Democratic 2020 Presidential Candidates Ranked - Rolling Stone
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The RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard

Ranking the contenders jockeying to confront Trump

Photo Illustration images: Getty images (2), Flag: Shutterstock

Using South Carolina as a springboard, Joe Biden has won resounding victories across three weeks of primary contests that have put him on track to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Bernie Sanders, lagging far behind in delegates, is not done just yet. He’s a hit with voters under 50, with Latinos, liberals and independents. But his inability to break through with black voters has him on the ropes. Sanders counted on a head-to-head debate to draw contrasts with Biden and regain momentum. That strategy has failed. It’s hard to imagine his path.

Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the race on March 19th. The field is down to two and the ranking is obvious:

RELATED: RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Policy Guide

1) Joe Biden

Biden always said, wait for South Carolina. And he was right. With overwhelming support from the African American community, he turned his campaign’s fortunes around in a romp. He racked up 10 wins on Super Tuesday, and continued to score delegate wins from Michigan to Mississippi a week later. The former vice president offers America a seductive promise a reboot from the Trump catastrophe and a return to the sanity of the Obama era. And many rank-and-file Democrats, particularly older voters and voters of color, seem happy to fall in line behind Biden, 77. At his Philadelphia kickoff rally last May, Biden touted his record as a Mr. Fixit: “I know how to make government work.”
Signature Policy: Biden has peerless foreign policy credentials and isn’t afraid to tout them: “I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he’s said. “I know as much about American foreign policy [as] anyone around, including even maybe Kissinger.” (Read more about Biden’s platform.)
Signature Apology: “I’m sorry I didn’t understand more,” Biden told reporters after being rebuked by multiple women for his space-invader style of politics. “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. So that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sakes.”
Delegates: 1133
RS Coverage:
Joe Biden Is Not Helping

2) Bernie Sanders

The 78-year-old Sanders is riding a potent combination of people-power and cash — and claimed California, the richest delegate prize of Super Tuesday. The campaign’s focus on grassroots organizing is peerless in the 2020 field, and he’s built his campaign with the help of more than 1.6 million individual donors, raising a whopping $34.5 million in the fourth quarter. Sanders is seen as the uncompromising champion of Medicare for All, and one-upped Warren’s income-based college debt relief by calling for a complete wipeout of the nation’s $1.6 trillion in student debt. He recently received a clean bill of health after an October heart attack, but has backtracked on releasing his complete medical records.
Signature Policy: Sanders’ 2016 campaign set the table for 2020. He gets full credit for mainstreaming a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college. Sanders recently introduced the “For the 99.8% Act” that would sharply increase the estate tax, including imposing a 77 percent tax on estates in excess of $1 billion, raising an estimated $315 billion over a decade. (Read more about Sanders’ platform.)
Signature Apology: Sanders apologized to former female staffers for a 2016 campaign marred by pay disparities and allegations of sexual harassment by male staffers, promising to “do better” moving forward.
Delegates: 833
RS Coverage:
On the Trail With Bernie Sanders 2.0

2020 Campaign Graveyard

Here lie the presidential ambitions of fallen Democratic contenders:

Tulsi Gabbard
Dropped Out: 3/19/20 after 411 days
Parting Words: “Our nation is facing an unprecedented global crisis… The best way I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and well-being of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress.”
Last Wish:
“That we stand hand in hand and work together to defeat this new enemy, the coronavirus.”
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Elizabeth Warren
Dropped Out: 3/5/20, after 390 days
Parting Words: “I may not be in the race for president in 2020, but this fight — our fight — is not over. And our place in this fight has not ended.”
Last Wish: “Nevertheless, you must persist.”
Delegates: 49

