United States : At more than eighteen months of the presidential election, the first candidates of the opposition party make themselves known. Among them, emerging personalities and for the moment a majority of women, waiting for the trucks to declare themselves.
The race for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election promises to be one of the most open for twenty-five years. Also competitive: new candidates come to clutter the ring every week or almost, to more than a year of the first primary, scheduled for February 3, 2020 in Iowa. And the longest: at the same time, four years ago, no Republican or Democrat had yet declared his candidacy. In an attempt to take over the White House from Donald Trump, seven Democrats are already in the ranks. Among them, with the notable exception of Elizabeth Warren, are few national figures. The first challenge, common to all, will be to fill a strong deficit of notoriety beyond their stronghold.
These seven officially contending contenders form a diverse and predominantly female Areopagus, which already gives these primaries a historical dimension. The only time that more than one woman had run for the Democratic nomination was in 1972. For 2020, four are already on the starting line, in the wake of the record of congressional candidates established in November in Mid-term: Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, three Progressive Senators, and Tulsi Gabbard, 37, Hawaii Representative in the House and the youngest of the race.
Despite this strong female contingent, it is three men who, according to the latest barometer published by CNN in December, arrive at the top of the prognosis. None of them are currently officially candidates. Favorite with 33% of the voting intentions, former Barack Obama vice president, Joe Biden, a native of Pennsylvania’s swing state, remains very popular with blue collar, Donald Trump’s key constituency in 2016. Then comes the senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders (14%), beaten by Hillary Clinton during controversial Democratic primaries in 2016, and still highly regarded by the party’s left wing. On their own, the two septuagenarians embody the ideological divide that promises to be at the heart of the battle of primaries, between centrist and “progressive” democrats.
Finally, the November Midterm Democratic sensation, Beto O’Rourke, completes the so-called leading trio, with 9% of voting intentions. Thanks to a campaign largely inspired by Bernie Sanders, the former elected to the House had narrowly failed to dethrone the Republican senator of Texas, the iconic and very conservative Ted Cruz. At only 46, O’Rourke, almost unknown to the general public a year ago, is now dreaming of a destiny for Obama.
All Democrats wanting to challenge Donald Trump – they could be a dozen or even a fortnight – should formalize their candidacy by early spring. Why so soon, to more than eighteen months of the presidential election, which will take place on November 3, 2020? This is due in particular to the geography and the American political system, which force the pretenders, sometimes underestimated, to cross a country as vast as the European continent. Entering the field early also allows to start raising funds, essential to build teams provided and finance advertising in the key states, upstream of primary.
In addition, for those who have no chance of winning the party nomination for 2020 – because too young, little known or inexperienced – an extended campaign is an investment of the future. It makes it possible to become more known in order to obtain an interesting position in a future administration, or even the vice-presidency of the nominated democratic candidate.
To boost their notoriety, all candidates will try to illustrate themselves during multiple televised debates. Unveiled in December by the party leadership, the schedule looks plethoric indeed: six debates in 2019, six more in 2020. The guarantee of a campaign indigestible and out of the ordinary, like the current president that all dream to dislodge from the White House. Never as comfortable as in a meeting, where he feeds on the adoration of his fans, and in front of the cameras, Donald Trump is waiting impatiently for his rivals to get into the thick of the campaign. To be able to attack them and measure themselves against them. As in 2016, all the blows and lies will be allowed. But this time, the Democrats are warned.