With nine confirmed candidates, three exploratory committees, and multiple “maybes,” the Democratic field for the 2020 presidential nomination is crowded. Winnowing them down could be particularly tough for voters and contributors, because most of the candidates seem to be running on pretty similar platforms—promoting universal healthcare, pushing for regulations to curb climate change, reducing inequality, and improving conditions for the American middle class.
Here is a look at who is officially running—in the order they entered the race—followed by those who have formed committees, and those seen as likely to run:
The former congressman from Maryland started two publicly listed lending companies before running for office in 2012. The first generation in his family to go to college (he stresses his electrician father’s union membership on the campaign trail), he was the very first Democrat to announce he was running back in July 2017. He’s already visited every county in Iowa, the first state in the primary contest, attempting to jumpstart his national campaign from there.
Age: 55 Years in politics: 6
Who gives him money: Funded by banks, housing, and construction companies in his congressional race. Independently wealthy, funding himself now.
Biggest idea for the economy: Build a public and private international coalition against China’s intellectual property theft, and compete against China in Asia with a TPP-style trade deal.
Social media following: Twitter: 14,400, Facebook: 357,000, Instagram: 2,100.
Who will like this candidate: Centrists drawn by his nuts-and-bolts pitch to improve workers’ rights, education, and infrastructure.
Who will hate this candidate: Democrats who don’t think that reaching out to Donald Trump voters is the way to win in 2020.
A former tech entrepreneur who started a nonprofit to promote startups, Yang entered the race Nov. 6, 2018 on essentially a single issue: protecting Americans from job-stealing robots. The son of Taiwanese immigrants, he sells himself as the opposite of Trump—an ego-free Asian man who likes math.
Age: 44 Years in politics: Less than one
Biggest idea for the economy: A $1,000 monthly check sent to every American over 18, so they can pay their bills as robots take over jobs.
Social media following: Twitter: 62,400, Facebook: 26,300, Instagram: 32,400.
Who will like this candidate: Silicon Valley types, promoters of universal basic income (UBI).
Who will hate this candidate: Anyone against higher taxes: Yang wants to fund his UBI proposal through value-added taxes.
After growing up in a poor San Antonio neighborhood, Castro—and twin brother Joaquín—went on to earn Ivy League degrees and take on careers in national politics. Onetime mayor of San Antonio, Castro was US secretary of housing and urban development under Barack Obama. That experience, along with his mother’s activism with Latino groups, is a central part of the narrative he’s pitching to voters. He entered the race on Jan. 12, 2019.
Age: 44 Years in politics: 18
Who gives him money: He’s pledged not to take “a dime” from political action committees. There are no public records about who contributed to his runs for mayor, because San Antonio is only required to keep campaign-finance documents for two years. The PAC he created to support new Democratic candidates in the 2018 election, Opportunity First, has vowed not to take donations from corporate PACs.
Biggest idea for the economy: Though he hasn’t released many details of his platform, he’s been a strong advocate of free trade, which has benefitted his hometown. He’s defended free trade deals, arguing that instead of scrapping them, they should be reworked to strengthen protections for workers and the environment. (His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Social media following: Twitter: 179,000, Facebook: 102,400, Instagram: 24,400
Who will like this candidate: Democrats looking for a fresh face, Latino voters, free traders.
Who will hate this candidate: Democrats dismissive of identity politics, opponents of affirmative action (which Castro supports).
The child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris became a prosecutor in Oakland, California, the San Francisco district attorney and finally California’s attorney general before winning her US Senate seat in California. She stepped into the race Jan. 21 on a morning talk show.
Age: 54 Years in politics: 16 years
Who gives her money: In the past five years, 35% of Harris’ campaign funds have come from small donors, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of Federal Election Commission data. Her top sources of funding include attorneys, retirees, financiers and the entertainment industry. Her biggest contributors by employer were WarnerMedia; the University of California; Google-parent Alphabet, Inc.; 21st Century Fox and the law firm Venable. Her presidential campaign won’t accept donations from corporate PACs.
