While 2020 seems a long way away, the presidential is already going strong. Typically, in a bipartisan political climate, when a President’s approval ratings are low, candidates from the opposing political party tend to have a good chance at taking the white house. This is why there is an apparent difference between the number of candidates running from each party. Currently, there is only one declared Republican candidate (Trump) whereas 10 Democratic candidates either have declared or will probably declare candidacy. To be a frontrunner in the race for a party nomination, a candidate must be well-known, because this brings more media coverage and thus a wider expansion of the campaign.
Of the various Democratic candidates who have announced or are predicted to announce they are running in 2020, there are four likely frontrunners in the race for the party nomination. The biggest potential candidate for the Democrats is Joe Biden, who served as former President Barack Obama’s Vice President.
While there seems to be nostalgic attitude toward the Obama era, his administration suffered a substantial decline in approval ratings, which hit 42.5 percent after the 2014 midterm elections, which is not very far from President Trump’s approval rating, which has fluctuated between 45 and 37 percent. Obama concluded his presidency with a 49.8 percent approval rating, which is substantially below the average presidential approval rating of 53 percent.
As vice president of the Obama administration, Biden may have this nostalgia working with him, or the poor approval rating of President Obama working against him. Currently, Biden is leading in approval ratings and he has not even announced his candidacy, so it is very likely that he will run and take the Democratic nomination. However, just as we have seen in 2016, Donald Trump was able to build his campaign by heavily criticizing the Obama administration. So if Biden decides to run, he should be prepared to publicly handle a lot of criticism about his work as Obama’s VP.
After being defeated by Hillary in the race for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016, Bernie Sanders has announced that he will be running for president a second time. Despite doing relatively well in the polls, his approval rating has steadily remained between 56 and 53 percent since the 2016 elections. Without a big leap in approval ratings or media coverage, it is likely that Bernie’s campaign will stagnate and that he will not take the win his second time around.
California Senator Kamala Harris recently announced her candidacy for the 2020 election. She is currently third in the polls following Sanders and Biden, but her approval ratings are significantly lower. With 20 percent of voters viewing her favorably and 22 percent viewing her unfavorably, there is another 58 percent of voters who either have no opinion or do not know who she is. This unfamiliarity tends to work against candidates. In order to increase her approval ratings and surpass her opponents, Harris will need media coverage to spread her name and ideas to a wider audience.
Another possible candidate is Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks. With his name attached to everyone’s favorite coffee brand, Schultz is getting a great deal of media coverage already, which will work strongly in his favor. Media coverage (as we have seen in 2016) is one of the most important components in elections; candidates want the public to know who they are and to go to the polls and vote. We have seen Donald Trump’s fame work well in his favor, and the same will most likely occur with Schultz, because similarly to Trump, he is another wealthy and well-known businessman running for office.
As of today, the only declared Republican candidate is President Trump, who declared his 2020 candidacy on his inauguration day in 2017. Trump started his administration with a 45 percent approval rating, which is low compared to the average presidential approval ratings, so his current 37 percent approval rating does not determine how his candidacy will play out. According to a poll conducted by Democracy Corps & Greenberg Research, 78 percent of registered voters said they want Donald Trump to continue to lead the Republican Party. With his media coverage increasing more and more as we approach election day, it is very clear that he will be a frontrunner in 2020 just as he was in 2016, and will almost definitely win the Republican nomination.
Similarly to the 2012 election, there will likely be a very close race between the candidates of both parties, so it is impossible to predict a 2020 winner. Personally, I would place my bets on Joe Biden and Donald Trump going head to head in a race for the White House.
Keren Blaunstein is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.