POWER RANKING: Here's who has the best chance of becoming the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee




 

Reuters


With 23 major candidates in the race, the Democratic the 2020 presidential field is set to be one of the largest, most competitive, and most unpredictable in modern history.

To help make sense of where all these candidates stand in the field, INSIDER has been conducting a recurring SurveyMonkey Audience national poll. You can download every single poll here, down to the individual respondent data.

Read more about how the INSIDER 2020 Democratic primary tracker works.

At this point in the race, we're mainly interested in using our polling to figure out:

We've combined INSIDER's polling and results of Morning Consult's daily survey of the 2020 Democratic primary in order to create a power ranking of declared and potential 2020 candidates.

We switched up our ranking following the first Democratic primary debates, which took place on June 26 and June 27, and saw some candidates stand out from the pack while others faltered. But since then, the field has been in somewhat of a holding pattern with no dramatic shifts either way.

Read more: The DNC just made it harder to get on the debate stage and the crowded field of candidates could get a lot smaller very soon

We upgraded former Vice President Joe Biden back to first place after he successfully recovered and bounced back from sharp criticism from Sen. Kamala Harris in the first Democratic debate, in which she knocked him over his record on racial issues and on school busing, making him appear weak on stage.

Also this week, we removed Rep. Eric Swalwell, who dropped out of the race on July 8, from our ranking, and added billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who became a late entry to the Democratic field on July 9 and pledged to spend $100 million on his own campaign.

Here's what our ranking looks like as of July 12, 2019.

22: Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton.

Craig Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Moulton, who became the 19th Democrat to enter the primary on April 22, is polling at 0% in Morning Consult's surveys.

He came out ahead of the curve on impeaching Trump ahead of many other 2020 contenders, and also made news by opening up about being treated for PTSD following his service in the Marine Corps, and unveiling a plan to improve mental health care for active-duty servicemembers and veterans.

But since he still hasn't reached the required 1% in three approved polls to make the first debate, he fell five spots in our ranking back down to 22nd place on June 7, and is currently in last place due to not having qualified for the first Democratic debates in June, and still being at risk of not qualifying for the next debates at the end of July.

Read more about Seth Moulton's campaign.



21: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Steve Bullock became the 22nd candidate to enter the race on May 14.

Even though he's currently polling at 0% in Morning Consult, Bullock had a surprisingly impressive first week of his candidacy. We moved up him seven spots from 18th to 11th place in our ranking in May.

Bullock raised $1 million in the first 24 hours of his candidacy and has been able to attract some sizeable crowds and support from statewide and local politicians in Iowa.

Despite his strong opening week, Bullock had the rug pulled out from under him in terms of qualifying for the debates when the DNC retroactively disqualified one of the polls in which Bullock reached 1%, so we moved him down to 24th place.

Bullock did secure 1% in a third poll in order to qualify for the next round of debates in July, so we moved him up to 21st place on July 1.

Read more about Steve Bullock's campaign.



21: Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

Associated Press

Delaney enjoys a surprising amount of name recognition but has been unable to translate that into any support in a meaningful way.

He's among those at 1 percent in Morning Consult polls. According to INSIDER's polling, he's known by about 20 percent of Democrats, but has been unable to build a base of support unlike other candidates with similar levels of attention, such as Pete Buttigieg or John Hickenlooper.

While Delaney has met the polling requirement for the June debates, we dropped him one spot in our ranking between May 31 and June 7 after he publicly picked a fight with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and ended up on the losing side.

We dropped him further down to 21st place on June 21 given that he was one of five candidates to cite Abraham Lincoln as his political hero in The New York Times' 18 questions video series. We moved every candidate who answered with Lincoln down one spot for the lack of creativity.

Read more about John Delaney's campaign.



20: Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel

AP Photo/Jim Cole

Gravel, 88, is running perhaps the most unique 2020 campaign. Managed by three high-school and college-aged students, the main goal of Gravel's candidacy is to get to the debate stage - and get US imperialism and foreign policy in the 2020 discussion.

Not only has Gravel's candidacy has generated a lot of online buzz with his staff's eye-catching tweets, but he's even achieved 1% in a few polls, although he hasn't yet registered on Morning Consult's radar.

While he's unlikely to win, he and his staff are having the most fun on social media, rolling out some eye-catching new Instagram memes and having the teens running his campaign being profiled by The New York Times magazine.



