If you include all of the Democrats thinking about running for president, almost 185 men and women are vying or thinking of vying for Donald Trump’s White House seat. You can probably recognize about 30 of them.
It is not only one of the largest fields in modern political history but the most diverse.
The field includes names we have come to expect, like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and those who have come out of the woodwork with little or no name recognition, such as self-help author Marianne Williamson.
There are the names we find hard to pronounce such as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Of course, there are more than a few undeclared candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
We are about a year and a half out from the primaries, and I only know the backgrounds and platforms of three of the current contenders, as well as Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame.
With such a large field, I am wondering why I am already receiving candidate preference polls, usually limited to the top 16 popular declared and potential candidates, without a shakedown debate under our belts. I am wondering why I am getting emails asking for campaign contributions from candidates I don’t know.
Only one recognizable Republican is currently willing to oppose Trump in 2020 — former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Some scientific polls show that former Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, both uncommitted to a presidential run right now, are the only Republicans who would stand a chance against Trump in a primary. It’s a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless.
The Berniecrats are probably the most organized and ardent supporters. A few of them are very much like Trump supporters, believing Sanders is the only viable candidate available. Some have already declared that they will refuse to vote if Sanders is not the candidate of choice for the Democrats. There is some speculation that if the “Nobody but Bernie” crowd refuses to vote, or votes for a third-party candidate, Trump’s second term as president is assured.
What Sanders also has on his side is a base of die-hard progressives wanting the Democratic Party to move farther to the left.
Today the Democratic “progressive” candidates are touting what Sanders pushed for in 2016: Medicare for all, free college education, no money influence in politics and reform of the presidential nomination process.
That does not make me want to support Sanders or anyone else at this time. I really just want to hear the other candidates speak their minds.
Then there is the Green New Deal as proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Though she is not running for president, her influence and this bold plan seem to resonate with a number of the declared candidates, even though it is not feasible to retrofit every building in the country for clean energy.
Some are relying on the current polling numbers to help them choose the “right” candidate this early in the process. Yet online polling often reflects the extremes behind both sides of an issue or a candidate. These polls tend to be emailed to supporters or opponents of an issue or candidate. Even the headings on the emails can be misleading as a way to find those on the correct side.
Of the “scientific polls” available, Joe Biden seems to have the best chance at beating Trump in the presidential election in 2020. That is if, and it is still a big if, Biden announces his candidacy.
Some are looking for the next John Kennedy or Barack Obama, someone with integrity, enthusiasm and charisma to win over a nation. We seem to forget that Kennedy won his 1960 election against Richard Nixon by a proverbial whisker.
If push came to shove today, I would write “undecided” on my ballot. I think I will wait until after the first Democratic debate in June before rendering an opinion about which candidate to support in 2020.
I hope the Democrats will try to be fair in their handling of the June 2019 debates, sticking with the top 20 candidates, initially chosen by contributions and number of states where they have filed. I hope they also will allow at least a few of the 185 potential candidates to have a voice.