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Who Will Stay and Who Will Go in the Crowded 2020 Democratic Primary?

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    The Democratic Presidential primary field for the 2020 election is the largest in modern political history and it's not even fully set. When all is said and done, there will be a minimum of 23 major candidates vying for the opportunity to represent the Democratic Party in the national election against incumbent Donald Trump. Some of them have an inherent advantage due to their history and experience while others hope to use their youthfulness and experience outside of the beltway to their advantage. One thing is for certain though - no Democrat will be able to complain they don't have enough options to choose from this election cycle.

    After the election of Donald Trump, the conventional wisdom that experience trumps (no pun intended) all else is thrown out the window. That is good news for the less experienced candidates, but I'd also take that with a grain of salt considering that Donald Trump was a household name long before the 2016 election.

    With that in mind, I think it'd be fun to predict which candidates will make it deep into the primary and which ones won't. Due to the sheer number of candidates, I'm just going to put down the 5 candidates (in no particular order) that I think will make it the furthest in the primary.

    1) Joe Biden
    2) Bernie Sanders
    3) Kamala Harris
    4) Cory Booker
    5) Elizabeth Warren

    As you can see, I am someone who tends to think that 2016 was an anomaly and that Democrats will select a well known (and tested) politician over taking a risk with a largely unknown and untested candidate. I may well be proven wrong (I sure was in 2016), so take my predictions with a grain of salt!

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    You do have Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris and Buttigieg polling in the top 5 right now, according to RealClearPolitics. Same for FiveThirtyEight.

    I do see Biden and Sanders making it into what you could call the final four. My two candidates I'm most interested in don't have the best shots but I am hoping they make it as the other two - Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard. Currently they are 11th and 12th in polling. But with things just about to kick off, I don't see either of them turning it in early. I think they outlast at the minimum half the crowd.

    I think Buttigieg has staying power. But I do not think Booker or O'Rourke will be around in the end. Have my doubts about Harris as well. I think they will bow out fairly early compared to Biden and Sanders. But Warren, yeah she could be there close to the end.

    That said, Gillibrand, Inslee, Ryan, Delaney, Hickenlooper and anyone else not even polling in the top 16 right now.. I think they will all be the first to go.

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    Biden and Sanders are the clear front-runners to me. So hard for others to differentiate themselves in this crowded field. I think a big part will be how Trump interacts with these candidates throughout and down the stretch. And how they respond to what will 100% be him dogging them. That will catapult some of others if they do well. And Trump will undoubtedly end of the others campaigns, sad to say. As they will appear weak and a bad candidate to run against him in the general.

    I would say Biden and Sanders are the only locks. But I'm rooting for others.

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    Even after the norm-busting election of 2016, I have a hard time believing that a largely unknown candidate will be able to break through and win the nomination. President Trump may have been a political outsider, but no one can say they'd never heard of him before.

    I'm predicting that a solid chunk of the candidates will drop out either shortly before or very quickly after Iowa holds its caucus and four to six or so "major" candidates will remain. I also think Senators Warren and Harris have the potential to pick off a lot of tepid Bernie voters from 2016 who may have voted for him in that years primary largely out of protest against Senator Clinton and not necessarily because they supported him.

    Biden is the clear and unquestioned front-runner, but we won't really know how strong his support actually is until a handful of caucuses and primaries are held. He obviously has the name recognition and money to go deep into the primary, but only time will tell if Democratic voters think he's the best candidate to take on President Trump in the general.

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    Update on this. So the debate rules to qualify are as follows via CNN:

    In announcing the new debate rules, the DNC set two potential qualification requirements for the field:

    • Achieve at least 1% support in three polls from an approved list of pollsters
    • Receive campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states

    That said, here are the candidates who have qualified under both criteria:

    Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Andrew Yang, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar and Marianne Williamson.

    That's 13 candidates that for sure will be on one of the two debate stages in June and July.

    And since it seems you only need to qualify for one of these criteria, right now you will also see:

    Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan and Eric Swalwell.

    That makes for a total of 19. And the DNC cut off is a max of 20 candidates for these debates. So that means very very likely Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet, Wayne Messam and Seth Moulton are out of the mix.

    I expect that the 6 candidates with only 1 criteria (all those got 1% of the polling but not 65k+ unique donors) will either see a massive late push for donors or they will drop out very soon. Im gussing Blasio and Gillibrand could easily get those donors and as of this moment they are just testing the polling waters. If I had to guess, all 6 will drop out soon.

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    5 are starting to pull away I would say as we near the first debates. Current polling:

    Biden - 32%
    Sanders - 15%
    Warren - 11.9%
    Harris - 7.1%
    Buttigieg - 7%

    O'Rourke and Booker polling at about 2-3% And the rest 1% or lower. I think we will know a ton about who is for real or not by the end of the first debates. Expecting many to drop out if they don't see dramatic promise in polling a few days or weeks after the first debates.

    Maybe by the 2nd round of debates in July there will only be 10 candidates or so on the stage. After that second round though, for sure it will be down to just the top 5-8 max.

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    We do have our first candidate of the top 20 to officially drop out - Eric Swalwell.

    Eric Swalwell drops out of 2020 presidential race, becoming first prominent Democrat to do so

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    I have to admit that I'm surprised only a few Democratic candidates have dropped out so far. I'm guessing that at least a few more who don't make the second Democratic debate will step aside in the not too distant future, but it's still amazing that so many people who appear to have zero chance at all are still in the race.

    We all know what the likely scenario is. Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Harris seem to be in it for the long haul. Maybe O'Rourke, Buttigieg, and Yang stand a fighting chance, but I'm far more bearish about those three. The remaining ten plus candidates, at least in my humble opinion, don't stand a chance.

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    It amazes me that there's still eighteen declared candidates and a dozen who continue to qualify for the debate stage. I'm all for "small d" democracy, but it might also be time to toughen the debate qualifying rules in order to make it so there's actually a thoughtful discussion on the debate stage and not three hours of one minute answers.

    Realistically, there are five to seven (max) candidates who have a somewhat realistic shot at the nomination. And that's with me being very generous.

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    Kamala Harris just dropped out of the race.

    Amazing there are technically 15 candidates officially still in the running for the Democrat nomination. But for Harris to drop out, a candidate who was always polling at 3-5 in the rankings, that means its only a matter of time until most everyone not in the top 5 drops out. Should whittle down from 15 to 4-5 very very soon.

    Who’s Running for President in 2020?

    That's the NYT updated list of who's running and who has dropped out, continually updated.

    Feel already like a 4-5 person race with Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and then maybe Bloomberg.

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    We're only a few weeks away from the Iowa caucuses and the race still seems to be relatively the same as it it has been for months, with the only "major" change being Senator Harris dropping out and Pete Buttigieg rising in both Iowa and national polling into what most of us would consider a "top-tier" candidate.

    Personally, I just have a hard time believing that Buttigieg has much staying power after Iowa, but take what I say with a grain of salt because if I've learned anything in recent years, it's that it's impossible to predict anything when it comes to national politics!

    Another thing we'll have to keep an eye on is if the DNC agrees to change their debate rules if Mayor Bloomberg performs well in Iowa. He's vowed to self-fund his candidacy, which, according to current DNC debate rules, disqualifies him from participating in any sanctioned debate. I can't imagine that the DNC will keep that rule if he has a big night in Iowa.

    Regardless of who your candidate is and what your predictions are, it is exciting that, after a year plus of campaigning, the rubber is finally about to start hitting the road. Let the games begin.