The 2020 U.S. presidential election has continued for quite some time now, and the field of candidates has been significantly whittled down since the previous post about the 2020 candidates. A slew of candidates dropped out shortly before the caucuses began, and the New Hampshire primary caused three more candidates, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Governor Deval Patrick, and Senator Michael Bennet, to drop out. With the presidential field having shrunk significantly, a new updated look at the candidates is warranted.
With two primary states having already voted at the time of writing, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has edged out a slim lead in terms of the delegate count, with a 1-delegate lead over Bernie Sanders. Buttigieg won the Iowa caucus in a surprise victory despite often polling in single digits, and tied in delegate count with Sanders in New Hampshire, giving him a current total of 22 delegates. At 38 years old, Buttigieg is one of the youngest candidates seeking the presidency this year. If he wins, he would also be the first openly gay President of the United States. He is also an Afghanistan veteran and is considered a more moderate candidate, including policies like “Medicare for all-who-want-it,”college loan relief, and reshaping the Supreme Court. His supporters believe a moderate candidate like “Mayor Pete” is more likely to win the presidency. Still, Buttigieg has drawn criticism from progressive rivals for having a high number of billionaire donors. As for his surname? According to the mayor himself, it is pronounced “boot-edge-edge.”
In terms of the delegate count, the candidate in a close second position is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders rose to national prominence after his run for the presidency in 2016, where he narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton. Sanders has made a resurgence in 2020, with a fired-up progressive base and endorsements from prominent progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At 78 years old, Sanders would be the oldest U.S. president elected yet and suffered a heart attack health scare earlier in the campaign season. Nevertheless, he and his campaign both recovered, and he has surged to the top of the polls. Sanders won the popular vote in the Iowa caucuses and won the state of New Hampshire. Based on polling at the time of writing, Sanders is set to win Nevada as well, which would put him in the lead. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Sanders runs on policies such as universal single-payer healthcare, college debt cancellation, $15 minimum wage, and a wealth tax. Supporters have praised Sanders for being consistent in his beliefs since young and being seen as taking on Wall Street corporations, but the Vermont senator has drawn a lot of flak for calling himself a socialist.
In third place so far is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another more progressive candidate. At one point, she surged to frontrunner status, but in recent weeks has fallen lower in the polls. At a mere 8 delegates, Warren sits lower than the two frontrunners. Some have described Warren as a female, slightly more moderate version of Sanders, though she still leans towards the progressive side of the spectrum. If elected, she would be the first female president and the second female presidential nominee of a major US party. Warren has described herself as someone who can unify both the moderate and progressive wings of the party; however, some progressives have criticized her for backing down on her Medicare for all stances.
In a close fourth place at 7 total delegates is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Initially considered a longshot candidate, Klobuchar gained a boost from undecided voters in primary states. Klobuchar has described herself as a moderate candidate — being from the Midwest — and as someone who can work across the aisle and get legislation done. She also touts her experience in Washington, something her moderate competitor Buttigieg notably lacks. Klobuchar generally exceeded expectations in Iowa and rocketed to third place in New Hampshire at 19% — higher than her position in the polls. The senator famously launched her campaign in the middle of a blizzard, and she has fairly broad support from moderates who believe a pragmatic candidate can perform better in a general election than a more left-wing candidate. However, Klobuchar’s campaign has been rocked with allegations of staff abuse—which she has denied—and a recent gaffe. Nevertheless, Klobuchar’s willingness to work in bipartisan methods has helped her to pass many bills in Congress, and the senator hopes her moderate policies attract independent voters across the country in a general election.
Perhaps most surprisingly, in fifth place is former Vice President Joe Biden. As the Vice President to President Obama from 2008-2016, Biden had a considerable advantage in the election with high name recognition. In fact, Biden dominated national polls month after month. When it came to the actual votes, however, Biden’s campaign struggled, coming in 4th in Iowa and 5th in New Hampshire — devastatingly low for the former frontrunner. This recent fall, however, is not too surprising, as many factors worked against the former vice president. Old videos of him getting a bit too close in personal space sparked criticism as he was described as “creepy,” former candidate Harris criticized him for his older stances on bussing and segregation, Trump attacked him numerous times on corruption allegations between Biden’s son and Ukraine, and multiple other moderate candidates—Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg—seem to have eaten into Biden’s vote share. Even former President Obama has not yet endorsed him. It remains to be seen whether Vice President Biden can recover from unfavourable results in Iowa and New Hampshire and regain his frontrunner status.
An interesting candidate is Michael R. Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York. Bloomberg entered the race very late, but due to his immense personal wealth has been able to blanket the nation in political ads. Bloomberg has cast himself as a moderate candidate, criticizing Bernie Sanders as being too extreme and dangerous in a general election. Rather, the former NY mayor has stated that the moderate wing of the Democrat primary should coalesce around him to prevent a self-proclaimed socialist like Sanders from winning the nomination. However, Bloomberg has been criticized for his immense personal wealth, as other candidates have claimed he is attempting to “buy the election.” Bloomberg was widely attacked at the recent Las Vegas debate, and also faces sexual harassment allegations and old tapes of him supporting controversial policies like stop and frisk. Bloomberg adopted an interesting technique of skipping early voting states and targeting the Super Tuesday states; with a wide range of Democrat candidates, it remains to be seen if this strategy will pay off.
One final candidate polls significantly lower than the others, and that is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. The congresswoman from Hawaii ran an interesting campaign where she attempted to win over Republicans and independents in addition to Democrats. Still, her strategy has so far not paid off, and she has not gained much traction. Gabbard also has had much internal drama with other members of the Democratic Party: in 2016, she resigned from the DNC to publicly endorse Senator Sanders, and she has more recently sued former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton after Clinton insinuated Russia was grooming Gabbard to be a foreign asset. Like fellow candidate Mayor Buttigieg, Gabbard is 38 years old, making her the other youngest candidate seeking the presidency this season. She also served in the Iraq War and is famous for her strong anti-war stances, though some have criticized her for being too soft on dictators. While other longshot candidates have already dropped out, Gabbard presses on, and only time will tell the future of her campaign.
That concludes the guide to the remaining Democratic candidates! Hopefully, this updated guide has been helpful in the ever-changing world of politics. A crowded field with over 5-6 prominent candidates (Buttigieg, Sanders, Klobuchar, Warren, Biden, and Bloomberg) is not a common sight in recent politics, and it remains to be seen how that will affect the nomination process. Perhaps one or two candidates may be able to effectively and finally pull ahead of the rest, of perhaps the Democratic party will find itself faced with the difficult scenario of a contested convention. Each candidate brings something new to the table, and time will tell who will prevail.