Biggest idea for the economy: The LIFT Act, a working- and middle-class tax cut akin to the Earned Income Tax Credit that she says will provide up to $500 a month to families. To pay for it, she wants to reverse Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy—but it’s not clear if she’ll tackle the radical structural changes that bill made in how US multinationals operate.
Social media following: Twitter: 2.37 million, Facebook: 1.22 million, Instagram: 1.5 million.
People who will like this candidate: Fans of Obama’s progressive pragmatism looking for a candidate who can combine a compelling personal biography with the promise to unite the party’s multi-ethnic coalition.
People who will hate this candidate: Progressives who thought Obama was a sellout, particularly those who question her mixed record on reforming the justice system.
The former Newark, New Jersey mayor launched his campaign with an appeal to America’s common purpose and a focus on social and racial equality on Feb. 1, 2019. A Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law graduate who gained celebrity-politician status thanks to his early use of social media. The US senator from New Jersey has been criticized for being close to wealthy elites and for media-friendly stunts.
Age: 49 Years in politics: 17
Who gives him money: Mostly large individual contributors from the legal, investment and security, and real-estate sectors. A deep-pocketed Democratic donor set up a super PAC for Booker before he entered the race.
Biggest idea for the economy: A “baby bond” program that would give every child a US Treasury bond at birth, with a larger amount for poorer kids. He would also propose guaranteeing a $15 minimum-wage job in 15 test areas.
Social media following: Twitter: 4.18 million, Facebook: 1.27 million, Instagram: 635,000
Who will like this candidate: Voters looking for an optimistic message to contrast Trump’s negativity, northeastern city dwellers.
Who will hate this candidate: White rural voters who don’t want to focus on race and inequality, liberals concerned about his Wall Street and Silicon Valley enthusiasts.
The first Hindu member of Congress, Hawaii representative controversially met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and sided with Russian president Vladimir Putin against Obama on US intervention in Syria. Strongly opposed to regime-change wars after her experience fighting in the Iraq war as part of the National Guard, she speaks about fighting “radical Islam.” A onetime Hawaii state representative, she supported Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic primary campaign. On Feb. 2 she entered the race she calls a “fight for the soul” of America.
Age: 37 Years in politics: 17
Who gives her money: Health professionals, real-estate interest groups. Most donors are individuals, though her second-largest contribution ($36,400) between 2011 and 2018 came from the National Automobile Dealers Association’s PAC.
Biggest idea for the economy: Cut taxes on small businesses and farmers, raise them on corporations; lower military spending by ending regime-change wars and reducing the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Social media following: Twitter: 279,000, Facebook: 300,600, Instagram: 74,300
Who will like this candidate: Veterans, some progressives, voters looking to reduce military spending.
Who will hate this candidate: People who are concerned about Islamophobia, supporters of global trade.
The former Harvard law professor became a household name as a US senator from Massachusetts when she spearheaded congressional oversight of the financial industry bailout. She’s promising to restore the US to a place where people can succeed if they “work hard and play by the rules” by holding billionaires and big corporations accountable. She formally entered the race Feb. 9, when she suggested Trump could be in jail by 2020.
Age: 69 Years in politics: 10
Biggest idea for the economy: A “wealth tax” of 2% on net worth over $50 million and 3% over $1 billion designed to raise $2.75 trillion over a decade.
Social media following: Twitter: 4.8 million, Facebook: 3.2 million, Instagram: 1.3 million.
Who will like this candidate: Detail-oriented voters who like her mix of east coast academic know-how and midwest roots.
Who will hate this candidate: Voters who distrust the intellectual elite, people who doubt she has enough personal appeal and can lure centrists.
