk about ideas, who want to talk about a way to build a stronger America; I believe in that.”
Andrew Yang (D)
Yang, an entrepreneur, was interviewed by Rolling Stone this week about his under-the-radar campaign, and he explained why he was running for president. “I was stunned when I saw the disparities between Detroit and San Francisco or Cleveland and Manhattan,” he said. “You feel like you’re traveling across dimensions and decades and not just a couple of time zones. None of our political leaders are willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room that is tearing our communities apart, in the form of technological change.”
He also outlined a key component of his platform: a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for all Americans 18 and older that would be funded by a value-added tax. “If you have a town in Missouri with 50,000 adults and they’re all getting $1,000 a month, that’s another $50 million in purchasing power that comes right into that town’s local economy — into car repairs, tutoring or food for your kids, the occasional night out, home repairs,” he said. “And that money ends up circulating all through that town.”


How Tulsi Gabbard Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has had an unconventional political career. When first elected in 2012, she became the first Hindu and first American Samoan voting member of Congress. Before that, she was the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaii Legislature but left it behind to deploy to Iraq with the Army National Guard. She is a progressive favorite with a conservative record. She grew up in a mixed-race, mixed-religion12 household that preached both vegetarianism and homophobia.
Now, Gabbard is launching a long-shot campaign for president of the United States, although she still hasn’t made her promised formal announcement. She has little name recognition outside Hawaii, and at age 37, she is only just constitutionally eligible to sit behind the Resolute desk. Fittingly, if she wants to win the Democratic nomination, she’s going to have to follow an unconventional path to get there.
First, it’s very hard to become president — or even get nominated for the job — if the top line on your résumé is U.S. representative. I count 10 such candidates who have run for president in either the Republican or Democratic primary since 2000.13 None finished higher than third place. John W. Davis, in 1924, was the last major-party presidential nominee whose highest previous elected office was the U.S. House.14 The last — and only — sitting U.S. representative to be elected president was James A. Garfield in 1880. It’s hard to stand out when you’re just one of hundreds of legislators, and Gabbard is no exception. Pollsters didn’t ask about Gabbard in a single poll between Election Day 2018 and her announcement earlier this month, a sign that she hadn’t yet made a splash in the invisible primary. And in three national polls released on Tuesday, she registered no higher than 2 percent (3 percent if you limit the field to only the candidates who have announced thus far).
That doesn’t mean Gabbard can’t build a core of support from scratch. She is undeniably a very talented politician, as observers of Hawaii politics can attest. When she first ran for Congress in 2012, she trailed the primary front-runner, the well-known former mayor of Honolulu, by 45 points in early polling, but she wound up defeating him by 21 points. According to the most recent Honolulu Civil Beat poll, she is now Hawaii’s most popular elected official, with a 61 percent positive and 24 percent negative rating. She won her 2018 general election with a whopping 77 percent of the vote, albeit in a very blue district.
Gabbard’s brand in Hawaii is strong thanks in part to her unique combination of identities. As her website puts it, “As a mixed-race woman, combat veteran, martial artist, lifelong vegetarian, and practicing Hindu, she also is the embodiment of the type of diversity which is at the very heart of what America was founded upon.” However, it’s not clear that what helps her in Hawaii will help her in a nationwide primary. The U.S. has a smaller share of Pacific Islander and military voters than Hawaii does, for instance. Her youth and gender look like they could be electoral strengths, at least on the surface: We estimate that around 30 percent of the 2020 Democratic primary electorate will be millennials — a group that Gabbard, having been born in 1981, can uniquely appeal to. And there is evidence from 2018 that Democratic primary voters are going out of their way to vote for women in the Trump era. But on the flip side, it’s naive to assume Gabbard won’t face at least some ageism and sexism in how she’s perceived and covered.
Most likely, though, none of these factors will be as important as Gabbard’s ability to appeal to the left wing of the party. According to Chad Blair, a reporter and editor at Civil Beat, Hawaii’s many progressives are the single biggest source of Gabbard’s political strength. Nationally, she made headlines in the 2016 primary when she quit her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Bernie Sanders, frustrated with the DNC’s reported favoritism toward Hillary Clinton. In the popular imagination, the episode established her firmly on the progressive side of the “progressive vs. establishment” divide.
There’s just one problem: Although she has voiced support for progressive positions like Medicare for all and free college tuition, her actual record skews moderate. She has broken from her party on votes to increase restrictions on refugees and weaken gun control. She has introduced legislation supported by GOP donor Sheldon Adelson and interviewed for a possible position in Trump’s Cabinet. She has a -0.280 DW-Nominate score, which measures politicians on a scale from -1 (most liberal) to 1 (most conservative) based on their congressional voting records. That made her more conservative than 83 percent of House Democrats in the 115th Congress.

