If there is one thing that is consistent within the turbulence of the modern political landscape, it is the public’s obsession with the horse race of election season. In the wake of a historic Democratic victory in the House and sweeping gubernatorial victories nationwide, the most exhilarating question posed to the party at this juncture is who will represent them as their 2020 presidential nominee. With the Democratic Party currently not having any clear ideological leader to rally behind in the wake of Obama and Clinton, it is certain that some party figures will rise above the crowd and take up that mantle. In doing so, the currently hazy picture of the 2020 primary elections will begin to sharpen into a more fully realized competition.
So who might some of those contenders be? The following five candidates, while not all have declared their candidacy outright, are among the most popular picks to challenge President Trump in the 2020 general election:
- Elizabeth Warren
As the first female Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren has become a powerful voice within the populist progressive wing of the Democratic Party following her victory over Scott Brown in 2012. During her career, she has quickly risen as one of the leading champions of campaign finance reform, health care reform, and consumer protection. Regarding the latter, Warren also acted as the first special adviser to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an organization that she helped to create in the aftermath of the Great Recession. In her announcement video, Warren stated her goals clearly: she is running in order to push back against corporations’ and the billionaire class’s ever-growing influence in politics. Watch the video here.
- Joe Biden
Joe Biden has emerged as the frontrunner in many early polls for the 2020 Democratic nomination, despite being one of the only entries on this list that has not yet officially launched a campaign. Apart from the celebrity associated with being Obama’s Vice President, Biden has a long and distinguished history in the Senate dating back to the 1970s. Throughout his time in politics, he has consistently been a strong advocate for action against domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition to being one of the members of Congress involved in drafting the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, Biden is a founder of the It’s On Us campaign, whose purpose is to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses nationwide.
- Kamala Harris
Elected by Californians as a Senator in 2016, Kamala Harris is a rising star among younger voters in the Democratic Party thanks to her vocal pushback against the immigration policies of the Trump administration. In addition to her numerous statements criticizing the organizational culture and systemic failings of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Harris has also been a strong proponent of widespread immigration reform and the passage of the DREAM Act to ensure the protection of current DACA recipients. In addition to this immigration focus, she has also expressed her support for Medicare for All, greater environmental protection efforts, and sweeping criminal justice reform. If elected, Harris would be the first female, first person of Indian descent, and first person of Jamaican descent to hold the presidency. Watch her introductory video here.
- Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders rose to political superstardom following his historic candidacy in the 2016 Democratic primaries. Throughout his long involvement in American politics, Sanders has largely supported populist social movements ranging from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to modern Democratic Socialist movements advocating for labor issues nationwide. In addition to his economic populist messages regarding the minimum wage and the ongoing growth of income inequality, Sanders has been outspoken in the past about issues like campaign finance reform and health care. The latter specifically has been the primary focus of his rhetoric in recent years, especially following his introduction of the “Medicare for All” single-payer health care bill. Should he be nominated and elected, Sanders would become the first Jewish president in the nation’s history. Watch his introductory video here.
- Beto O’Rourke
Beto O’Rourke is an interesting case among potential nominees because he is most widely known for an election that he lost. Last year, O’Rourke was the Democratic challenger to Texas Senator Ted Cruz who, while coming surprisingly close to unseating his Republican opponent, ultimately failed to do so. The reason that this is not an immediate disqualifier for the candidate is because of how his campaign was capable of garnering national attention. Going viral on many occasions, Beto’s speeches and strategy cemented him as a brand that was recognizable far past the borders of Texas. After launching his campaign, O’Rourke has elaborated on many of his policy positions, framing himself as a more centrist candidate in comparison to recent Democratic superstars like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In recent weeks, O’Rourke has voiced his support for heightened gun control, called for increased climate action, and been outspoken against the border and immigration policies of the Trump Administration. Watch his announcement video here.