It’s hard to believe, but we just passed the 3-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s announcement that he would be running for president back in the summer of 2015. Few believed it was much more than a sheer publicity stunt at the time, but we know what’s happened since.
With the 2020 presidential election just over 2 years away, we should start to see potential opposition candidates start to line up. With the way the Hillary Clinton campaign ultimately failed miserably, one would imagine the Democrats would want a more unified message and a candidate capable of bringing the entire party together. Prior to the 2016 election, the party was somewhat split between Clinton supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters. That may not have been enough to ultimately hand the election to Trump, but it certainly played a part in the result.
We have seen women and minority candidates emerge in droves running for congressional seats and other political posts since 2016. We have already seen a few names emerge as potential candidates, though nobody has yet confirmed that they will officially run for Trump’s seat at the top of the U.S. government. Who are some of the names to watch, and what are their chances of earning the Democratic party’s nomination?
Bernie Sanders +400 (to Become Democratic Presidential Nominee)
Bernie Sanders essentially came out of nowhere 2 years ago to mount a serious challenge against the long-presumed Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. He ultimately fell short of giving Clinton much of a sweat at the Democratic convention, but caused enough of a stir to make many wonder whether he will ramp things back up 4 years later.
In an interview with CNN in May, Sanders’ old campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said, “He [Sanders] is considering another run for the presidency and when the time comes I think we’ll have an answer for that. But right now he’s still considering it.”
So, while Sanders has yet to commit to another campaign, we know the veteran Senator from Vermont is at least weighing his options. The primary question most will have regarding Sanders is his age. He would have become the oldest-ever president had he won the election in 2016, so he’ll obviously do the same again if he is to run and win in 2020. Sanders is 76 as of this writing, and he’ll be 79 by election night of 2020. Trump, now 72, is the oldest sitting president ever.
While Bernie wasn’t able to secure the Democratic nomination 2 years ago, he has risen to the top of the party in terms of vocal leaders since Clinton’s defeat. If he decides to run again, it will likely be Sanders that determines where the margins on policy will be set for the other Democrats in the field. He has some strong leftist beliefs, some bordering on socialism, which makes him a polarizing figure in the political field.
Sanders’ prime cause is healthcare. The Senator put together a “Medicare For All” single-payer health plan that fellow Democratic hopefuls (Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker) agreed with. Some of Sanders’ ideas in 2016 were so popular with voters that Clinton had no choice but to take a hard left turn on just about every other stance she had just to make sure she could cover the gaps between the 2 candidates. Bernie has some serious sway.
It’s probably too early to say that Sanders should be the favorite to win the nomination. He did start something of a movement 2 years ago, but some of that may have had to do with the fact that he was opposing a much more establishment candidate in Clinton. Most do not expect a Clinton type to be in the 2020 field, so it’ll be interesting to see where Sanders lands.
He’s a strong value bet at +400 here, though not necessarily my favorite value play on the board.
Kamala Harris +400
Sanders has the same odds to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination as California Senator Kamala Harris. Unlike Sanders, who has been mixed up in Washington politics for decades, Harris is relatively new on the scene. She was elected to her current Senate seat in 2016 after serving as California’s state attorney general. Appointed in 2011, she was the first woman to ever fill that job.
Harris has gained fame in a relatively short time on Capitol Hill has an aggressive interrogator unafraid to ask difficult questions. She has maintained a seat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has interviewed numerous potential witnesses and key figures in the alleged Russian election meddling that helped get Trump elected in the first place.
Harris has been no stranger to the television scene, which adds to speculation that she’s eyeing a run for the Oval Office. The 53-year-old Senator has already made appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Ellen. She has been asked whether a run for the presidency is in her future, but she has yet to confirm one way or the other.
As for her potential platforms, Harris doesn’t take as hard-left a lean as Sanders. She has shown a willingness to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans, as evidenced by her work alongside Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul on a criminal justice bill in 2017. Claiming to be able to reach across the aisle is a common refrain for politicians, but few actually have evidence to support said claims. Harris can check that box, at least in one instance.
Harris is a young African-American woman, which certainly helps differentiate her from some of the other potential candidates. Michael Kempner, a Democratic fundraiser, has previously described Harris as “charismatic, smart and impressive.” He went on to say that she has “that extra quality that you can’t necessarily pinpoint, but it has the feeling of a star in the making. Everyone looks for the new, new thing. Kamala is the new, new thing.”
Harris is an interesting name to keep an eye on, for sure. The problem with having so many candidates is that they may wind up cannibalizing one another and dividing the votes. Obviously, that’s a problem when there is just a single candidate on the other side. Both Harris and Sanders make for strong values, but if choosing one on which to wager, I’d lean with the more established personality in Bernie.
Joe Biden +500
Barack Obama’s Vice President, Joe Biden, was reportedly giving strong consideration to throwing his name into the field in 2016. However, the untimely death of Biden’s son Beau reportedly kept him from getting involved. Now that he is a few years removed from the tragedy, however, Biden is reportedly weighing making another run at the White House.
If Biden were to run, it wouldn’t be his first foray into a presidential race as the top name on the bill. Biden declared in 1987 that he would enter the 1988 presidential race. Interestingly enough, he was attempting to become the youngest president since John F. Kennedy. Biden raised nearly $2 million in the first quarter of 1987, which was more than any other candidate.