19: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio

Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx via AP

The candidacy of Bill de Blasio, who entered the race on May 16, is one of the most unusual given

A Monmouth University poll released in March found that of 12 declared and potential Democratic presidential candidates, de Blasio was the only potential contender to receive a negative favorability rating, with 18% of respondents holding a favorable view of the mayor compared with 24% with an unfavorable opinion of him.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in April also found that only is de Blasio's approval rating underwater in New York City, but an overwhelming 76% of New Yorkers also believed De Blasio shouldn't run for president.

But despite his underwater approval rating and 1% support in Morning Consult, we moved de Blasio up five spots from 23rd to 18th place on July 1 thanks to his surprisingly strong showing in the first Democratic debate.

Like a true New York politician, de Blasio made his voice heard at the debates, and took a shot at former Rep. Beto O'Rourke over healthcare. He also gave a passionate defense of redistributing wealth from the wealthy to the poor, and discussed criminal justice and police brutality in the context of raising his biracial son.

Read more about Bill de Blasio's campaign.



18: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Hickenlooper has modest name recognition at best, and hasn't been able to translate his strong track record serving 15 years in public office in Colorado and stature as one of the only governors in the race into tangible support.

Hickenlooper is not widely perceived as being able to beat Trump in INSIDER polling, has not gone above 1% in Morning Consult polls all year, and didn't report particularly strong first-quarter fundraising.

Hickenlooper originally pitched himself as a centrist, business-friendly Democrat and an experienced deal-maker - which is exactly the approach Biden is taking, crowding out Hickenlooper's message.

Given the significant polling bump Biden received after his announcement and his cross-coalitional base of support, it's hard to see how Hickenlooper can maintain any unique appeal with Biden sucking up so much air.

We moved Hickenlooper down another spot to 16th place on June 21 and to 17th place on July 1.

Read more about John Hickenlooper's campaign.



17: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Tim Ryan is in the tier of candidates polling behind people who have not entered the race.

While Ryan is pitching himself as a pro-labor alternative to Trump for Rust-Belt voters, he sows doubt about his ability to beat Trump in the general.

He has only climbed to 1% in Morning Consult in the past two weeks and does not have national name recognition, even compared to other former members of the House.

We moved Ryan down four spots fin May given that of former Vice President Joe Biden's entry into the race somewhat crowded out Ryan and his message.

Ryan pitched his campaign on his blue-collar, working-class appeal and his track record winning in rural communities, which is the exact lane Biden is successfully running in.

But we moved Ryan back up one spot to 16th place on June 7 given his meeting the polling requirement for the first Democratic debate, and another spot to 15th place on June 21.

Read more about Tim Ryan's campaign.



16: Businessman Tom Steyer

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Steyer, who is 62, achieved billionaire status an investor and hedge fund manager - but has since focused his efforts on advancing Democratic causes with two organizations: Need To Impeach, and NextGen America, the latter of which is focused on combating climate change and electing climate-focused Democrats into office.

He entered the race late on July 9, and has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his presidential race. To put that in context, the highest-fundraising candidate of 2019's second quarter - Mayor Pete Buttigieg - raised $24.8 million, just a quarter of that amount.

In determining where to place Steyer in our ranking, we wondered: "which candidates are worth more than Tom Steyer and $100 million?"

Given the TV ads and campaign infrastructure that money can buy, we placed him ahead of several of the lowest-polling and lowest-fundraising candidates, but we're still not sure that $100 million can buy him more support and better polling numbers than the ones above him.



15: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Bennet, who recently underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, formally announced his presidential campaign on May 2.

But Bennet - who has been in the US Senate for 10 years - currently has the distinction of being both the least-recognized and worst-polling individual with any political experience in the 2020 field.

Bennet is at 1% in Morning Consult's polling, and his would-be constituency has not yet materialized, but he got lucky and met the polling requirement for the first Democratic debates because people who don't know who he is still picked him as their first choice in a CNN poll.

Because of his debate qualification, we moved Bennet up two spots from 20th to 18th place between May 31 and June 7, but dropped him a point for being one of the candidates to mention Lincoln as his political hero.

We moved Bennet up to 15th place in our ranking on July 12th due to his solid performance in the first Democratic debates, Swalwell dropping out, which benefited the rest of the lower-tier candidates.