The former corporate lawyer, the first woman to be elected a Minnesota senator, has established a reputation as a matter-of-fact centrist, tackling kitchen-table issues like drug pricing. Her unflappable questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh earned her kudos from farther-left Democrats. She held an outdoor rally in a blizzard on Feb. 10 to announce she was running, aiming to highlight her “grit” and the “friends and neighbors” who showed up to cheer.
Age: 58 Years in politics: 12
Biggest idea for the economy: New measures to make it easier for small and mid-sized US businesses to export goods worldwide.
Social media following: Twitter: 631,000, Facebook: 319,700, Instagram: 51,900.
Who will like this candidate: Folks looking for a Goldilocks candidate—neither too left nor too right, and a woman who appeals to midwestern voters.
Who will hate this candidate: Democrats to her left may be opposed to Klobuchar’s centrist appeal.
A Brooklyn-born self-described democratic socialist, Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981 by a margin of just three votes. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1990, and the US Senate in 2006, where he remains today—the longest-serving independent senator in the history of the US. He challenged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries in 2016 and entered the 2020 race on Feb. 19, promising “change from the bottom up.”
Age: 77 Years in politics: 38
Who gives him money: Over the past five years, 75% of Sanders’ campaign funds have come from small donors in amounts of less than $200, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of FEC data. His top sources of funding include liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org, University of California employees, two postal-employee unions, and the Communication Workers of America. Just $177,000 of $12.7 million raised during that period came from PACs.
Biggest idea for the economy: Sanders would like to make public colleges tuition-free, increase Social Security benefits, and make corporate America more union-friendly. Sanders has proposed paying for the tuition costs by taxing financial transactions and the Social Security expansion by subjecting all incomes above $250,000 to the 6.2% payroll tax.
Social media following: Twitter 8.1 million, Facebook: 7.5 million, Instagram: 2.9 million.
People who will like this candidate: Loyal “Bernie Bros” who still think he would have won in 2016, new converts to the idea of universal healthcare and higher taxes for the wealthy.
People who will hate this candidate: Democrats who see Sanders as a “spoiler” who siphons votes away from defeating Trump, Clinton fans still smarting over her loss, people of color alienated by Sanders’ last campaign.
The former corporate lawyer and New York congressional representative became known as the “Me Too senator” after calling out Trump’s sexism and leading the push for Democratic senator Al Franken to resign after sexual-misconduct allegations. Gillibrand announced she was exploring a run Jan. 16 on Stephen Colbert’s CBS late-night show, stressing assistance for public schools, job training, and support for the middle class.
Age: 52 Years in politics: 11
Who gives her money: Law firms, Wall Street institutions.
Biggest idea for the economy: Gillibrand has been pushing the US to require that companies adopt a universal paid parental leave policy.
Social media following: Twitter: 1.36 million, Facebook: 544,400, Instagram: 181,000.
Who will like this candidate: Establishment-oriented voters and party supporters closely tied to the Democratic National Committee, where Gillibrand has deep support, and still-with-Hillary folks.
Who will hate this candidate: Progressive voters—Gillibrand’s work defending the tobacco industry and her anti-immigrant platform a decade ago raise questions about where her loyalties lie.
A gay Democratic mayor in South Bend, a conservative, Republican stronghold, Buttigieg presented a progressive message geared towards millennials in a Jan. 23 announcement, saying we “can’t look for greatness in the past.” An Afghanistan war veteran and former consultant, he was the city’s youngest mayor. His LGBTQ, Harvard- and Oxford-educated profile may appeal to coastal elites and his midwest roots may give him an advantage in the rest of the country.
Age: 37 Years in politics: 17
Biggest idea for the economy: Increase public protections of jobs and benefits to help make the employment market more dynamic without the fear of personal debt tied to college loans and medical bills.
Social media following: Twitter: 135,000, Facebook: 23,000, Instagram: 20,700.
Who will like this candidate: Millennials, LGBTQ voters, voters from flyover states, social progressives.
