POWER RANKING: Here’s who has the best chance of becoming the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives at a rally with striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston

caption
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives at a rally with striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston
source
Reuters

With 21 declared candidates in the race, the Democratic the 2020 presidential field is set to be one of the largest, most competitive, and most unpredictable in modern history.

To help make sense of where all these candidates stand in the field, INSIDER has been conducting a recurring SurveyMonkey Audience national poll. You can download every single poll here, down to the individual respondent data.

We choose not to focus on the overall percentage of Democratic voters that would be satisfied in the event a candidate became the nominee. Instead, we’re looking for conditional probability: given that a voter likes Candidate A, how often do they like Candidate B, and how is that different than Candidate B’s overall performance.

Read more about how the INSIDER 2020 Democratic primary tracker works.

At this point in the race, we’re mainly interested in using our polling to figure out:

  • What percentage of Democratic voters are familiar with each candidate in the first place.
  • How Democrats rate each candidate’s chances of beating President Donald Trump in a general election match-up.
  • If a given candidate were to drop out of the race, who their supporters would flock to next.

We’ve combined INSIDER’s polling and results of Morning Consult’s daily survey of the 2020 Democratic primary in order to create a power ranking of declared and potential 2020 candidates.

As of now, former VP Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren hold the top three spots in our ranking.

Compared to the last version of our ranking published on April 30, we’ve upgraded Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Stacey Abrams, and downgraded Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Rep. Tim Ryan.

These rankings will be subject to change as we get new information, but at this stage in the cycle, we’re mainly interested in how a candidate’s name is resonating and how many voters think they can beat Trump.

Here’s what our ranking looks like as of May 10, 2019.


23: Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam.

Messam, who announced on March 28, isn’t registering in Morning Consult’s polling yet and will have an uphill battle attracting voters and donors as such a late entry into the field with very limited name recognition.

More importantly, it seems like his campaign already fell apart at the seams just weeks after its official launch.

According to a recent report in the Miami New Times, several campaign staffers have already quit after the campaign couldn’t make payroll, and the campaign hasn’t sent out any press releases in almost a month.

The campaign subsequent recently sent a memo, obtained by the New Times, informing remaining staff that Messam’s wife Angela has “consolidated all of the financial and banking assets of the campaign under her exclusive control” and is “refusing to issue paychecks.”


22: Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton.

caption
Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton.
source
Craig Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Moulton, who became the 19th Democrat to enter the primary on April 22, isn’t registering on Morning Consult’s radar yet.

Because of his low name recognition as a third-term congressman and his very recent entry into the race, we’re placing him at the back of the pack until we get more information about his performance compared to the rest of the field.

Read more about Seth Moulton.


21: California Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Swalwell, a 38-year-old three-term congressman from California, entered the race on April 8, and isn’t registering yet on Morning Consult polling.

Swalwell has scant name recognition and is mainly known for his involvement in the Trump-Russia probes as a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

While Swalwell isn’t basing his campaign around the Trump-Russia probe, it doesn’t appear to be a promising path to the presidency when it comes to issues voters care about.

Even though Swalwell is pitching himself as the gun control candidate, that approach may be met with mixed effect and leaves him open to the risk of betting his candidacy on a non-politically salient issue.

Read more about Eric Swalwell’s campaign.


20: Marianne Williamson.

caption
Marianne Williamson.
source
Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

Despite having one of the longest-running campaigns, Williamson, a motivational speaker and New Age spiritual guru, has not been capable of consolidating support or name recognition.

Williamson raised $1.5 million in 2019’s first quarter and earned the 65,000 individual donors required to make the first Democratic debates.

While she’s made a decent showing for a candidate without any political experience or high name recognition, it may not be enough to sustain her candidacy long-term.

Read more about Marianne Williamson’s campaign.


19: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

Bennet, who recently underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, formally announced his presidential campaign on May 2.

But Bennet – who has been in the US Senate for 10 years – currently has the distinction of being both the least-recognized and worst-polling individual with any political experience in the 2020 field.

Bennet is not registering on Morning Consult’s radar at all, and his would-be constituency has not yet materialized.


