There are 1,281 days between today and the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election. But, with Donald Trump in the White House, Democratic politicians are already eagerly jockeying for position with the expectation that the party’s nominee will have a very good chance of ousting the incumbent – if his poll numbers stay anywhere as low as they are at the moment.
One potential candidate who looks like she’s decided against running is New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “I’m focused entirely on running for Senate, so yes, I’m ruling it out,” she said Monday in New York.
Gillibrand’s announcement is a bit of a surprise given that she was widely seen as a likely candidate. (She, of course, could change her mind sometime between now and 2020. See “Obama, Barack” on that front.)
Gillibrand’s news got me to thinking: Just how many people are thinking about/mentioned/floating themselves for the Democratic nomination and where, roughly, do they fit when it comes to their chances of winning?
Below I broke the field into four tiers as a way to think about the massive number of potential competitors. These names – and the groups they fall into – are based on email exchanges with more than a dozen national Democratic strategists, many of whom are veterans of the Obama and Clinton campaigns.
One grain of salt before we proceed. A prominent Democratic consultant offered this analysis of the current field: “I don’t think there is a top tier. I think our bench is that weak so everyone starts in Tier B.”
Also, I’ve placed them in alphabetical order within their respective tiers.
1st Tier (If they run, they have a real chance to win the nomination)
The former vice president clearly regrets not running in 2016. And he’s keeping the sort of schedule – New Hampshire speech! – that makes him look like someone who’s thinking of running.
The Vermont independent started a movement in 2016. His grassroots activist and donor base is bigger than anyone in the potential 2020 field.
Warren, prior to 2016, was the face of the populist, anti-Wall Street wing of the Democratic party. Sanders cut into Warren’s dominance in his presidential campaign. But, she remains the single most beloved figure among liberals.
2nd Tier (Have potential to be a major contender but not there….yet)
A few people I talked to suggested the New Jersey Senator belonged in the top tier. I am skeptical not just because of the mediocre Senate campaign he ran in 2013 but also because of his well-documented ties to Wall Street.
A two-term governor of New York with a record of liberal accomplishments and a famous last name? Check, check and check.