True-believer progressives also balk at Gabbard’s lengthy opposition-research file, which is bulging with ties to controversial figures and lingering questions about her conservative upbringing. While some say her opposition to military intervention in Syria makes her an advocate for peace, others say it makes her a “mouthpiece” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In 2017, she was widely rebuked for taking a meeting with Assad, an act that legitimized the accused war criminal, and saying she was “skeptical” of the U.S. conclusion that Assad had used chemical weapons. The previous year, she was one of only three members of Congress to vote against a resolution condemning the Syrian government’s use of force against its own people.
Closer to home, Gabbard grew up a spiritual follower of a Hare Krishna sect that has been accused by former members of being an authoritarian cult. Its teachings ran the gamut from environmentalism to anti-gay activism, something that has already created headaches for Gabbard’s presidential campaign. As a teenager, Gabbard worked with her father, a fervent crusader against gay rights, at the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which supported conversion therapy and helped pass an anti-same-sex marriage law. At least twice as a state representative, Gabbard referred to LGBT-rights advocates as “homosexual extremists.” She has since apologized and released a lengthy statement affirming her support for same-sex marriage and “LGBTQ+” rights, but as late as 2016, she told Ozy magazine that her personal views remained unchanged. In 2017, she told the New Yorker, “Just because that’s not my lifestyle, I don’t think that government should make sure that everybody else’s lifestyles match my own.”
Overall, Gabbard is a good example of why the “progressive vs. establishment” narrative is a flawed one. Really, party divisions unfold along two dimensions: ideology (progressive vs. moderate) and tone (establishment vs. anti-establishment). Gabbard is an anti-establishment moderate, and it’s not clear if there’s an appetite for that in a primary. Then again, that’s what Trump was — and GOP primary voters didn’t seem bothered by his controversies and frequent departures from conservative gospel. The big question for Gabbard is whether Democratic voters are also willing to look past similar imperfections for the right messenger. And like Trump, she is a compelling messenger.


Who’s Behaving Like A 2020 Presidential Candidate

Sen. Cory Booker went to Iowa. Michael Bloomberg re-registered as a Democrat after years as an independent. Former Secretary of State John Kerry would not rule out another presidential run, even though it’s very unlikely he will actually pull the trigger. And that’s just the 2020 campaign activity that made the news this week.
The 2020 Democratic presidential primary started the day after the 2016 election — let’s not pretend otherwise. But we’re hitting a new phase of the campaign: the last few weeks of the midterms, when prospective presidential candidates campaign across the country, officially in support of other politicians, but unofficially to build their own brands. And right after the midterms, I would expect a few Democrats to formally announce that they are running in 2020, others to start hiring staff and taking other concrete steps toward a run without quite fully jumping in, and a third bloc to bow out before they have to pretend to enjoy spending the winter in Iowa and New Hampshire
At this point, however, it’s hard to distinguish “I’m keeping my options open” from “Hell yes, I’m running.” So rather than wildly speculating about who’s going to do what, let’s try to answer this question: Who’s already doing the things that eventual candidates typically do at about this point in the election cycle? We’ll use the same rubric we used back in May 2017 for our article “The 7 Signs That Someone Might Be Running For President in 2020”: whether a candidate appeared at a political event in an early primary state (Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina), whether they were profiled for a major magazine, whether they campaigned for their party’s candidates for senator or governor, whether they released a book during this campaign cycle, and whether they’re being included in polls of the Democratic field.22
Here’s the latest tally23:

Who’s acting like they plan to run for president?
Based on indicators between the 2016 election and the 2018 midterms

Visited

Iowa
N.H.
S.C.
Book
Poll
Magazine Profile
Campaigned
Score

Sanders







7

Biden







6

Bullock



5

Booker




5

Castro



5

Garcetti




5

Holder





5

Ryan



5

Steyer




5

Avenatti


4

Buttigieg



4

Flake



4

Gillibrand





4

Harris





4

Hickenlooper



4

Kasich



4

Landrieu




4

Merkley



4

Moulton


4

O’Malley



4

Swalwell



4

Warren





4

Bloomberg



3

Inslee


3

Klobuchar


3

McAuliffe


3

Schatz



3

Hassan


2

Patrick


2

Sasse

2

Schultz

1

Visits to Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire include formal political events only, including scheduled visits that haven’t happened yet. Candidates count as having a book out if they have published a book or are scheduled to publish a book during the 2018 election cycle. For polls, we’re counting any national, nonpartisan primary surveys that include the potential candidate. A national profile is defined as a piece in The Atlantic, New York magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine or Time that is more than 1,000 words long and includes an interview with the potential candidate. Campaigning is defined as participating in an event for a gubernatorial or Senate candidate.

There are a lot of names there, though even so we probably still missed a few. Because we started with a list of candidates who had visited early primary states, we were more likely to capture candidates who met that criteria and less likely to capture people who have been campaigning in other ways. And since much of this information is pulled from news reports, we may have missed events that didn’t attract much media attention, like a campaign stop in support of candidate whose re-election looks like a sure thing.24 With those caveats in mind, let’s run through this list we have in groups.
Basically running right now
Lawyer Michael Avenatti; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro; Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Former Attorney General Eric Holder; former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon; former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Rep. Eric Swalwell of California; businessman and pro-impeachment activist Tom Steyer; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
I should emphasize that these signs are a general rubric — a way to test our impressions of the field against reality — not some kind of formal system for predicting who will run for president. That said, I think these indicators do give you some sense of which politicians seem to really want to run.
This first group is potential candidates who have taken at least four of the seven steps toward running. I think of the people in this group as running for president right now, even if some of them end up never launching full-blown campaigns. (For example, at this point, the more interesting story would be if Bernie Sanders didn’t run for president; he is the only person who hit all seven of our indicators.) It’s worth noting the diversity of approaches in this group. Some of them, like Michael Avenatti and Eric Garcetti and Sanders, are making visits to multiple early primary states, which is the equivalent of saying, “I’m really, really thinking about running for president and I really, really want the national media to cover my explorations.”
To be fair to people like Garcetti, if you’re not a nationally known figure, going to the early states is perhaps the most efficient way for an aspiring president to get his or her name in articles like this one. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, is already well-known among Democratic activists, so she can skip the activities that seem very self-focused — she hasn’t gone to Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina — while making moves that keep her profile up (campaigning for Democrats in key gubernatorial races).
There are 20 people in this bucket — a fairly large group. That said, I don’t expect all 20 to run, and I would be surprised if even half of them ultimately do. People who have taken this many early steps often bow out because they decide that they are unlikely to win. Jeff Merkley, for example, is an economic populist who was the only U.S. senator to endorse Sanders in 2016. In terms of message and policy views, the two have a lot in common. So it’s hard to see a path to victory for Merkley if the much-better-known Vermont senator runs too.
Two governors in this group, Steve Bullock and John Hickenlooper, are presenting themselves as more centrist candidates. If Joe Biden decides to run, he will likely enter that centrist lane too, and I doubt there is room for both him and those other two.
Indeed, Biden and Sanders would enter the contest as two of the best-known candidates. But you could imagine one or both of them deciding that the possibility of winning both the primary and the general election is outweighed by the possibility that they will lose one of those races and taint their strong political brands with another presidential defeat.
Of these 20, I’m most skeptical of the idea of Holder and Landrieu running. The former attorney general could be publicly teasing a presidential campaign not because he really wants to run but because the national coverage will bring more attention to his project to mobilize Democrats against what he considers unfair Republican-engineered gerrymandering in states across the country. Or I could be wrong — Holder might launch a formal campaign over the next year, and we could have a field with three high-profile black candidates (I think Booker and Kamala Harris are almost definitely running).
Landrieu has been downplaying the idea of running, and he’s the kind of person with low national name recognition who should probably be overhyping himself if he really wants to compete in 2020.
Notice there are only three women in this group. To be sure, Harris and Warren, in particular, seem more likely to wind up being the Democratic presidential nominee than men like, say, Eric Swalwell. That said, despite the rise of women candidates in the Democratic Party after President Trump’s election, the majority of Democratic presidential candidates will likely be male, in part because the ranks of senators, governors and House members are disproportionately male.
Taking steps but not being as aggressive
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii
This category covers anyone who hit three of our seven signs. I don’t want to overemphasize the distinction between this group and the first one — some people in this group are almost definitely running. Michael Bloomberg and Jay Inslee, for example, are being quite open about considering candidacies, so I just as easily could have included them in the section above.
Amy Klobuchar has a lot of potential appeal: She’s expected to cruise to a third term in a closely divided state; she has gotten fairly strong support in Minnesota’s rural areas, an unusual quality for a Democrat; and she’s a woman at a time when Democratic voters appear to be seeking more gender parity in their elected officials.
I don’t think Brian Schatz has any plans to run, and his visit to Iowa really seemed like an exercise in helping party activists there and not raising his personal profile. But you never know.
Doing fairly little
Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; businessman Howard Schultz
Deval Patrick and Howard Schultz are fairly high-profile figures. Neither seems to have closed the door on the possibility of running, but they have been less aggressive than others in laying clear groundwork for a campaign.

