Who are the top 5 Democratic candidates with the best chance to beat Donald Trump in 2020?
A top D.C. insider and former campaign strategist offers his non-partisan expert picks and analysis below of who has the best chance to beat Trump.
EDITORS NOTE: This article is frequently updated.
The 2020 race will likely prove to be a very difficult challenge for President Donald Trump, despite a strong economy, decent approval ratings and the advantages of incumbency. Winning a presidential race against an incumbent is a tall order and historically very difficult. However, in the case of Donald Trump, Democrats enjoy a number of factors that favor a successful outcome for them in 2020.
Trump barely defeated Hillary Clinton 2016 by only about 70,000 votes in a handful of states. Trump also faces a major demographic deficit, as the country turns more and more “Blue” and former GOP strongholds like Arizona, Texas and Georgia begin to lean Democratic.
Despite the advantages for Democrats, it’s ultimately the candidate alone who determines the outcome, so below we’ll go through our list of those with the best chance to beat Trump and unseat him from office.
He’s our list of the candidates who have the best chance of defeating Trump in 2020 (see #1 below):
#5 – Pete Buttigieg
This up-and-coming, first-ever openly gay Democratic fresh-face is a former combat vet and mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Incredibly well-spoken and telegenic, he has garnered a great deal of media attention. His youth may also prove to be an asset, at age 37, if he remains as unflappable as he has appeared so far.
His faults have begun to come to light, however, and they are keeping his poll numbers anemic and unable to break out of the ‘second tier’ of candidates. He has garnered criticism for having no policy positions on his website. He has also received criticism for his handling of the firing of an African-American police chief in South Bend. His problems with the African-American community extend beyond his firing of his police chief, and he is polling at 0% with African-Americans. Unless he can shore up his image problem in this area, he may not be able to achieve the nomination.
#4 – Bernie Sanders
The unyielding Socialist will be likely locked out of the nomination again by the Party. We predict strong resistance against his nomination yet again by Party insiders, which would prove to be a serious hurdle for his nomination chances.
He would fare reasonably well in a 1 on 1 match with Trump, but he would get battered and maligned in the debates for his hard-line Leftist policies. This is a favorable match-up for Trump, despite polling that says otherwise. However, Bernie would still enjoy an ‘enthusiasm’ factor that would carry him through the campaign, and possibly to victory in 2020. His main hurdle remains securing the nomination.
#3 – Kamala Harris
The Senator from California appears to be backed by big Democratic power-brokers, which gives her a huge funding edge. Her downsides will include her role as a former California Attorney General who was perceived to be unfair to minorities and did little to fix her state’s criminal justice system problems. She is also running as the “prosecute Trump” candidate, rather than someone offering a new, positive vision for the future. This negative framing may turn off some voters wishing to look beyond Trump-bashing.
Rank and file Democrats will line up for her at the voting booth, but she will face opposition from Leftist party members who see her as either too mainstream, a ‘Hillary 2.0′ or a part of the problem. As far as perception, Trump may have difficulty maligning her in the way he did Hillary in 2016 (but we have seen a possible opening of attack due to Senator Harris’ association with the Jussie Smollett scandal and other scandals that are popping up for her.)
#2 – Joe Biden
The former Vice President holds a commanding lead in the polls, but it is still far too early in the race to make a prediction based on those polls. Joe Biden’s current position atop the polls is mostly due to two factors: his name recognition and perception of elect-ability. These two factors tend to historically erode over time, as voters learn about other candidates and make more serious decisions about who they support.
The former VP also has a number of drawbacks that may hurt him in the long run. His decades-long voting record and history in Washington D.C. is already coming under scrutiny, and he holds a contentious relationship with Leftists in the Democratic Party. We predict Biden will hold strong but may stagger through the upcoming debates. Biden’s age-related speech problems and his penchant for inappropriate touching and kissing are also major drawbacks. By next year, a new candidate (but familiar one) may have already entered the race to dethrone him.
#1 – Andrew Yang
Mr. Yang is delivering radical ideas that challenge the status-quo unlike any other candidate. Andrew Yang’s Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal involves a $1,000 per month cash dividend for every American Citizen over the age of 18. This new idea could transform the economy, and give the poor a safety net they do not currently have.