Who will hate this candidate: Voters looking for a more experienced candidate, conservative Christians.
The best-selling author of 12 books on spirituality, including Healing the Soul of America, she ran for US representative in California in 2014 as an independent. Williamson said she was thinking of running for president in November 2018. A spiritual advisor to Oprah Winfrey, she is an active supporter of the HIV/AIDS community, poverty reduction, and female empowerment. She is promoting racial reconciliation, reparations to the African-American community and a more humane US immigration policy.
Age: 66 Years in politics: 5
Who gives her money: Unclear so far; Williamson is independently wealthy.
Biggest idea for the economy: Pay $10 billion in slavery reparations every year for 10 years to the African American community.
Social media following: Twitter: 2.6 million, Facebook: 737,200, Instagram: 358,000.
Who will like this candidate: Some woke white liberals, coastal elites.
Who will hate this candidate: Pragmatic voters, nationalists, centrists, people who want the party to stay away from identity politics, those wary of modern spiritual movements.
Maybe, maybe not
Biden, who hasn’t entered the 2020 race officially, already leads in the polls. Obama’s vice president and right-hand man, Biden has additional decades of federal experience as a senator from Delaware and a centrist appeal that could sway moderate Republicans and independents. Now leads Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at University of Pennsylvania.
Age: 76 Years in politics: 49
Who gives him money: Traditionally law firms, the insurance industry, and rich folk; Hollywood insiders recently gave $100,000 to his Democratic PAC.
Biggest idea for the economy: His Biden Institute is pushing tech education and increased bargaining power for American workers as a solution to the left-behind working and middle class.
Social media following: Twitter: 3.31 million, Facebook: 1.37 million, Instagram: 1.2 million.
Who will like this candidate: Democrats who think a safe pair of hands is a tested white man, independents nostalgic for the Obama administration, Republicans Trump has lost.
Who will hate this candidate: Progressive millennials eager for a new generation of leaders, far-right conservatives who hated Obama.
Virtually unknown outside Texas until last year, O’Rourke now has a national fan base thanks to his plucky campaign against US senator Ted Cruz. He is a former US representative and El Paso, Texas city councilman, tech-company founder, and onetime punk rocker. His upbeat message and multicultural background—he grew up on the border with Mexico—played well with Trump-fatigued voters, but he’s short on experience and policy proposals.
Age: 46 Years in politics: 14
Who gives him money: His race against Cruz was mainly funded by individual contributors but he took PAC money in previous elections.
Biggest idea for the economy: His economic proposals during his Senate run last year were focused on reducing inequality, though they were rather vague. They included stronger anti-trust regulations to break up monopolies and encouraging companies to invest profits in their employees and communities.
Social media following: Twitter: 1.23 million, Facebook: 840,700, Instagram: 802,000.
Who will like this candidate: Democrats disillusioned with party leadership (especially millennials), immigrants, veterans.
Who will hate this candidate: Voters hungry for nitty-gritty details on what his policies would be, Democrats who want the party to stay away from divisive, culture-war issues.
The billionaire made his money in Wall Street financial-services information and then became New York City mayor in 2001, switching parties to run as a Republican. Bloomberg controversially backed rewriting city laws to allow himself to run for a third term. He re-registered as a Democrat in October 2018. CEO of Bloomberg, he is a philanthropist and political donor, giving $100 million to Democratic midterm campaigns He also funds the gun-control nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
Age: 76 Years in politics: 18
Who gives him money: Nobody. He has funded his own campaigns.
Biggest idea for the economy: Promises he can run the US government, the country’s largest employer, more efficiently than any recent president.
Social media following: Twitter: 2.29 million, Facebook: 756,400, Instagram: 191,000.
Who will like this candidate: Other centrists who think a steady hand means an older billionaire; gun-control supporters.
Who will hate this candidate: Anyone hungry to see a younger, less white, less male, non-billionaire be the face of the Democratic party.
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