We haven’t even finished counting all of the votes in the 2018 midterms — Florida, Georgia and a number of smaller races remain undecided – but pundits have already moved on, jockeying to give their hot takes on the power rankings for 2020 Democratic presidential nominees.
Of course, there isn’t a lot of news yet. And that’s why the vacuum is being filled with maybes and what-ifs, mostly from Democratic retreads – many of whom have shown no inclination of running at all.
It wouldn’t be a 2020 roundup without the inevitable “Is Hillary running again?” question — and the answer is no, she is not, as she has said repeatedly.
But that isn’t stopping those who claim to be close to her from hinting otherwise. Politico reports:
Two-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will mount a third bid for the White House, longtime Clinton adviser Mark Penn wrote in an op-ed published Sunday by The Wall Street Journal, predicting that the former first lady and secretary of state is readying a “Hillary 4.0″ campaign for 2020.
Of course, as a Clinton adviser Penn has his own reasons for wanting her to run — primarily reasons of personal prestige and influence. If Clinton truly were running again, she would’ve already thrown her considerable presence into the race in order to drive all potential competition out, like she did in 2016.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of contenders already setting up for the very first caucuses and primaries — still well over a year away. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, California Senator Kamala Harris and, yes, even Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are all hiring staff and bulking up for 2020.
However, now that the midterms are over, a few unexpected faces are popping up as well.
One newcomer is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Fresh off a victory over a Republican opponent on November 7, Brown is considering using his new status as a safe seat for six years to fight for the White House.
According to the Cleveland press, Brown said:
My message clearly appeals to Democrats, Republicans and independents. We showed you can get votes by being authentic and standing up for workers. People in Washington don’t understand the dignity of work.
Senator Brown sees his win — supported by Democrats and Republicans — as a sign he has cross-aisle appeal. West Virginia state Senator Richard Ojeda thinks he has that same bipartisan appeal, despite his Election Day loss.
Ojeda, who voted for Trump in 2016, has launched an exploratory committee for president, claiming that his background can peel GOP votes away from President Trump in 2020. Considering that he couldn’t even grab enough votes in West Virginia to win a Congressional seat, well, that may be something Ojeda needs to reevaluate.
Do Democrats want a bipartisan moderate? A rabble-rouser? A progressive extremist? A Trump attack dog? Or someone completely new?
The latest polling from Politico makes one thing clear: Democrats are really into the “B’s” right now. Leading the latest polling is former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and new Texas superhero Beto O’Rourke.
The two septuagenarians — Biden will be 77 on Election Day, 2020, and Sanders will be 79 — are the only two prospective candidates to garner double-digit support. The third-place candidate is Rep. Beto O’Rourke (R-Texas), who built national name-recognition through his losing Senate bid last week, with 8 percent. “Beto O’Rourke is emerging to be an outside contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, outpacing other potential nominees,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president.
O’Rouke stands out from the other two, not just because he’s young, but also because Biden and Sanders both have a sort of “do-over” appeal.
Biden harkens back to the Obama era, a time that has a nearly fairy-tale nostalgia after two years of President Trump. Sanders gives a sense of the “what if” following the 2016 election. O’Rourke, on the other hand, with little political baggage and the feel of a second coming of President Obama, gives the impression of a fresh start for a whole new progressive party.
Too bad he shows no intention of actually wanting to run for president in the first place.
With the 2020 election still over 700 days away, you can be sure that this is just the very beginning of the speculation — and that it will only grow as the year progresses.
But one thing we can absolutely guarantee, no matter how much time passes? Hillary Clinton definitely won’t be running for president. Count on it.