Are too many dang Democrats running for president? | The Tylt
Bill de Blasio's hints that he may seek the Democratic Party's nomination for president has many political pundits throwing their hands in the air in frustration. At the time of publication, 21 Democrats have announced their intention to run. At this point, most voters can't even name every candidate in the running. Many Democrats are worried they will repeat the GOP's 2016 mistake, when establishment Republicans split the ticket and facilitated Donald Trump's rise. What do you think?
Are too many dang Democrats running for president?
Vox writer Mark Schmitt argues the number of candidates is not as unusual as it initially seems.
[T]he number of candidates really isn’t so unusual for an election like this one. Political opportunities like 2020 don’t pop up very often. There’s no Democratic incumbent seeking reelection, no obvious next-in-line Democrat (like Al Gore in 2000 or Hillary Clinton in 2016), and there’s also a solid, though not certain, chance of Democratic victory. In the recent past, whenever those three conditions have aligned, quite a few candidates have been lured into the race.
At this point in 1987, for example, nearing the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term, there were 13 candidates, including many whose names would occupy the highest difficulty tiers of any political trivia contest. Who remembers former Rep. Doug Applegate of Ohio? Probably not even the 25,000 people who voted for him in 1988.
After a 2016 election in which they were accused of heavily favoring one candidate over others, Democratic party leadership has attempted to make sure each candidate gets their fair share of attention. As such, they have planned numerous debates leading up to the primary, including up to 20 candidates. While initially it seemed unlikely that many candidates would reach the designated threshold—1% or more in three polls and "received donations from at least (1) 65,000 unique donors; and (2) a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states"—it now seems like more than the allocated 20 will qualify.
As such, candidates are scrambling to meet both qualifications in order to guarantee a slot, which is not fostering the kind of productive debate party leaders may have been looking for. Per Politico:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sank a ping-pong ball into a cup of water — a spin on the drinking game, beer pong — and turned the moment into a digital ad urging $1 donations to her presidential campaign. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is hawking bumper stickers for $1 donations and used his recent CNN town hall to make a televised plea for more campaign contributions. Former Rep. John Delaney promised to give $2 of his own money to charity for each of the next 100,000 individual donors who gave to his campaign.
The unconventional, often gimmicky fundraising arms race is part of a desperate scramble to make it past a new threshold set by the Democratic National Committee, 65,000 individual donors, to the first primary debates in June and July. The televised debates could be make-or-break showcases for the 2020 presidential candidates, and the requirement has reshaped the strategy of candidates struggling to cross the donor mark, changing spending priorities and altering the path of their campaigns.
As Salon reports, the large number of Democratic candidates reflects a similar field of Republicans in 2016.
The fact that there is such a huge potential field can't be dismissed lightly. During the 2016 campaign, the Republican Party fielded more candidates than had ever previously competed in a major party's presidential primaries — there were 17 going into the Iowa caucuses. As we now know, the end result, after many twists and turns, was the nomination and election of Donald Trump, the first U.S. president to lack either military or political experience, and the party's large-scale abandonment of what were previously understood to be its core principles.
With so many candidates, no clear frontrunners pulled into the lead, allowing Donald Trump to step in and fully differentiate himself from his opponents.
FiveThirtyEight reports that while there is a possibility of the full Democratic field making it through the Iowa caucus, it's not likely.
But it’s unlikely all these candidates run well into the 2020 primary season. Some Democratic candidates will likely drop out even before the Iowa caucuses, which are scheduled to kick off the voting process on Feb. 3, 2020. And large candidate fields have historically winnowed pretty quickly a month or so after Iowa, though there are reasons to wonder if 2020 could be different.
The primary process is designed to winnow out weaker candidates, so there is no reason to worry about a large field.
Some Twitter users, however, had suggestions for new prospective candidates.