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Candidates: The Democratic field is not too large

The Democratic field
REUTERS

The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.

It was one of those picky debates that pop up in a newsroom: How many Democrats are running for president?

Ballotpedia says almost 250 people had filed to run as Democrats as of May 20. Most of them, obviously, are random “candidates” who filed for the thrill of seeing their name on a presidential primary ballot.

So how many “major” Democrats are in the race? That depends on who’s counting and what their criteria are for deeming someone a serious candidate.

Ballotpedia says there are 24 current or past officeholders or public figures in the race. The Associated Press says 23. FiveThirtyEight noted last week that 20 Democrats have qualified for the first two debates, which begin next month.


Twenty-four, 23, 20 — no matter the specific number, it’s a lot of names, many of them unfamiliar to even people who consider themselves politically savvy.

But most of us won’t need to delve that deeply into the field. By the time Minnesota holds its new presidential primary March 3, that field will be sharply winnowed.

Consider the generous criteria set up by the the Democratic National Committee for the initial debates. A candidate qualifies by either:

  • Receiving at least 1% in at least three qualifying polls or
  • Having 65,000 people donate to their campaign, with at least 200 donors in 20 different states.

FiveThirtyEight noted last week that if the DNC required candidates to meet both criteria and bumped the polling number to 2%, only eight Democrats would qualify.

The difference between 1% and 2% is immaterial. It’s not only within the margin of error, but no candidate is going to survive either the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary with either figure.


So there aren’t two dozen viable Democratic hopefuls, or 20, or even a dozen. It’s a much smaller group, and it will be quickly reduced, as it was in 2008, when only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton survived the Iowa caucuses.

Which is not to deride those who are running and not finding much traction. The Democratic field includes senators, governors, mayors, representatives, former cabinet officers, a former CEO, a venture capitalist. They all presumably are running for more than an ego trip. They believe they have something to contribute to the debate. They make their pitches, and they advance or fade away.

This large and diverse field gives the party’s rank and file, already united in opposition to the incumbent president, a variety of choices from which to chose what they want.

Republished with permission.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by joe smith on 06/01/2019 - 08:15 am.

    They better be concerned that the DNC doesn’t pick a winner early and pull a “Bernie”/on them. As far as the real world issues go, having the whole field back “Green New Deal” is absolutely what Trump wants. Non coastal elites (who won the election for Trump) are not impressed with GND.

  2. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 06/01/2019 - 10:38 am.

    Difficult to understand why so many are running. I understand the desire for these politicians for name recognition, but considering repub hold on the senate, it might be a better idea to run for senate…or if they are already a senator…to get back there and try to work for us.
    The article is correct, they will be weeded out quickly, but my concern again is the DNC forcing their pick over ours as they did last time. Sadly, they like this repub party seems to be about power and control…not the people.

  3. Submitted by Carl Brookins on 06/01/2019 - 11:18 am.

    I think Mr. Smith is correct. The DNC helped Clinton and others lose in 2016 and they seem to be on track to stay silent on the issues again in this election.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/01/2019 - 10:25 pm.

    The Republicans had 16 candidates in 2016. This crop isn’g tvaf much bigger and much better. And most importantly none of them is a “stable genius” like Trump.

  5. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 06/03/2019 - 10:29 am.

    I think it shows that megalomania is not just a Trump problem. That so many Dems who have been so ineffective legislatively think they could be president, is petty hubris.

  6. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/03/2019 - 12:02 pm.

    Running for president is fun. More fun than being in congress.

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