18: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Steve Bullock, who has yet to enter the race but has hired a number of national staff, has hovered around 1% according to Morning Consult.

Despite being elected and re-elected statewide in Montana – which voted for Trump in 2016 – Bullock has not managed to parlay that into a particularly serious candidacy or pre-candidacy.

Moreover, Bullock’s window to qualify for the Democratic debates in June is rapidly narrowing given that 20 candidates can make the stage, and 16 total have met at least one of the requirements.

Still, Bullock is tied for 9th most well-known candidate among Democratic primary voters in Morning Consult polling.


17: Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

Delaney enjoys a surprising amount of name recognition but has been unable to translate that into any support in a meaningful way.

He’s among those at 1 percent in Morning Consult polls. According to INSIDER’s polling, he’s known by about 20 percent of Democrats, but has been unable to build a base of support unlike other candidates with similar levels of attention, such as Pete Buttigieg or John Hickenlooper.

Read more about John Delaney’s campaign.


16: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

caption
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.
source
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Tim Ryan is in the tier of candidates polling behind people who have not entered the race.

While Ryan is pitching himself as a pro-labor alternative to Trump for Rust-Belt voters, he sows doubt about his ability to beat Trump in the general.

He has only climbed to 1% in Morning Consult in the past two weeks and does not have national name recognition, even compared to other former members of the House.

We moved Ryan down three spots from 16th to 13th place between April 30 and May 2 given that of former Vice President Joe Biden’s entry into the race completely crowds out Ryan and his messge.

Ryan pitched his campaign on his blue-collar, working-class appeal and his track record winning in rural communities, which is the exact lane Biden is successfully running in.

Read more about Tim Ryan’s campaign.


15: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

caption
John Hickenlooper exits the stage after speaking at the NAN Conference on April 5, 2019 in New York City.
source
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Hickenlooper has modest name recognition at best, and hasn’t been able to translate his strong track record serving 15 years in public office in Colorado and stature as one of the only governors in the race into tangible support.

Hickenlooper is not widely perceived as being able to beat Trump in INSIDER polling, has not gone above 1% in Morning Consult polls all year, and didn’t report particularly strong first-quarter fundraising.

We moved Hickenlooper down five spots in our ranking from April 30 to May 10. Like Ryan, Hickenlooper is squarely running in Biden’s wheelhouse, making the point of his candidacy even less clear.

Hickenlooper originally pitched himself as a centrist, business-friendly Democrat and an experienced deal-maker – which is exactly the approach Biden is taking.

Given the significant polling bump Biden received after his announcement and his cross-coalitional base of support, it’s hard to see how Hickenlooper can maintain any unique appeal with Biden sucking up so much air.

Read more about John Hickenlooper’s campaign.


14: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Among serious candidates with political experience at any level, Inslee is doing among the poorest when it comes to generating attention in the field.

Despite currently serving as a chief executive and previously serving in Congress for 15 years, he’s barely managed to secure 1% in the Morning Consult polls.

While Inslee’s performance in the polls hasn’t markedly improved, we moved him up in two spots from 16th to 14th place from April 30 to May 10 given that he’s been able to create and maintain some buzz around a series of new climate plans he’s released.

Read more about Jay Inslee’s campaign.


13: Andrew Yang.

Yang, despite the low name recognition that accompanies running for POTUS without any political experience, is actually doing fairly well in INSIDER polling.

He isn’t a favorite by any measure, polling at 2% in Morning Consult, but his online army of supporters and meme creators, known as the Yang Gang, helped Yang raise $1.7 million in just 7 weeks almost entirely from small donations.

Yang’s candidacy will test whether his unprecedented online popularity, an asset very few candidates have in this election, can translate not just into fundraising dollars but also into votes.

We moved Yang up by two spots from 15th to 13th place from April 30 to May 10 given his sustained popularity, and because former Vice President Joe Biden’s entrance into the race doesn’t undermine Yang’s unique appeal and policy ideas.

Read more about Andrew Yang’s campaign.


12: Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

caption
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
source
YouTube

Gabbard has some serious viability problems among Democrats.