Mike Bloomberg
Dropped Out:
3/4/20, after 101 days — and more than half a billion dollars spent.
Parting Words: “Three months ago, I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult.”
Last Wish: “I am cleareyed about our overriding objective, and that is victory in November.”
Delegates: 58
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Amy Klobuchar
Dropped Out: 3/2/20, after 386 days
Parting Words: “So many people joined us and supported us as we carried forward with this simple but fundamental message: that it is time for Americans to join hands instead of pointing fingers.”
Last Wish: “We need to unite our party and our country, and to do it not just with our words but with our actions. It is up to all of us to put our country back together, to heal this country, and then to build something even greater.”
Delegates: 7
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Pete Buttigieg
Dropped Out:
3/1/20, after 322 days
Parting Words: “The truth is that the path has narrowed to a close, for our candidacy if not for our cause … Tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency.”
Last Wish: “We need leadership to heal a divided nation, not drive us further apart. We need a broad based agenda to truly deliver for the American people, not one that gets lost in ideology. We need an approach strong enough not only to win the White House, but hold the House, win the Senate and send Mitch McConnell into retirement.”
Delegates: 26
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Tom Steyer
Dropped Out:
2/29/20, after 236 days
Parting Words: “I will continue to fight in the most impactful ways possible to make sure Democrats take back the White House.”
Last Wish: “That our country takes real action on climate change, and that we take meaningful steps towards righting the racial and economic injustices that plague our society.”

Deval Patrick
Dropped Out: 2/12/20, after 89 days
Parting Words: “The vote in New Hampshire … was not enough for us to create the practical wind at the campaign’s back to go onto the next round of voting.”
Last Wish: “We have a unique opportunity to use our shared pain redemptively to bring the country together. No one can stand on the sidelines at a time like this.”

Michael Bennet
Dropped Out:
2/11/20, after 285 days
Parting Words: “I feel nothing but joy tonight as we conclude this campaign and this chapter.”
Last Wish: “I love our country. I love the idea of democracy. And I want to pass it on to the next generation.”

Andrew Yang
Dropped Out: 2/11/20, after 827 days
Parting Words: “I stand before you today and say that while we did not win this election, we are just getting started. This is the beginning.”
Last Wish: “I hope this campaign can be a message and a word of caution and guidance to my Democratic colleagues that Donald Trump is not the cause of all of our problems.”

John Delaney
Dropped Out: 1/31/20, after 918 days
Parting Words: “It has been a privilege to campaign for the Democratic nomination for President, but it is clear that God has a different purpose for me at this moment in time.”
Last Wish: “Let’s stop the nonsense of unrealistic and divisive campaign promises and be the party the American people need — a decent, unifying, future-focused and common-sense party.”

Cory Booker
Dropped Out: 1/13/20, after 347 days
Parting Words: “It is my faith in us, my faith in us together as a nation, that we share common pain and common problems that can only be solved with a common purpose and a sense of common cause.”
Last Wish: “We may have challenges right now in our nation, but together we will rise.”

Marianne Williamson
Dropped Out: 1/10/20, after 346 days
Parting Words: “A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love will prevail.”
Last Wish: “These are not times to despair; they are simply times to rise up.”
Endorsement: Bernie Sanders

Julián Castro
Dropped Out: 1/2/20, after 355 days
Parting Words: “I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight.”
Last Wish: “I’m not done fighting. I’ll keep working towards a nation where everyone counts, a nation where everyone can get a good job, good health care and a decent place to live.”
Endorsement: Elizabeth Warren

Kamala Harris
Dropped Out:
  12/3/19, after 316 days
Parting Words: “Our campaign has been about fighting for people whose voices that have not been heard or too often ignored. We will keep up that fight.”
Last Wish: That her supporters “keep fighting for the America we believe in, an America free of injustice.”

Steve Bullock
Dropped Out:  12/2/19, after 202 days
Parting Words: “It has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates.”
Last Wish: That “we confront our greatest challenges head-on and lead the way in the community of nations.”

Joe Sestak
Dropped Out:  12/1/19, after 62 days
Parting Words: “Without the privilege of national press, it is unfair to ask others to husband their resolve and sacrifice resources any longer.”
Last Wish: For a president to repair our tattered social fabric: “It can be repaired by someone who can lead, and therefore unite, America.”

