The Narrowing Democratic Field

The field of major candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is one of the largest in recent history.

As of July 9, 2019, there are 25 major Democratic candidates in the race, 20 of whom participated in the June debates. The size of the field eclipses that of the 2016 Republican field, which—with 17 major candidates—was unusually large.

According to Politico, however, Democratic voters and donors are coalescing around five candidates that have separated themselves from the rest of the group. Those five candidates have raised a total of nearly $100 million during the second quarter of 2019 and are receiving the lion’s share of support in national polls. They are: Former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE); U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA); U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN). RealClearPolitics shows the following national polling data on those five candidates: Biden 27.1%; Sanders 15.3%; Harris 15.0%; Warren 13.7%; and Buttigieg 5.0%. While Mayor Buttigieg lags behind the other candidates in the polls, he enjoyed the highest fundraising total ($25 million) during the most recent reporting period.

It is still early in the 2020 presidential contest. However, with top-tier candidates accumulating large amounts of funding and public support, it will become increasingly difficult for a candidate outside the top tier to break through and become a contender. (A self-funding candidate like billionaire Tom Steyer, who recently entered the race and plans to spend $100 million of his own money on his campaign, may be an exception.) At this stage, it is safe to predict that the Democratic nominee will be one of the current top five. It is also safe to assume that the nominee will not be a New Yorker; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is averaging 0.4% in national polls and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is averaging 0.3%.

The 25 major 2020 Democratic presidential candidates (as of July 9, 2019) are:

Michael Bennet (U.S. Sen., Colorado)

Joe Biden (frmr. Vice President; frmr. U.S. Sen., Delaware) 

Cory Booker (U.S. Sen., New Jersey) 

Steve Bullock (Gov., Montana)

Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend, Indiana)

Julian Castro (frmr. HUD Secretary; frmr. Mayor of San Antonio)

Bill de Blasio (Mayor, New York City)

John Delaney (frmr. U.S. Rep., Maryland)

Tulsi Gabbard (U.S. Rep., Hawaii)

Kirsten Gillibrand (U.S. Sen., New York) 

Mike Gravel (frmr. U.S. Sen., Alaska)

Kamala Harris (U.S. Sen., California)

John Hickenlooper (frmr. Gov., Colorado) 

Jay Inslee (Gov., Washington) 

Amy Klobuchar (U.S. Sen., Minnesota)

Wayne Messam (Mayor, Miramar, Florida)

Seth Moulton (U.S. Rep., Massachusetts)

Beto O’Rourke (frmr. U.S. Rep., Texas)

Tim Ryan (U.S. Rep., Ohio) 

Bernie Sanders (U.S. Sen., Vermont)

Joe Sestak (frmr. U.S. Rep., Pennsylvania)

Tom Steyer (businessman)

Elizabeth Warren (U.S. Sen., Massachusetts)

Marianne Williamson (author)

Andrew Yang (businessman)

The following major candidates have already ended their 2020 presidential campaigns:

Richard Ojeda (State Rep., West Virginia)

Eric Swalwell (U.S. Rep., California)