Ranking the 5 Democrats with the best chance of winning in 2020
Posted January 2, 2020 11:53 a.m. EST
CNN — Even with Julián Castro's departure from the 2020 Democratic presidential race on Thursday, there are still 14 -- yes, 14! -- people running for the right to take on President Donald Trump this November.
But most of those folks -- sorry Marianne Williamson! -- have somewhere between very little and no chance of winning the Democratic nomination. We are now a month away from the Iowa caucuses, and if you are still at 1% (or close to it), well, it's not going to happen for you.
With that in mind, we are narrowing our biweekly rankings from 10 candidates to just five. But that doesn't mean that if your candidate didn't make this last, most painful cut, he or she doesn't have any chance -- or won't play a major role in who does win.
For example, Andrew Yang, who just announced that he raised more than $16 million in the last three months of 2019, appears to be growing in strength and support as the first votes near, but just missed making the cut for this week's rankings. Or former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who continues to pump tens of millions of dollars into TV ads aimed at catapulting himself into relevance come Super Tuesday in early March.
And remember: We re-rank these candidates every two weeks. So just because your candidate didn't make this Top 5 doesn't mean they will never crack the Top 5 in the future! But here's the list:
5. Amy Klobuchar: The senior senator from Minnesota is the only candidate outside the Top 4 who has a realistic shot of winning Iowa at this point. Klobuchar continued a string of successful debate performs in December. She also has one of the best electability cases to make. And yet, Klobuchar is going nowhere in the national polls. She has few endorsements. The big question is, what happens even if Klobuchar were to win Iowa? It's unclear that she would be able to take advantage of such a victory. (Previous ranking: 5)
4. Elizabeth Warren: It's a sign of the slowdown in the Massachusetts senator's campaign that as the year-end fundraising deadline approached, there were increasingly desperate emails and tweets begging supporters to pony up just a little bit more money. It's also telling that while the the likes of Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders (and Yang) released their end of 2019 fundraising totals on January 1, there was nary a peep from Warren world on how much she had raised in the final three months of the year. Warren still has the best organization in Iowa and is competitive in New Hampshire as well. But if she wins neither of those states, it could spell big trouble for her chances. (Previous ranking: 4)
3. Pete Buttigieg: This much is clear: the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana starts 2020 in a much stronger position than he started 2019. Buttigieg raised nearly $25 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and he is near the top of the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. A win in both of those contests would arguably make Buttigieg the man to beat for the nomination. The problem is that he continues to suffer greatly with nonwhite voters (e.g. getting 2% in our last national poll). Buttigieg may end up being just an Iowa and New Hampshire phenomenon. (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Bernie Sanders: Sanders' massive $34+ million take in the last fundraising quarter is a testament to three things: 1) His unmatched online support 2) His momentum in the race over the past few months and 3) His ability to stay in the 2020 race as long as he wants (if he doesn't win the nomination). No other candidate in the race has all three of those factors going for them. (Previous ranking: 2)
1. Joe Biden: The former vice president is as close to the nomination as anyone has been this cycle. Biden finally had a good debate last month. His lead in the national polls isn't going anywhere thanks to strong African-American support. Biden continues to rack up endorsements, and he looks to have had a solid fourth quarter fundraising total. He also continues to poll best against Trump, which is a quality that is at the top of most voters' minds. Still, Biden could easily lose Iowa and New Hampshire. Losses in those states could make his front-runner status disappear quickly. (Previous ranking: 1)