Read more about Michael Bennet's campaign.



14: Marianne Williamson.

Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

Despite having one of the longest-running campaigns, Williamson, a motivational speaker and New Age spiritual guru, has not been capable of consolidating support or name recognition.

Williamson raised $1.5 million in 2019's first quarter and earned the 65,000 individual donors required to make the first Democratic debates.

Despite her low name recognition and lack of political experience, we moved her up nine spots from 22nd place to 13th in early June, since she's met both requirements to qualify for the first debates in late June.

But we moved her down one spot to 15th place on June 25 given the controversy she found herself in after making vaccine-skeptic comments at a campaign event, and falsely accusing pollsters of deliberately excluding her supporters from polls.

Read more about Marianne Williamson's campaign.



13: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Paul Sancya/AP Images

Gillibrand, while known by around 40% of likely Democratic primary voters, according to INSIDER polling, has been struggling considerably in the shadow of Harris and Sanders.

She has fairly miserable polling numbers for a candidate of her caliber, not breaking through 0-2% in Morning Consult surveys despite being one of the first to announce.

Gillibrand's supporters also like many of the other candidates ahead of her, and just 14% of respondents polled by INSIDER believe she could beat Trump in a general election match-up - the worst result of all the female candidates, and third-lowest overall.

Gillibrand hasn't been able to improve in the polls in the past month, or attain the 65,000 required donors to meet the fundraising threshold to qualify for the Democratic debates in June.

While she's still short by 5,000 donors to meet the grassroots fundraising requirement, we moved Gillibrand up two spots from 16th to 13th place from May 31 to June 25 given her previous strong week of fundraising driven by her passionate recent activism on behalf of reproductive rights.

Read more about Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign.



12: Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

YouTube

Gabbard has some serious viability problems among Democrats.

Not only do a significant proportion of respondents in INSIDER polling say they are unhappy with her as the nominee compared to her rivals, but Gabbard has not been able to consolidate support in a meaningful way.

Despite being one of the first to enter the race, Gabbard is still polling at 1% in Morning Consult and is considered a less viable opponent to President Donald Trump in the general election than most other candidates.

Unlike other candidates, Gabbard isn't running in the same lane as Biden and still has a unique message.

Read more about Tulsi Gabbard's campaign.



11: Andrew Yang.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Yang, despite the low name recognition that accompanies running for POTUS without any political experience, is actually doing fairly well in INSIDER polling.

He isn't a favorite by any measure, polling at 1% in Morning Consult, but his online army of supporters and meme creators, known as the Yang Gang, helped Yang raise $1.7 million in just seven weeks almost entirely from small donations.

Yang's candidacy will test whether his unprecedented online popularity, an asset very few candidates have in this election, can translate not just into fundraising dollars but also into votes.

Yang has been able to sustain the buzz around his campaign for weeks despite his lack of political experience, has built a grassroots network of 110,000 unique donors, and hasn't let former Vice President Joe Biden's entrance into the race undermine his unique appeal and policy ideas.

Read more about Andrew Yang's campaign.



10: Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

For a three-term congressman, O'Rourke impressively commanded the attention of Democrats by coming within striking distance of beating Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race, shattering fundraising records along the way.

Half of those likely to participate in the field are aware of him, the best result for anyone not a senator or former vice president, and a testament to the energy surrounding his 2018 Senate race.

According to INSIDER polling, 31% of respondents believe O'Rourke could beat Trump - the third-highest of any candidate and only below only Sen. Sanders and former VP Biden.

In the past few weeks, O'Rourke's poll numbers have begun falling at a rapid pace despite a campaign re-launch effort and media tour.

O'Rourke's numbers in Morning Consult have dipped from 6% in late April to 2% in early July. And in the past two months of Quinnipiac University's polling, O'Rourke's support has plummeted from 12% in late March to just 2% as of May 21.

We've dropped O'Rourke down to the bottom of the top 10 due to his still-declining poll numbers and his weak pref romance at the first Democratic debates, where he was schooled on immigration by Julián Castro, the other Texan on stage.

Read more about Beto O'Rourke's campaign.



9: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Ted S. Warren/AP

Among serious candidates with political experience at any level, Inslee is doing among the poorest when it comes to generating attention in the field.

