The Red & Black

Who to Watch in the Democratic Race


With such a wide variety of candidates at such an early stage in the campaign trail, covering a vast array of backgrounds and issues, it can be difficult to determine who will be the Democratic nominee in 2020.

As of this article’s writing, former Vice President Joe Biden is the clear front-runner in national polls.

Biden is more moderate than many of the other candidates in the field, campaigning on solving working-class problems.

He is well-liked by Democrats and many consider him to be the most “electable” in a race against President Trump.

Despite controversies over his long political career, he will likely remain the candidate to beat.

Vermont’s Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, is Biden’s biggest challenger. Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, holds second place in the polls.

He came to national prominence during the 2016 Democratic primaries, where he positioned himself as an anti-establishment candidate.

Sanders continues to build his campaign around changing the political system and pushes progressive policies including Medicare-for-all and free college tuition.

California Senator, Kamala Harris, is another top candidate in the field. Harris, who is half-black, half-Indian, is a champion of diversity and social policies.

She is known for her progressive policies such as pro-environment overhauls and wider tax cuts for the middle class.

Harris enjoys wide support from women and minorities.

Cory Booker, a senator from New Jersey, competes for the minority and progressive vote as well.

Apart from his liberal policies on issues like incarceration and drug use, Booker, the former mayor of Newark, is known for acts of integrity, such as plowing snow for the elderly or saving someone from a burning building.

Much of his campaign messaging has been positive and upbeat.

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke is also at the center of the race. O’Rourke, a former punk rocker, captured national attention last year in his tightly contested, but ill-fated, Senate race against Ted Cruz in what is normally a solidly Republican state.

O’Rourke is vocal about issues including gun control and immigration which broadly affect his home state. He continues to be popular from his 2018 run.

So far, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been a breakout star on the campaign trail.

Young, highly educated, and a Naval veteran, Buttigieg appeals to a broad audience, including millennials, conservatives, and religious voters.

If elected, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay president in US history, as well as the youngest.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is widely supported among liberal voters.

In particular, Warren is a champion of financial accountability. She fought against billionaires and mega-corporations in the past and supports breaking up tech giants such as Facebook.

She offers some of the most detailed policies currently in the field.

As far as interesting outliers go, entrepreneur Andrew Yang is at the center of discussion on the internet.

Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, has built his campaign around the idea of a $1000-a-month universal basic income (UBI) for all adult Americans, which he calls a “freedom dividend”.

Yang frames UBI as a way to combat rising automation replacing jobs and to support what he calls “human-centric capitalism.”

Even if 2020 seems close, with more than a year between now and the Democratic primaries there is a lot of time for things to change and for candidates to shake up the race.

Potential 2020 voters might get an idea of what’s to come from watching the candidates debate at state conventions, such as the recent one in California.

As poll numbers rise and fall and candidates try to assert what policies their electorates want, only one thing becomes clear: this Democratic race will be very contentious.