Not only do a significant proportion of respondents in INSIDER polling say they are unhappy with her as the nominee compared to her rivals, but Gabbard has not been able to consolidate support in a meaningful way.

Despite being one of the first to enter the race, Gabbard is still polling at 1% in Morning Consult and is considered a less viable opponent to President Donald Trump in the general election than most other candidates.

However, Gabbard moved up by two places in our ranking between April 30 and May 10 given that unlike other candidates, she’s not running in the same lane as Biden and still has a unique message.

Read more about Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign.


11: Former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

caption
Stacey Abrams.
source
Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

We began polling Stacey Abrams fairly recently when she became a potential contender for 2020.

Even though she’s yet not in the race, she’s in a good position to be a kingmaker or queenmaker, based on her wide popularity and historic run in Georgia.

Abrams could help any of these contenders consolidate a Southern base, especially among African-American voters, a coveted constituency.

In the course of just a year, Abrams went from relatively unknown to being a national rising star in the party- making her a formidable possible candidate should she choose to run.

We moved Abrams up by one spot between April 30 and May 10 given her sustained popularity.

Read more about Stacey Abrams.


10: Former San Antonio Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

While around one-third of Democrats surveyed are aware of Castro, this has not translated into good polling numbers for the former cabinet secretary.

According to Morning Consult, Castro has been in the doldrums of polling at 1% for 2019. And he only raised $1.1 million in 2019’s first quarter, less than other lesser-known candidates like Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, and John Hickenlooper.

Moreover, many of Castro’s supporters would be satisfied with other candidates, according to INSIDER polling.

Sen. Kamala Harris, in particular, is consolidating a base of support that could eat Castro’s lunch in early primary states like California, Nevada, South Carolina, and Arizona.

Castro has stayed in 10th place in both the April 30 and May 10 version of this ranking.

Read more about Julian Castro’s campaign.


9: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand, while known by around 40% of likely Democratic primary voters, according to INSIDER polling, has been struggling considerably in the shadow of Harris and Sanders.

She has fairly miserable polling numbers for a candidate of her caliber, not breaking through 0-2% in Morning Consult surveys despite being one of the first to announce.

Gillibrand’s supporters also like many of the other candidates ahead of her, and just 14% of respondents polled by INSIDER believe she could beat Trump in a general election match-up – the worst result of all the female candidates, and third-lowest overall.

We moved Gillibrand down two spots in our ranking from 7th to 9th place given that she hasn’t improved in the polls, and still hasn’t attained the 65,000 required donors to meet both the polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the Democratic debates in June.

Read more about Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign.


8: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Klobuchar is known by about a third of the Democratic electorate, and she has one of the better-perceived chances of beating Trump, according to INSIDER polling.

She’s still overshadowed by her other Senate colleagues with higher name recognition and is the least well-known person of all senators running for president in INSIDER polling.

Klobuchar is currently polling at 2% in Morning Consult. She remained in 8th place in our ranking from April 30 to May 9.

Read more about Amy Klobuchar’s campaign.


7: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

caption
Cory Booker, New Jersey senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
source
Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for The Human Rights Campaign

Cory Booker is known by half of likely Democratic primary voters, but has not been able to translate that into good polling numbers, staying stagnant at 3-4% of the vote for the duration of 2019 in Morning Consult surveys.

His support is precarious in the sense that people who like Booker also like lots of other candidates.

75% of Booker supporters would be happy with Joe Biden, 66% would be satisfied with Kamala Harris, and 50% would be happy with Beto O’Rourke or Elizabeth Warren as the nominees, according to INSIDER polling.

While Booker is broadly favorable within the field, his success will hinge on his ability to convert his favorability that stronger polling numbers and fundraising.

We moved Booker down one spot from 6th to 7th from April 30 to May 9 given he didn’t gain any ground in the polls during that time.

Read more about Cory Booker’s campaign.


6: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Mayor Pete is having a moment. Despite low overall name recognition, he’s recently enjoyed a strong two months in the polls and in fundraising.

The Democratic primary voters who do know him are fairly confident in his ability to beat Trump, compared to his more experienced and nationally known rivals, INSIDER polling found.