Despite currently serving as a chief executive and previously serving in Congress for 15 years, he's barely managed to secure 1% in the Morning Consult polls.

While Inslee's performance in the polls hasn't markedly improved, we moved Inslee up a spot from 10th place to 9th place on July 12.

His ambitious climate plan and his ongoing push for a DNC climate debate helped him make a powerful ally in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and situate him as a principled fighter for climate action.

Read more about Jay Inslee's campaign.



8: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Klobuchar is known by about a third of the Democratic electorate, and she has one of the better-perceived chances of beating Trump, according to INSIDER polling.

She's still overshadowed by her other Senate colleagues with higher name recognition and is the least well-known person of all senators running for president in INSIDER polling.

Klobuchar is currently polling at 1% in Morning Consult. She's remained in 8th place in our ranking for several weeks.

While Klobuchar famously launched her campaign in a snowstorm, her position in the top 10 is melting away, and she will likely fall in our ranking in the near future.

She's held on to 8th place by virtue of her position as a Senator, but since has slipped to the doldrums of 1% along with far lesser-known candidates as her campaign has lost buzz.

Read more about Amy Klobuchar's campaign.



7: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for The Human Rights Campaign

Cory Booker is known by half of likely Democratic primary voters, but has not been able to translate that into good polling numbers, staying stagnant at 3-4% of the vote for the duration of 2019 in Morning Consult surveys.

His support is precarious in the sense that people who like Booker also like lots of other candidates.

75% of Booker supporters would be happy with Joe Biden, 66% would be satisfied with Kamala Harris, and 50% would be happy with Beto O'Rourke or Elizabeth Warren as the nominees, according to INSIDER polling.

We moved Booker up two spots the week of June 24 due to his strong week in media coverage. He seized on an opportunity to strongly denounce racism and take a shot at Biden after Biden waxed poetic about his ability to in the 1970s to work with pro-segregation Senators without Booker overplaying his hand.

But Booker quickly faded into the background of the field after the debates, leading us to drop him back down to 6th place on July 12.

Read more about Cory Booker's campaign.



6: Former San Antonio Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

Jae C. Hong/AP

While around one-third of Democrats surveyed are aware of Castro, this has not translated into good polling numbers for the former cabinet secretary.

According to Morning Consult, Castro has been in the doldrums of polling at 1% for 2019. And he only raised $1.1 million in 2019's first quarter, less than other lesser-known candidates like Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, and John Hickenlooper.

Moreover, many of Castro's supporters would be satisfied with other candidates, according to INSIDER polling.

Sen. Kamala Harris, in particular, is consolidating a base of support that could eat Castro's lunch in early primary states like California, Nevada, South Carolina, and Arizona.

But Castro took advantage of the first Democratic primary debate to establish himself as an expert and moral authority on the issue of immigration, putting the pressure on fellow candidates to support decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, and taking a strategic shot at fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke on the subject.

Due to his strong performance, we moved Castro up four spots from 11th to 7th place on July 1, and another spot up to 6th place on July 12 for reaching the 13o,000 donors to qualify for the September debates.

Read more about Julian Castro's campaign.



5: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Bebeto Matthews/AP Images

Mayor Pete is having a moment. Despite low overall name recognition, he's recently enjoyed a strong past few months in the polls and in fundraising.

The Democratic primary voters who do know him are fairly confident in his ability to beat Trump, compared to his more experienced and nationally known rivals, INSIDER polling found.

Buttigieg has enjoyed a considerable polling bump. In late April, Morning Consult has him ranked third behind Biden and Sanders at 8%, up from 0% in late February and 1% in March. He's currently at 7% tied for fourth place.

We initially underrated Buttigieg's chances, given the quickness of his rise and the nature of national electoral politics, but moved him up three spots ahead of Booker, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand in the May 10 version of our ranking, and one spot about O'Rourke on May 24, but moved him down to 6th place on June 21 due to Booker leapfrogging him.

While Buttigieg's numbers have slightly dipped in Morning Consult's polling, his sustained strong performance across multiple polls both shows he's not a flavor-of-the-month candidate and has lots of potential room to grow when his name recognition increases.

Read more about Pete Buttigieg's campaign.



