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There are fewer than 80 days until the midterm elections, but I already need a mental break from congressional politics. As a political junkie, the last few weeks of summer are the last real time we can have before being consumed by the post-Labor Day general election push.

For me, a mental break doesn’t mean reading or writing fiction. It doesn’t mean cooking or gardening, or trading my favorite political podcasts and television for Marvel movies (although I do love Marvel movies…). It means daydreaming about Presidential elections, past and future. I reflect on the 2008 Presidential election, which was so wonderful I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. And then, I find myself already speculating on the 2020 Democratic primary, which will start in earnest on November 7th, irrespective of how well Democrats perform in the midterms on November 6th.

The 2020 Democratic primary will be the first truly open contest since 2008 (sorry 2016). It’s no exaggeration to suggest that dozens of officeholders, party luminaries, half the Democratic U.S. Senate caucus, and celebrities (seriously, more celebrities) will consider running for office. And, for better or worse, many of them will ultimately take the plunge and do so.

We are a long way from the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses much less the next national convention, but we’re already on the hunt for good ways to measure which campaigns are likely to win, or enter the convention able to win the nomination. Here are five important themes that will play out over the next 2 years and give clues as to what might happen in the 2020 presidential election..

  1. While not yet finalized, the primary rules are likely to change. Fewer Superdelegates and more primaries means it’s likely the nominating primary won’t be settled until the convention. Interestingly, the chances of that happening increase as the field of candidates becomes larger.
  2. Ample financial resources (hard and soft dollar contributions) will always be important, but this time, potentially less so. In past elections, many prospective candidates have had to drop out if they did not raise funds quickly enough. However, the current cycle demonstrates that a charismatic candidate with a flashy video can quickly raise millions late in the cycle. So, there might just be some late surges to the finish line..
  3. In the case of campaigns with similar profile and financial resources, organization and planning will likely be the differentiating factor. In 2008, one of multiple reasons then-Senator Obama’s campaign defeated then-Senator Clinton’s was that his campaign used the party rules to accumulate a significant lead in delegates by out-organizing Clinton’s campaigns in states that held caucuses.
  4. The campaign able to win a majority of Black voters in Southern states will win the nomination or go into the convention well-positioned to win there.
  5. Who will win? The candidate who can best articulate a positive policy agenda while demonstrating the toughness to take on President Trump. Someone with the charisma to unite a disparate group of voters and special interests spanning the far left and center-right.

So who’s it going to be? My best guesses on the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee are as follows:

  • Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro
  • California Senator Kamala Harris
David DeAngelo

David is Principal of DL DeAngelo Consulting, providing research and advisory services to advocacy and political organizations.

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