Yang offers the most detailed proposals of any candidate on his website, and his qualifications for the presidency are not in question considering his extensive background as a tech CEO and guru. A family man with no known scandals, and former Obama honoree, Yang appears poised to continue to gain supporters and strength. His rallies are also growing in size, despite very little media coverage. Polling also shows he would do very well against Trump, and as a former debate champion, he may also pose a threat to Trump during the debates.
For these reasons, and many others not listed here, we believe Andrew Yang has the #1 chance to remove Trump from office. His extremely popular, hours-long interviews on the Joe Rogan podcast and with Ben Shapiro are a good way to learn more about him.
What about the other candidates?
There are many other candidates in the race, none of whom we consider serious contenders for the Democratic nomination, for various reasons. They include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Beto O’Rourke, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Corey Booker and others listed here. Many of these candidates are likely seeking a VP spot, or laying groundwork for a run in 2024 or 2028.
None of these candidates stand any real chance, in our view; this is mostly due to poor name recognition, lack of funding and a lack of campaign trail skills that serve to create much-required ‘buzz’ or excitement (something candidates like Mr. Buttigieg enjoy, and, indeed, President Trump as well).
The only candidate who stands a chance of rising above the others to beat Trump is Senator Elizabeth Warren, due to the fact she is running a very good campaign so far. However, due to the fact that Sen. Warren has ostensibly stolen many of Bernie Sanders’ policies and re-branded them — despite not supporting him in 2016 — is giving many voters doubts as to whether she is consistent or can be trusted. She is also a former Republican who has wildly shifted her positions over the years, and her head-to-head polling against Trump is among the worst of all the candidates. In other words, he would likely beat her easily.
What are the reasons a candidate wins the presidency?
The reasons a person wins the presidency are roughly divided equally between demographics, party affiliation, funding and personality (or perception).
With respect to demographics, we’ve arguably had a Democratic president ever since 1992 up until 2016, in which Trump managed to win an incredibly close election in improbable fashion. George W. Bush ostensibly “stole” two elections he should have lost (and did lose), first through Supreme Court shenanigans in 2000 against Al Gore, and voting machine irregularities in Ohio in 2004, handing him a second term against John Kerry. Bush’s victories were slim, and made possible by an incredibly well-organized Republican campaign machine that has yet to be replicated since.
The American electorate is increasingly liberal and Democratic, making a Republican presidency going forward less and less likely.
Other factors, such as funding and personality, do play a role in the ultimate outcome. If a candidate lacks enthusiasm, it will result in low turn-out on voting day. If one candidate can win the ‘perception war’ as the ‘stronger’ leader, this is critical to winning. Voters may be willing to cross party and ideological lines for many reasons, including a desire to shift policies, for a candidate with an infectious, likable personality or due to favorable media coverage.
What are the reasons Trump might lose in 2020?
President Donald Trump inherently suffers from serious “perception” issues in which much of the electorate believes, right or wrong, that he is a racist, bigot and promoter of ‘White Nationalism’. These negative stigmas are extremely damaging in terms of garnering votes and support from independents, minorities, women and Democrats. A candidate like Andrew Yang would win all of those groups easily.
Ronald Reagan, a similar populist-style Republican as Trump, was able to gain support among a wide swath of Americans in his reelection bid in 1984 without all of the negative, damaging personal stigmas Trump carries with him. This will be Trump’s primary hurdle – his low personal reputation and likability numbers among voters – which he appears to have made very little effort or inroads in improving.
What are the reasons Trump might win in 2020?
Trump will benefit from a number of positive factors that favor him. His campaign will likely be better organized than his first outing. If the economy remains strong, this will give him an inherent boost of votes on election day. His incumbency favors him, historically, as Americans are less likely to change leadership mid-stream if the country is doing reasonably well.
The president also possesses many intangibles, including an ability to damage opponents, dismantle them and change public perceptions of foes. If he is successful in doing so, he can let the air out of a candidate’s campaign if they become associated with a buzzword or insult he has lobbed at them. His “base” of voters is also extremely loyal to him, which will lock-in guaranteed and enthusiastic votes on election day.
We predict if Trump were to win again, it would be by another thin margin, and may require improbable victories in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Iowa yet again.
If you want to learn more about Andrew Yang, visit my YouTube channel in which I’ve posted a dozen or so videos outlining his policies:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this assessment of the 2020 election. If you disagree or have an opinion, be sure to leave a comment.
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