According to a recent survey of Democratic Party strategists, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) leads the pack of potential presidential candidates in 2020.
Washington, DC newspaper The Hill recently surveyed several leading strategists who work for Democratic-aligned causes and candidates, and many of them agreed that Sen. Sanders would likely carry the party’s nomination heading into 2020 despite him facing competition from as many as 30 prospective candidates.
“[Sanders’] people have never gone away,” Brad Bannon, a strategist for unions and progressive causes told The Hill. “He has a loyal core following out there that will be with him come hell or high water.”
Bannon’s assessment of Sanders is fairly spot-on, given Sanders’ recent performance in polls. An October 2018 poll by Morning Consult found that Bernie Sanders was the most popular U.S. Senator in America with his own constituents, with 63 percent of registered Vermont voters having a favorable opinion of their senator. Nationally, Sanders is still popular with a majority of voters, having 52 percent favorability in a September 2018 Harvard-Harris poll.
These popularity numbers may help paint a picture of why Bernie Sanders was able to draw massive crowds, even in the heart of Trump country, in the leadup to the 2018 midterm elections. Sen. Sanders brought out thousands when stumping for left-leaning Democratic candidates in nearly a dozen states, and many of the candidates he endorsed won, like Senator-elect Jacky Rosen in Nevada, Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, and Representative-elect Mike Levin in California.
Other candidates seen as rivals to Sanders in the 2020 primary include former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the only Democrat with a higher favorability rating than Sanders (Biden’s favorability is at 55 percent) in the September 2018 Harvard-Harris poll.
However, Biden could face opposition from the Sanders wing should he declare a run for the presidency, given how his dismissive treatment of Anita Hill resurfaced in the news during the conversation over the sexual misconduct accusations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Biden is also infamous for his role writing the 1990s crime bill that author Michelle Alexander blamed for the mass incarceration epidemic plaguing the black community.
Sen. Sanders came in second place in the 2016 Democratic primary, winning 22 states and more than 1,800 delegates. Even though he lost the primary to Hillary Clinton, Sanders very well may have beaten Donald Trump in the general election, as every hypothetical head-to-head matchup showed Sanders winning by an average of 10 points, according to RealClearPolitics.
Sanders’ age (77) is considered a factor in whether or not he would be successful in a potential 2020 run for the White House, though he’s only one year older than Biden, and only five years older than President Trump — neither of whom have been regarded by pundits as too old to run. Sanders himself recently said he would likely run in 2020 if he’s seen as the best candidate to beat Trump.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.