His campaign began to lag as the year progressed, however, and a plagiarization accusation during a speech ultimately proved to be a death knell to his run. Biden subsequently suffered a pulmonary embolism that would keep him out of the Senate for months, effectively putting his campaign on ice for good.
The former VP has been one of the most vocal opposers of the Trump administration. As such, he has been constantly asked whether he plans to actually oppose Trump in the upcoming election. Biden, now 75, faces the similar age-related questions that Sanders does, but he appears to be in good mental and physical condition. No worse than Trump in either regard, to be sure.
Biden has proved to be a useful surrogate to Democrats running for other positions over the last 2 years, and he has a loaded upcoming campaign schedule set for the fall during which he will be campaigning for a number of other candidates heading into midterm elections. Biden has said he won’t rule out a run of his own, though he hasn’t confirmed that he will do so, either.
Biden would have the opportunity to capitalize on the immense popularity of Obama within the Democratic party. Obama is still thought to be the de facto leader of the party despite the fact that he is no longer in public eye, and Biden gained popularity as the president’s right-hand man for 2 successful terms in charge.
Biden certainly has the charisma and political wherewithal to do battle with Trump on a national stage. At this point, it’s just a matter of his desire to engage in another lengthy political run and whether he wants to try his hand in a field of potentially younger candidates. Some on the left may see Biden’s potential candidacy as a step back rather than a step forward for the party.
Any run of his would almost surely focus on Biden’s ability to unite his own party and the country as a whole after a turbulent and divisive Trump presidency. His down-home, aw-shucks type of personality figures to endear him to some that may not otherwise have much interest in voting for a Democrat.
Biden looks like an excellent value here at +500. His immense popularity should help propel him to the front of the field, and I think if he throws his hat into the ring he has a very strong chance of emerging as the Democratic nominee in ‘20.
Cory Booker +1000
Sanders, Biden and Harris look like the presumptive early favorites, but this is expected to be a huge field of candidates. Most expect this to be the largest Democratic presidential field in decades, and that should come as no surprise. There is a lot of angst and anger out there about the job Trump is doing, and there will be no shortage of candidates motivated to oust him from power.
Like Harris, Booker has gained a reputation as a fiery presence during Senate hearings. Like Harris, Booker is also a young and rising African-American presence within the party. The New Jersey Senator was reportedly a finalist to be named as Hillary Clinton’s Vice President. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. Now, Booker can run on his own without having the Clinton baggage weighing him down.
Booker has been one of the loudest voices in Washington in opposition to Trump. He has repeatedly called for the president’s resignation for a slew of reasons. None of them will actually force Trump to resign, of course, but some voters do like to see that kind of passion from their leaders. Booker’s seat on both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee also give him the platform to speak out on national interest issues, which is a potential boost to any presidential candidacy.
Booker has also tried to lure voters from Bernie’s camp by teaming up with Sanders in order to introduce prescription drug legislation.
Elizabeth Warren +1000
Some thought Warren would make a run of her own in 2016 before the outspoken Massachusetts Senator eventually threw her support behind Hillary Clinton. Warren was one of Clinton’s most useful surrogates during that campaign, and she was another voice not afraid to directly attack Trump and his campaign’s values.
Warren obviously wasn’t enough to ultimately put Clinton over the top, but there is again speculation that she will give the White House a go of her own. Warren is quite a bit more liberal than Clinton was, which figures to help as the Democrats look to distance themselves from those on the right side of the aisle. Differentiating from Clinton is probably a sound strategy moving forward.
Warren was another that was reportedly given VP consideration in 2016. She has hovered consistently near the top of prospective polls looking forward to 2020, as well. Some wonder whether she will be able to win over centrists, and others say that she and Sanders would eat into each other’s votes if they were to run against one another.
She is an effective communicator, and many will see and appreciate the enthusiasm she has for her job. That enthusiasm should work well to attract voters that weren’t feeling particularly enthused by Clinton 2 years ago. Warren is one of the best values on the board here at +1000. She looks underpriced here.
Kirsten Gillibrand +1200
Gillibrand started her career as something of a moderate Democrat, but the New York Senator has gradually started to shift to the left during Trump’s reign. One of her newest, most hardline stances is support of a federal jobs guarantee that would guarantee employment to all Americans. Not even Bernie Sanders has gone that far left on such an idea, which can help separate Gillibrand from some of her competitors.
Gillibrand said, “Guaranteed jobs programs, creating floors for wages and benefits, and expanding the right to collectively bargain are exactly the type of roles that government must take to shift power back to workers and our communities.” That’s certainly an idea some voters will approve.
She has also gotten herself to the forefront of the #MeToo movement, even going so far as to blast former president Bill Clinton for his questionable behavior during his presidency. She has proven that she is unafraid to take on established party leaders, and that is the kind of breath of fresh air that many in the party are looking for. That kind of mettle will also likely come in handy if things get ugly with Trump in a potential election battle.
Who Will It Be?
There is still a loooooong way to go until the 2020 Democratic convention, so it may be a bit silly to start making prognostications when we don’t even have a field of candidates as of yet. Still, we can make try to make some educated guesses here. Among the 6 candidates listed, here is how I would rank them in terms of betting value:
- Joe Biden +500
- Elizabeth Warren +1000
- Kirsten Gillibrand +1200
- Bernie Sanders +400
- Kamala Harris +400
- Cory Booker +1000