4: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Sanders enjoys widespread name recognition among Democrats from his decades serving in Congress and his 2016 run against Hillary Clinton. He's also established a grass-roots army of small donors that helped him lead the pack in fundraising with an $18.2 million haul in 2019's first quarter.

He is considered the top rival of Biden, and 37% think Sanders would beat Trump in a general election compared to 10% who think he'd lose, according to INSIDER polling.

Furthermore, INSIDER polling found that Sanders would be a satisfactory nominee for half of Biden supporters, which could seriously benefit him in case Biden's candidacy falters.

According to Morning Consult, Sanders is supported by 19% of Democrats- down three points from April 28.

We downgraded Sanders from second to third place between June 7 and June 14 due to Warren surpassing him in three polls, and down to fourth place on July 1 due to his lackluster debate performance.

With Warren's surge, Sanders is now in the position of having to be on the defensive early in the process, with maxed-out name recognition and sliding poll numbers.

Read more about Bernie Sanders' campaign.



3: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Among the candidates who have not previously run for president, Warren is the most well-known and considered to be a strong contender against Trump in a general election.

Warren overlaps considerably with Sanders and Biden's bases, with 40% of Biden and 40% of Sanders supporters also being satisfied with her as the nominee in INSIDER polling.

This puts her in a good position as a possible strong compromise choice if either or both of Biden and Sanders' campaigns end up falling flat.

Despite her name recognition, however, INSIDER polling respondents don't think Warren can beat Trump as easily as Biden, Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris or Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Warren is currently in third place at 11% in Morning Consult polling and has recently become the second most-discussed candidate on cable news behind Biden, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

She's also overtaken Sanders for second place behind Biden in a YouGov/Economist poll, a Monmouth University poll of Nevada, and a UC Berkeley/Los Angeles Times poll of California.

Read more about Elizabeth Warren's campaign.



2: California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Kamala Harris is fairly well-known for a first-term senator, and is perceived as being most able to defeat Trump in a general election out of all the senators running for president for the first time.

Harris also enjoys the greatest support among other candidates' supporters, INSIDER polling found.

73% of Gillibrand supporters, 72% of Klobuchar supporters, 67% of Buttigieg, 76% of Castro and 67% of Hickenlooper supporters would also be satisfied with Harris as the Democratic nominee, meaning she could consolidate a lot of support when her rivals drop out.

We upgraded Harris from 4th place to 1st place after her strong performance at the first round of Democratic debates. She took a strategic shot at Biden over his record on racial issues and opposition to busing, both establishing herself as an authority on racial issues, putting Biden on the defense, and knocking him down from his frontrunner status.

In the wake of the debate, Harris' support shot up from 6% in 12% in Morning Consult's survey, and the percentage of likely Democratic primary voters who would be satisfied with her as the nominee increased from 51% to 64% in INSIDER polling.

She also raised $2 million in just 24 hours after her debate performance.

Read more about Kamala Harris' campaign.

Read more:

Kamala Harris had her biggest day of fundraising after attacking Joe Biden's record on race during the Democratic debate

Meet Marianne Williamson, the motivational speaker and Oprah Winfrey pal who confused pretty much everyone at the Democratic debates

3 reasons why Kamala Harris' tear of Joe Biden is so devastating for the former veep



1: Former Vice President and Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Associated Press/Nati Harnik

Biden, who announced his long-awaited presidential bid on April 25, has unparalleled name recognition among Democrats from his eight years as President Barack Obama's vice president and 36 years in the US Senate.

Biden is also the only candidate who more than half of Democrats believe can win against Trump - according to INSIDER polling.

But Biden's frontrunner status took a big hit in the weeks leading up to and including the first Democratic debate, with his support in Morning Consult falling from 38% to 33% after the debate, and the percentage of Democratic primary voters who would be dissatisfied with him as the nominee increasing from 17 to 25% in INSIDER polling.

First, he made controversial remarks fondly remembering his time finding common ground with Senators who supported segregation, and then lashed at out at Booker when called upon to apologize.

And in the debates, Biden came off as weak and under-prepared in response to passionate and highly personal criticism from Sen. Kamala Harris over his record on racial issues, when she called Biden's touting his previous working with pro-segregation Senators as "personal and hurtful."

Despite taking a hit at the debates, Biden has managed to recover, and bounced back to be in first place in our ranking.

Read more about Joe Biden's campaign.



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