It may be difficult to believe, but President Trump’s first term is already half over; thus, following the midterms, the race for the 2020 presidential election will commence. Candidates will trek to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early primary states in earnest next summer, but some have already begun to angle for positioning. Predictions this far in advance may prove fruitless; after all, no one foresaw Trump’s meteoric rise, and doubts continued to surround his legitimacy until Super Tuesday cemented his pole position. On the other hand, the primaries can serve as little more than a coronation of the predetermined favorite, such as Secretary Clinton in 2016 or President Reagan in 1980. The 2020 Democratic primary is another situation altogether, with a myriad of strong choices but no definitive frontrunner. Thus engenders the high probability that one of these ten candidates, ranked in order from least to most viable presently, will claim the nomination.
10: Seth Moulton
The Massachusetts representative, along with fellow Democrats Conor Lamb and Jason Kander, typify a new branch of the party: young, well-educated men versed in both service and government. Indeed, after graduating from Harvard College, Moulton committed himself to four terms of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Bronze Star Medal for outstanding courage. Moulton possesses the charisma and bipartisan nature to court moderate Republicans; for instance, he supports the expansion of nuclear energy and fiscal responsibility; however, his progressive tenets are hardly lacking, as he considers abortion access a fundamental right and wishes to augment gun control.
9: Bernie Sanders
Although he lost in the 2016 primary, the senator from Vermont performed surprisingly well, winning twenty-three states, and continues to attract much attention, appearing regularly on cable television. Furthermore, Sanders enjoys the support of an adoring base, featured prominently on Twitter. Name recognition factors heavily into primaries’ results due to the plethora of candidates, so Sanders’s standing would likely result in an initial boost. However, Sanders’ prime opportunity may have passed. His age will register as a concern for voters, as he would be eighty years old during his inaugural address, easily the oldest of any president.
8: Michael Avenatti
The bombastic lawyer for adult actress Stephanie Clifford (more commonly known as Stormy Daniels), Avenatti has unabashedly inserted himself into the conversation. He posted his campaign platform directly onto Twitter, his preferred form of social media, and he agrees firmly with the progressive wing of the party both economically and socially. More importantly for his candidacy, Avenatti believes that solely he can take on the president, as in his opinion no other Democrat demonstrates his flair and propensity to tackle an issue directly. Avenatti has purposely built himself up as the Trump of the left in both word and deed, which will certainly cater to the band of staunchly anti-Trump liberals.
7: Deval Patrick
Governor Patrick, having led Massachusetts as its first African-American governor for eight years, provides the most executive experience of any contender. After working at Bain Capital since the end of his second term, Patrick also has ties to wealthy donors, a critical component in an environment where cash flow often dictates success. Patrick’s association with President Obama has propelled him forward with incremental but steady gains among the base, which still reveres the former president. If Patrick can solidify his team with former Obama staffers, who have experienced a bitterly contested primary before back in 2008, the former governor may obtain an invaluable edge.
6: Kamala Harris
Senator Harris represents the archetype of American progressivism, California, in the Senate, and she has acted as such, calling for an overhaul of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE), the implementation of single-payer healthcare, and the legalization of marijuana. Further boosting her credentials, Harris, elected previously as California’s attorney general, has maintained a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and an F from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Harris drew much applause from Democrats from her vocal opposition to Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, so she will seek to capitalize on that momentum if she runs.
5: Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar may not presently arouse the same excitement from Democrats as her more prominent peers may, but she nevertheless could captivate a large portion of the base, especially those who defected in favor of Trump in 2016. As the senior senator from Minnesota, Klobuchar has obtained much power during her terms, especially on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and she has sponsored the most legislation, 98 distinct bills, essential for a party which desires an effective leader. Additionally, Klobuchar, as a highly educated mother who resides from the Minneapolis area, will appeal to the suburban, college educated women who are fleeing the Republican Party en masse.
4: Joe Biden
Vice President Biden requires no introduction; as a long-time senator and subject of countless memes, both young and old have heard of the former congressman from Delaware. Indeed, Biden probably would have entered the 2016 race if not for the death of his son, Beau, so he has prepared himself as the candidate who will reignite Obama’s agenda. Biden faces much criticism for his handling of Anita Hill’s allegations against Justice Thomas in the 1990s, during which the then-head of the Senate Judiciary Committee extended the benefit of the doubt to the man. Although Biden has apologized, this mistake, at least in the eyes of progressives, could engender devastating consequences on his chances.
3: Cory Booker
Booker has already placed staff in Iowa, as clear an indication that he is actively examining a bid. Once considered a moderate, Booker has aggressively shifted his views to the left, as he fully supports a surge in entitlement spending and has led the effort to remove Confederate statues from federal property. Simultaneously, some aspects of his foreign policy will entice Republicans, such as his commitment to the state of Israel and his condemnation of Iran via more stringent sanctions. Booker’s reliance on Wall Street and exorbitant donors will hinder him significantly among an electorate opposed to outside spending in any capacity.
2: Elizabeth Warren
Senator Warren displays the necessary pillars of American liberalism, and she is committed to reaching a wide range of constituents under her platform. On paper, she looks like Democrats’ best bet, as her professions of dedication to working-class citizens, tenacious courage against Senate Republicans, and advocacy on behalf of the marginalized allure the necessary constituents to secure the nomination. However, Warren is an incredibly polarizing figure, even within Massachusetts, and Trump, perhaps anticipating her ascension, christened her “Pocahontas.” Democrats may fear running another Clinton-esque figure in the face of 2018’s results.
1: Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand presents the perfect blend of pragmatism and progressivism. Having represented up-state New York for a number of years in Congress, Gillibrand worked passionately across the aisle, especially on gun reform. Opponents may utilize her prior moderation to smear her campaign, but she will need to communicate with Republicans in order to produce reforms, so this criticism could actually benefit her. Furthermore, as a senator, Gillibrand has kept in line with New York’s overall values and exemplified her liberal credentials in Congress, unequivocally disputing the validity of Trump’s more controversial nominees. Ultimately, I believe she will receive the nomination on July 16, 2020.