Whew. That’s 27 people. And that’s not all. Remember, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland has been an official, declared candidate for over a year. The third-term congressman is not being taken too seriously — many outlets doing polls of the 2020 field aren’t including him. I’m keeping my eye on a businessman named Andrew Yang, who has also officially declared his candidacy. He could run at least a semi-serious campaign for two reasons: He is making a universal basic income, a buzzy idea in left-wing circles, the center of his candidacy, so he is getting some media attention, and, yes, reporters like me are going to cover more out-the-box candidates to avoid missing the next Donald Trump.
Also, and we may come back to this in a later piece, at least three Republicans (Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska) have emerged as anti-Trump figures in the GOP and visited at least one of the early primary states. I would not rule out the possibility that one of them (probably Kasich) will run against the president in the Republican primary.
But let me finish with this: Who seems likely not to run?
On the sidelines
Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, former first lady Michelle Obama, media mogul Oprah Winfrey
After Trump was elected in 2016, it seemed like the rules of politics no longer mattered and so we would see a lot of actors, corporate titans, musicians and other political neophytes run in 2020. That seems fairly unlikely, at least as of now. Avenatti, Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, in particular, would be non-traditional candidates with some Trump-like characteristics. But we’re not seeing real, bonafide celebrities making active moves to run for president.
Michelle Obama, for example, has been included in polls and is coming out with a book, so I could have put her in the section with Deval Patrick, but those are pretty weak indicators in her case; I really, really, really don’t think she is running. Winfrey has two post-2016 books and she polls well, but I don’t think she is running either. In an interview last year, The Rock expressed interest in running for president, but far in the future (2024). And he wouldn’t really fit into our analysis here anyway, since the actor is not affiliated with either party.
It also seemed, in the days immediately after the 2016 election, that the Democrats would be desperate to draft anyone who could appeal to white working class men in Ohio and push those candidates into the presidential field. So far, not so much.
Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey are likely to win re-election this November in key states that Trump flipped to the GOP side in 2016. The fact that Democratic party activists are not clamoring for any of these three to run in 2020 is a sign that the party is not singularly obsessed with finding an “electable” candidate. Democrats might regret this choice if Trump defeats, say, Sanders or Warren in 2020, carrying Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin along the way.