Democrats 2020: A First Look At Candidates And Strategy For The Presidential Election

Dec 5, 2018
Originally published on December 5, 2018 2:15 pm

With Sacha Pfeiffer

It’s looking like a lot of Democrats will be running for president in 2020. What will it take to win back the White House?


Elana Schor, politics reporter for the Associated Press who’s covering the 2020 Democratic candidates. (@eschor)

Robby Mook, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Senior fellow, Defending Digital Democracy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. CNN political commentator. (@RobbyMook)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “Opinion: Democrats should consider what would happen if Trump doesn’t run in 2020” — “Call me a wide-eyed optimist, but I have a feeling that even if President Trump makes it through his first term, the Republican Party might not want to renominate a man who was negotiating a high-stakes deal with an adversary of the United States while running for president — and lying to us that he was doing no such thing. Forget the possible crimes and impeachable offenses for a moment. Isn’t the raft of new information about Trump a major problem if he runs in 2020? (Democrats could win under a banner such as ‘Pick someone loyal to America.’)

“Now, I leave open the possibility that Trump will be run out of office before 2020. (‘Your tax returns or the presidency, Mr. President,’ House Democrats might say if they get a subpoena for Trump’s documents enforced in federal court.) And I leave open the possibility that the Republicans would be so silly as to stick with a president who has tried at every turn to obstruct an investigation into his association with an enemy of the United States.

“Nevertheless, that leaves us with a not insignificant chance that Democrats could have to run against someone other than Trump in 2020. What considerations come into play at that point?”

New York Times: “For 2020 Democrats, There’s a Lot of ‘Thinking About It’” —  “The would-be 2020 Democratic contenders could not be clearer: They are not running for president.

“O.K., they are not actively running for president. Not currently, not at this very moment — which is to be spent with family, in solemn reflection about the nature of public service — running for president.

“Anyway. Can they count on your support? Hypothetically, of course. Just in case. As they are not running for president.

“Such is the state of the Democratic presidential primary field these days, with dozens of possible candidates who claim to be mulling, weighing, considering, wondering — while offering updates, with varying degrees of plausibility, on the intensity of their preparations.

“Consider this a guide to how Democrats are communicating a desire to run without the fuss, commitment and risk of announcing it outright.”

Vox: “Democrats in 2020 don’t have the Republican safety margin” — “One of the central questions in understanding the Democratic presidential nomination race for 2020 is simply: Are Democrats now where Republicans were four years ago?

“Will the party be confronted next year with one or two dozen viable candidates on the debate stage, each with their own financial base of support, and no way to cull the field before voting begins in Iowa? Will that create the conditions for a wealthy celebrity or some other untested non-traditional populist to emerge from the pack and win the nomination?

“Jennifer Victor, Richard Skinner, and I had some debate along these lines during our podcast discussion with Ezra Klein last summer. (I had a separate discussion with Lilliana Mason on this topic around the same time.)

“I didn’t have much of an answer then, but I wanted to return to the question. I believe the answer is no, as I will explain below. It’s not that Democrats don’t face some of the same coordination problems that Republicans faced in 2015-16, but rather that they have greater incentive to overcome those problems than Republicans did. Failure to coordinate is more dangerous for Democrats than it is for Republicans right now, and both parties know it.”

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