The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history.
Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes.
The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground.
These power rankings include only announced candidates. So, when you say "WAIT!! WHERE'S XXXXX????" Read the earlier sentence again.
If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.
Check out other editions here.
18. Wayne Messam: 13.4 (out of 100)
Look, there's no way someone is going from a small city mayor directly to the White House.
Forget I said that as you read on.
17. Marianne Williamson: 17.1
Unfortunately, they sort of already did that last time when Marianne ran for congress in 2014, and she still finished fourth.
16. Eric Swalwell: 20.2
Swalwell provides very little that is different than your typical left-wing candidate policy wise. But, he really likes seeing himself on TV, and he's willing to say outlandish things for attention. This raises his profile slightly above the hundreds of other representatives that you've never heard of, and that's what this run is all about.
There's a certain brand of presidential candidate that isn't really running for president. That's Eric Swalwell.
15. John Delaney: 20.3
He was a businessman and then congressman in Maryland for six years. He was running for president for about a third of that time.
To his credit, Delaney is one of the few democrats attempting a run as a moderate. He actually will admit that capitalism has done good things, and opposes the socialist edges of the party, being one of the only candidates who will stand up against Medicare for All. He's a throwback to the old days of the Democratic Party... like 2012.
14. Tim Ryan: 20.7
Ryan doesn't think he's going to be president, but there's probably some very unlikely path to be in the running for VP. He's from Ohio and... probably has other things that are interesting about him. He's another somewhat moderate option, which makes it nearly impossible to win in a party who is falling all over itself to nuzzle up next to Che.
13. Tulsi Gabbard: 25.9
Gabbard is a strange candidate, which sort of makes her interesting. Her current collection of policy preferences is hard to differentiate from the Bernie/Socialist group.
Oddly, she has a history of taking strong positions against the LGBT party line, including supporting groups pitching gay conversion therapy. Her father was an activist in this world for a long time. She says she no longer believes in those things.
She seems to be the head of the Bashir Al Assad fan club (member #2). The other member of the fan club is David Duke, who has actually endorsed Gabbard in the past. On top of all of this, she's about twenty-five times better looking than the typical David Duke endorsee, and she interviews like a dull foreign policy wonk. It's hard to imagine her path to the nomination, but a VP consideration isn't out of the question. There's a lot of baggage to deal with however.
12. Andrew Yang: 27.1
Yang gang unite! Andrew Yang is a tech entrepreneur who has made some noise on the inter-webs talking a lot about the future of technology and universal basic income. Give him credit for at least attempting to talk about important issues, and for outlining a lengthy list of policy proposals. He's smart and actually makes some sense occasionally. The prediction markets sure do love him, showing the limitation of prediction markets.
As the only candidate to outline an anti-circumcision position, he leads the field in commentary about the private parts of male babies.
11. Jay Inslee: 30.4
See: Lindsay Graham 2016.
He does have executive experience as governor of Washington, which is something. He might be fighting for a shot at VP, but realistically he's in the race to try and force the frontrunners left on the climate.
Whether he can stop the evil burning orb in the sky is still unknown.
10. John Hickenlooper: Score: 32
As a purple state governor with some non-socialist tendencies, one could see him pairing well as the VP for someone like Kamala Harris or Cory Booker. However, you have to wonder if the Democrats want to pick yet another hard-to-remember-vanilla-zilch of a VP candidate, following the disaster of Tim Kaine.
Also, it's hard to imagine a president with the last name of Hickenlooper.
9. Julian Castro: 36.2
There was a time when Julian Castro had the glow of an Obama approved up and comer. Think of Castro as a big high school football recruit, that won a full scholarship at an SEC school. But after a few mediocre seasons, he's going late in mock drafts.
On a positive note, he has a twin brother, so if Julian wins the White House and disappoints, we can probably switch everything over to his brother pretty easily. I'm pretty sure that's in the Constitution.
8. Kirsten Gillibrand: 37.8
Gillibrand started as a moderate, transformed into someone from the far left, and contorted herself to fit in to every big news cycle. She became the most prominent voice for the #MeToo movement when she took the bravely calculated stand to call for Al Franken's resignation.
The problem is, Gillibrand didn't realize that the left had little interest in consistently enforcing these new standards. They didn't actually care about #MeToo when it meant getting rid of a mediocre-yet-beloved comedian who voted the right way.
Now her support of a woman who "told her truth" about an alleged series of assaults with photographic evidence is her Achilles' heel. Apparently #BelieveAllWomen has its limits.
This was supposed to be Kirsten Gillibrand's time. But, it looks like #TimesUp.
7. Amy Klobuchar: 45.5
The case for a Klobuchar candidacy is a decent one. She's a woman from the Midwest, who has consistently out-preformed her electoral expectations. For example, in Beto O'Rourke's highly praised Senate run against Ted Cruz, he outperformed the average Democratic house candidate by 4 points. Klobuchar outperformed the average by 13.
