Tuesday

September 18th, 2018

Insight

The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, ranked

Aaron Blake

By Aaron Blake The Washington Post

Published July 9,2018

We're now just four months, practically speaking, from the effective launch of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary season. As soon as the 2018 midterm election is in the books -- win or lose -- you'll probably see a handful of the dozens of prospective candidates making moves or even launching campaigns to challenge President Trump.

So as we do every quarter, we're updating you on what the candidates have been up to and where they stand in our updated rankings. Here is the latest installment of our top 15 contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, starting with those to keep an eye on.

Worth watching: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former HUD secretary Julián Castro, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, IllinoisRep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

15. Oprah Winfrey: Oprah stays on this list because she's Oprah and has clearly shown some interest. But she continues to suggest she won't do it. "In that political structure -- all the non-truths, the bulls---, the crap, the nastiness, the backhanded backroom stuff that goes on -- I feel like I could not exist," Winfrey told British Vogue this week. "I would not be able to do it. It's not a clean business. It would kill me." (Previous ranking: 14)

14. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Landrieu is among the 2020 contenders with whom former President Barack Obama has spoken about the future of the party. He remains perhaps the most legitimate dark horse here. (Previous ranking: 13)

13. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown: Despite being targeted by the GOP for defeat in his reelection campaign this year, he looks comfortable. He leads Rep. James Renacci, R, by double digits in all recent polls. As for 2020 signs? Apparently they have to wait. (Previous ranking: 10)

12. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: The most recent Siena College poll has Cuomo actually widening his primary lead over former "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon; he led by 35 points. The primary is Sept. 13, and Cuomo's performance could either kill or fuel his 2020 ambitions. (Previous ranking: 11)

11. Connecticut Sen. ChrisMurphy: Murphy has said he won't run, but the New York Times reported recently that he's among those keeping tabs on much-sought-after New York donors. (Previous ranking: 7) 10. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Here we go again. The man who has threatened to run before as an independent is now reportedly considering running as a Democrat. And he's putting $80 million behind Democratic candidates in 2018. This is my skeptical face -- not only have we been down this road before, but Bloomberg is also among the oldest names on a list of already-quite-old candidates -- he's 76 now. His money would, of course, instantly make him a contender. (Previous ranking: N/A)

9. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.: A surprise entry on this list last time around, Holder traveled to New Hampshire recently and had this to say about challenging Trump: "Two guys from Queens. That would be interesting. New Yorkers know how to talk to other New Yorkers." Hmmm. (Previous ranking: 12)

8. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe: McAuliffe may be undertaking the most important 2018 job on this list: trying to elect Democratic governors. Given the party's deficit in many key states, winning governor's races is vital to preventing another GOP-controlled round of redistricting that could put Democrats on their heels for another decade. That said, it's not exactly high-profile work. (Previous ranking: 8)

7. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick: News about Patrick running keeps coming from people who seem to badly want him to run, rather than the prospective candidate himself. But he is hitting the campaign trail for Democrats and promising a decision by the end of the year. Patrick has been so quiet that people forget he's there, but he'd instantly have a base of institutional support from Obama types. (Previous ranking: 9)

6. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: Gillibrand remains one of the most likely candidates on this list, but her relationship with the Clintons is a big and potentially harmful subplot. Bill Clinton recently hit back after Gillibrand said, in retrospect, that he should've resigned the presidency in the late 1990s. "You have to -- really ignore what the context was," Clinton told CBS News. "But, you know, she's living in a different context. And she did it for different reasons." (Previous ranking: 6)

5. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker: Booker recently offered some of his most extensive comments to date about 2020. The summation: He's focused on reelecting Democrats in 2018 -- and his travel schedule bears that out -- and then he'll see what happens. (Previous ranking: 5)


4. Former Vice President Joe Biden: Polling this far out should be taken with a huge grain of salt if not outright ignored. But I suppose it's worth something that Biden had the most people say they were open to voting for him in a new Vox Populi poll. That's partially because of name ID, sure, but he was better off than Sen. Bernie Sanders and even others who were as well-known as he is. (Previous ranking: 3)

3. California Sen. Kamala Harris: Harris recently told MSNBC's Kasie Hunt that she's "not ruling out" a 2020 presidential run. But her actions may speak louder than her words. She was the first lawmaker to call for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign over the Trump administration's family-separation policy. She has also somewhat recently written off accepting money from corporate PACs. (Previous ranking: 4)

2. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren: She continues to set the progressive tone, including being a leading early voice for the abolition of ICE. And some key Clinton backers sound intrigued by her. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: Sanders for some reason keeps insisting he won't become a Democrat. He announced recently that he'll seek the Democratic nomination in his 2018 reelection campaign, but also that if (and when) he wins the nomination, he'll turn it down. Given his clear interest in seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, it seems an unnecessary bit of partisan hairsplitting. (Previous ranking: 1)

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