Buttigieg has enjoyed a considerable polling bump. In late April, Morning Consult has him ranked third behind Biden and Sanders at 8%, up from 0% in late February and 1% in March. He’s currently at 6% in fifth place.

We initially underrated Buttigieg’s chances, given the quickness of his rise and the nature of national electoral politics, but moved him up three spots ahead of Booker, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand in the May 10 version of our ranking.

While Buttigieg’s numbers have slightly dipped in Morning Consult’s polling, his sustained strong performance both shows he’s not a flavor-of-the-month candidate and has lots of potential room to grow when his name recognition increases.

Read more about Pete Buttigieg’s campaign.


5: Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

For a three-term congressman, O’Rourke impressively commanded the attention of Democrats by coming within striking distance of beating Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race, shattering fundraising records along the way.

Half of those likely to participate in the field are aware of him, the best result for anyone not a senator or former vice president, and a testament to the energy surrounding his 2018 Senate race.

According to INSIDER polling, 31% of respondents believe O’Rourke could beat Trump – the third-highest of any candidate and only below only Sen. Sanders and former VP Biden.

O’Rourke has hovered around 5% in the polls, according to Morning Consult’s survey. He’s remained in 5th place in our ranking since April 30.

Read more about Beto O’Rourke’s campaign.


4: California Sen. Kamala Harris.

caption
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
source
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kamala Harris is fairly well-known for a first-term senator, and is perceived as being most able to defeat Trump in a general election out of all the senators running for president for the first time.

Harris also enjoys the greatest support among other candidates’ supporters, INSIDER polling found.

73% of Gillibrand supporters, 72% of Klobuchar supporters, 67% of Buttigieg, 76% of Castro and 67% of Hickenlooper supporters would also be satisfied with Harris as the Democratic nominee, meaning she could consolidate a lot of support when her rivals drop out.

Harris has been performing strongly in recent polling, hovering at 7% in Morning Consult and has stayed in the same position in this ranking since April 30.

Read more about Kamala Harris’ campaign.


3: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

caption
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at the NAN Conference on April 5, 2019 in New York City.
source
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Among the candidates who have not previously run for president, Warren is the most well-known and considered to be a strong contender against Trump in a general election.

Warren overlaps considerably with Sanders and Biden’s bases, with 40% of Biden and 40% of Sanders supporters also being satisfied with her as the nominee in INSIDER polling.

This puts her in a good position as a possible strong compromise choice if either or both of Biden and Sanders’ campaigns end up falling flat.

Despite her name recognition, however, INSIDER polling respondents don’t think Warren can beat Trump as easily as Biden, Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris or Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Warren is currently in third place at 8% in Morning Consult polling. She’s stayed in the same position in this ranking since April 30.

Read more about Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.


2: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

caption
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at the NAN Conference, April 5, 2019 in New York City.
source
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Sanders enjoys widespread name recognition among Democrats from his decades serving in Congress and his 2016 run against Hillary Clinton. He’s also established a grass-roots army of small donors that helped him lead the pack in fundraising with an $18.2 million haul in 2019’s first quarter.

He is considered the top rival of Biden, and 37% think Sanders would beat Trump in a general election compared to 10% who think he’d lose, according to INSIDER polling.

Furthermore, INSIDER polling found that Sanders would be a satisfactory nominee for half of Biden supporters, which could seriously benefit him in case Biden’s candidacy falters.

According to Morning Consult, Sanders is supported by 19% of Democrats– down three points from April 28. We’ve kept Sanders in the same place as our April 30 ranking.

Read more about Bernie Sanders’ campaign.


1: Former Vice President and Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Biden, who announced his long-awaited presidential bid on April 25, has unparalleled name recognition among Democrats from his eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president and 36 years in the US Senate.

Biden is also the only candidate who more than half of Democrats believe can win against Trump – according to INSIDER polling.

As of May 5, 40% of Democrats polled by Morning Consult said that Biden is their first choice out of all 20 declared candidates, a 10% boost from before his announcement.

Biden gained a lead of four points in Morning Consult’s polling between April 28 and May 5, keeping him easily in first place.

Read more about Joe Biden’s campaign.