If she runs a great campaign, she has a shot. Even if all she can accomplish is to stay mostly mistake free, she should be in the top tier for a potential VP nod.
I know this all sounds really positive, but I'm only saying it so Klobuchar doesn't throw something at me.
6. Elizabeth Warren: 46.0
Elizabeth Warren is not a good candidate. She's almost as crazy on policy as Bernie, she gaffes like Biden, and she's as likable as Hayden Christensen's performance in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. She shows no ability to deal with the pressure that Donald Trump will bring to the campaign, and when she tries to act naturally, she is as convincing as Hayden Christensen's performance in Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones.
Warren does have a following, a real point of view, and she's one of the only candidates who actually seems to release policy plans. The problem is her policies are basically Marxist-blogger fever dreams, such as a wealth tax and nationalizing a large portion of the prescription drug industry. These ideas are of the quality of Hayden Christensen's performance in the Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones.
5. Cory Booker: 55.5
There's a moment in the bloopers during closing credits of some Jim Carrey movie, where they prank him by calling him an "overactor." (It doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot better than his crappy paintings.) Cory Booker makes a Jim Carrey performance look like it's full of subtle nuance.
Booker simply tries too hard. The bulging eyes, the screaming, the explosive Spartacussing — it's just tiring. It's also part of Booker's act. He's in a constant battle to portray what he thinks any given audience wants him to be. Unfortunately, you can feel him doing it, and his lack of authenticity will likely be his downfall. He's also far too attention hungry to work as a vice presidential pick, which leaves his options as limited as his charisma.
4. Pete Buttigieg: 62.9
Two things you need to know about Mayor Pete.
First, his name is pronounced thusly: Boot-edge-edge.
Second, he's openly gay. The reason you need to know he's openly gay is because you should not be prejudiced against people who are openly gay. You are obviously an evil person, as evidenced by your visit to this website, and need to understand that being openly gay doesn't mean you aren't capable of governing in an effective matter. This means treating him like he's any other boring white guy.
However, you shouldn't just treat him as if he's any other boring white guy. This is historic!!! You must focus on the fact that he is openly gay, revel in the history his candidacy provides, and say the phrase "openly gay" approximately 457,034 times per day.
To summarize, always forget and focus on while always remembering and ignoring the fact that he's openly gay.
Oh yeah. Also, Buttigieg is a veteran, is a Rhodes Scholar, a calm and effective speaker, has support from some former Obama officials, and has exceeded all expectations so far. He's the mayor of Pawnee, Indiana, so he is uniquely qualified to solve our nation's bus scheduling and pot hole filling needs.
Finally, he is openly gay.
3. Robert Francis O’Rourke: 62.9
O'Rourke is one of the exciting new breed of Democratic candidates that are most famous for losing elections, falling short of defeating Ted Cruz in his 2018 Senate race.
Bob Frank O'Rourke's path to the nomination is paved with massive fundraising, the ability to entertain millions of "Now This" YouTube subscribers with nonsensical platitudes about the rights of below average quarterbacks, and being the candidate with the most disturbing use of his hands since Joe Biden.
2. Bernie Sanders: 68.3
We've come so far, so fast.
Sanders earns points for being the Democrat who most consistently will actually admit he's a socialist. As the party has moved towards him, he has moved even further left. You're not going to out-socialist a guy who went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon.
Revisionist historians like to make the case that Bernie was the rightful winner of the nomination in 2016. But, this is nonsense. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the primary by 12 points. Debbie Wasserman Schultz can barely dress herself in the morning, let alone exude the competence to move four million votes to Hillary Clinton.
A Sanders nomination is a risky path for Democrats.
1. Kamala Harris: 69.1
Kamala Harris has a lot going for her. She's a fresh face nationally, largely falls in line with the activist left on policy, and is one of the only Democrats running who isn't even trying to hide taking money from big donors. She has a wealthy base of support in California, has run a smooth campaign early on, and hits enough intersectional lines to please the woke masses.
Harris has a history as a sometimes strict prosecutor, district attorney, and attorney general which seems a little too "law and order" for a Democratic primary audience. But the things your opponents leak against you in the primary are the things you feature in your own commercials in the general.
She is used to high pressure situations and likely won't fold under a Donald Trump style barrage like Hillary Clinton did. She comes off as likable and personable (to some), and if she can get through the primary, she's not going to be a pushover. The media does the Republican party endless favors by focusing on a relative dunce like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when this face of socialism is a far more astute and realistic threat to the priorities of the right.
Is she too far left to be elected in the United States? In any other time, sure. But, when it comes down to a one-on-one battle in a country largely locked into a structure based on binary choice, anything can happen.
Some might find it odd for the democrats to pick a candidate that benefited in her career from an extramarital workplace affair with a powerful man more than twice her age. Potential hashtag: #MeTooPartTwoSometimesItWorksOutGreat!