Wayne Messam
Dropped Out:  11/20/19, after 238 days
Parting Words: “Although the campaign goal of becoming President was not realized at this moment… we have impacted this 2020 campaign… by challenging the status quo and not waiting our turn to make difference and to spark change.”
Last Wish: That we all “take a stand to ensure the American Dream that attracted my parents and so many others to this great nation can still be achieved.”

Beto O’Rourke
Dropped Out: 11/01/19, after 232 days
Parting Words: “We laid bare the cost and consequence of Donald Trump: the rise in hate crimes, the terror attack in El Paso, the perversion of the Constitution, the diminished standing of the United States around the world.”
Last Wish: “Let us continue to fearlessly champion the issues and causes that brought us together. Whether it is ending the epidemic of gun violence or dismantling structural racism or successfully confronting climate change before it is too late.”
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Tim Ryan
Dropped Out: 10/24/19, after 200 days
Parting Words: “I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country. I look forward to continuing that fight.”
Last Wish: Ryan is seeking House reelection in Ohio so that the voice of “forgotten communities that have been left behind by globalization and automation” will not be “stifled.”
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Bill de Blasio
Dropped Out: 9/20/19, after 128 days
Parting Words: “I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary election. It’s clearly not my time.”
Last Wish: “Democrats must return to our roots as a party focused on bold solutions that speak to the concerns of working people.”
Endorsement: Bernie Sanders

Kirsten Gillibrand
Dropped Out: 8/28/19, after 225 days
Parting Words: “We led the fights we can’t afford to lose for women and families — and moved the entire field along with us.”
Last Wish: “We have to defeat President Trump, flip the Senate and elect women up and down the ballot.”

Seth Moulton
Dropped Out: 8/23/19, after 124 days
Parting Words: “I will be campaigning my ass off for whoever wins our nomination in 2020.”
Last Wish: That Americans embrace hope: “Hope is what gets us, as individuals, through the darkest of times. And it is what will lead our country through the darkest of times as well.”
Endorsement: Joe Biden

Jay Inslee
Dropped Out: 8/21/19, after 174 days
Parting Words: “It’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball. I’m not going to be the president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.”
Last Wish: That the climate crisis “must be the top priority for our next president.” And a third term as governor in the other Washington: “I want to continue to stand with you in opposing Donald Trump and rejecting his hurtful and divisive agenda, while strengthening and enhancing Washington state’s role as a progressive beacon for the nation.”

John Hickenlooper
Dropped Out:
8/15/19, after 164 days
Parting Words:
“I ran for president because this country is being ripped apart, by politics and partisan games, while our biggest problems go unsolved.”
Last Wish:
A different national office. “I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. I intend to give that some serious thought.” (Hickenlooper announced his Senate bid less than a week later.)

Mike Gravel
Dropped Out:
8/6/19, after 126 days
Parting Words:
“I am proud and honored to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States.”
Last Wish:
That Americans vote for democratic socialism over “Republican socialism, which benefits the one percent and leads us to a constant state of war.”
Endorsement: Bernie Sanders

Eric Swalwell
Dropped Out:
7/8/19, after 91 days
Parting Words:
“Weaknesses will be flushed out and a leader will emerge.”
Last Wish:
That the eventual nominee supports an assault-weapons ban and buyback.

Richard Ojeda
Dropped Out:
1/25/19, after 79 days
Parting Words:
“When I was a kid in grade school, my teachers always said that anyone could grow up and become president. Unfortunately, what I’m starting to realize is that unless you have wealth, influence, and power, it’s not gonna happen.”
Last Wish:
“Whoever does win the presidency needs to be somebody who is willing to check Big Pharma.”

Love our rankings? Disagree with a passion? Tell us what we got right — or wrong — on Twitter: @RSPolitics. This leaderboard is updated regularly.

In This Article: 2020 election


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