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The 2020 Presidential Candidates, Explained

Despite the 2020 U.S. presidential election being many months away, the campaign trail has already been in full swing for some time. Seeing Donald Trump as a weak candidate who could potentially lose, many Democrat candidates have tossed their hat into the ring, hoping to be the one to defeat Trump in 2020 and win the presidency. President Trump is the incumbent candidate for the Republican ticket, though there have been some other Republican challengers seeking to meet in the primary with him. With so many candidates, the election can seem confusing, but an in-depth breakdown of the candidates makes following the 2020 presidential election become a much easier task. 

Of course, the primary Republican candidate is the incumbent president, Donald Trump. After his surprise win in 2016, it remains to be seen whether he can pull off yet another win in 2020 and secure another presidential term. Supporters of the president have pointed to the strong economy and the booming job market as reasons to re-elect him, while his opponents have blasted his rhetoric, policies, and potential collusion scandals. As a strongly polarising public figure, it remains to be seen if Trump can pull off yet another election win in 2020.

President Trump faces two main opponents from within the Republican Party: Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman and political commentator; and Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts and the 2016 vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party. However, Trump’s high approval rating within the Republican party means it is unlikely that these two candidates will succeed in defeating him.

There are many Democrat candidates challenging Trump in 2020, but arguably the most recognizable is the frontrunner Joe Biden. Biden was Vice President in the Obama administration from 2008 to 2016, and while he declined to run for President in 2016, he has officially joined the presidential race for 2020. Biden currently leads in the polls among Democrats due to his name recognition and more moderate stances, but faces criticism due to a series of public gaffes in speeches.

The candidate of choice for many of the more progressive Democrats is Bernie Sanders, who famously ran in 2016 before losing to Hillary Clinton. The 78-year-old senator from Vermont has a strong support among his base due to his long history of political progressivism, but many of his Republican critics have slammed him for his self-described socialist stance. 

Another candidate with many similar ideas to Sanders is Elizabeth Warren. She was lambasted by the public after her questionable attempt to rebut claims of her faking Native American ancestry, but has recently seen a rise in the polls again among Democrats due to her progressive policies. With a long history in politics, Warren currently serves as senator from Massachusetts.

Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has caused quite a stir in the political community. As a Christian, Harvard graduate, and military veteran, Buttigieg would be the youngest and first openly gay president if elected.

Another prominent Democrat candidate is Kamala Harris. The senator from California who formerly served as California’s Attorney General rose to prominence during her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh. However, she has struggled in the polls recently after fellow candidate Tulsi Gabbard sharply criticized her harsh criminal justice record in one of the debates.

The junior senator from New Jersey–Cory Booker–is yet another noteworthy candidate in the 2020 race. Booker is a liberal who supports affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and single-payer healthcare, but has been criticized by some within the Democrat party for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

One very interesting candidate in 2020 is Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who founded Venture for America, a company that trains graduates and young professionals in entrepreneurship skills. Initially described as a “longer-than-long-shot candidate”, Yang gained momentum through a strong internet support base who call themselves the Yang Gang. His primary policy position involves a universal basic income of $1000 per month for every adult–dubbed the “Freedom Dividend”–though his website has more than 160 other policy proposals listed.

Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, is another presidential hopeful in 2020. He was the youngest member of President Obama’s cabinet in 2014, where he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro also was one of the possible choices for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate.

Another 2020 Democratic contender is Amy Klobuchar, the senator of Minnesota. She was the first female senator elected by Minnesota who was described as a “rising star” within the Democratic party in 2009 and 2010. Many believe that her midwestern ties could help her defeat Trump. However, there have been allegations within her campaign of her allegedly mistreating her staff.

Beto O’Rourke is another candidate who has garnered nation-wide attention after nearly defeating Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race. O’Rourke is considered a politically moderate candidate, though he has been strongly criticized by opponents for his proposed mandatory gun buyback system.
There are also a host of other Democrat candidates who have done less well in the polls and failed to qualify for the third debate. These include Tulsi Gabbard, military veteran and representative from Hawaii with a strong anti-war stance; Marianne Williamson, author and spiritual leader who became an internet sensation after the first debate; Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida; Michael Bennet, a senator from Colorado; John Delaney, a representative from Maryland, who was the first to announce his candidacy for the 2020 presidential elections; Steve Bullock, governor of Montana; Tim Ryan, a representative from Ohio; Joe Sestak, a representative from Pennsylvania; and finally Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Democrat donor.

(Update: as of October 2019, Tulsi Gabbard has qualified for the fourth round of debates. This article was written before the news was announced.)


With so many candidates in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election cycle, the election may seem confusing and complicated. Hopefully, this guide to the 2020 presidential candidates has helped to clarify each of the candidates and their noteworthy political stances.
































  1. Nice job Josiah! This was very informative and helped me make some sense out of US politics right now, thanks a lot!

  2. Great article, @jteh (*winks*)! I’ve been wondering about all the candidates so this really helped!

  3. Great article, @jteh (*winks*)! I’ve been wondering about all the candidates so this really helped me get a clear summary of each of them. Thanks!

  4. Oooh look I’m not quite as completely ignorant of all things politics anymore XP
    Great article, Josiah! this was really helpful for understanding all of this.

  5. This was really helpful! I never try to make sense of everything that’s going on because it’s always so confusing lol. But this has really helped me understand what’s going on. Thanks for writing this!