Who are the 2020 Democratic Presidential Front Runners?

As the 2020 Presidential Election approaches, the race for the Democratic nomination is in full swing. The upcoming October 15 debate will feature 12 candidates — the most ever on a national debate stage. As of October 10, the six most popular candidates in order are former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. As many of the candidates attempt to distinguish themselves from the large running pool, many have focused their campaigns on more progressive, left-wing ideals. Overall, income inequality, health care, gun control, immigration, and climate change are being heavily discussed in the candidates’ political platforms. Some candidates have contrasting proposals for combating these issues. For example, when it comes to income inequality, Warren believes providing universal health care and increased affordable housing are the best solutions. Harris, on the other hand, believes combating income inequality should start with closing the gender wage gap by passing legislation that would require large companies to pay their workers equally. Despite these varying ideas, most candidates agree on several points; they plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to reduce unemployment. Most also agree on reforming the American health care system.

Due to the strained political climate in the United States (US), students at Berkeley High School (BHS) need to be knowledgeable about these candidates. Some BHS juniors and seniors will be able to vote in the 2020 primaries and the upcoming Presidential election, and in an increasingly tumultuous time for the country, informed voters are necessary to bring the nation together.

Vice President Joe Biden has run for President twice before, first in 1988 and again in 2008, and considers 2020 his last chance to gain the Democratic nomination. Biden was relatively late in joining the race when he did so in late May, but ever since he has led the field in early national polls. While his status as the race’s frontrunner has recently been threatened by Senator Elizabeth Warren, he continues to hold the position of first-place in most of the first states to vote. These are especially important in a presidential primary because of their massive influence on the voting patterns of states that later vote for a nominee.

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks often about the need for “big, structural change” in the United States (US). Her campaign’s rallying cry has focused on her decision to release detailed plans that outline exactly how she intends to implement her proposed policies, many of which are similar to those of Senator Sanders: an expansion of government-funded healthcare and increased taxes to pay for these policies, most of which would fall on the richest 1% of the American population and Wall Street. Senator Warren also refuses to accept money from Political Action Committees (PACs), corporations, or high-dollar donors.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the long-time Senator from Vermont, is best known for being the relatively close runner-up to the Democratic Party’s most recent nominee, Hillary Clinton, and for being the only self-described Democratic socialist in the race. Since his 2016 run, he has continued to push for many of his now-famous policy proposals, which include: Medicare-For-All, the elimination of college tuition and student debt, higher taxes on the wealth of America’s “millionaires and billionaires,” and the removal of lobbying and corporate donations from US politics. Senator Sanders’ base is largely made up of younger voters.

Senator Kamala Harris received national attention in July for her debate performance against Vice President Biden, when she questioned his past positions on school desegregation through busing. Her standing in the polls has recently slowed, and many believe that her performance in the recent debates may be the cause of this, as she has been attacked for her past positions as California’s Attorney General, jailing thousands of criminals for non-violent offenses, mainly Marijuana possession. Before becoming California’s Attorney General, Senator Harris attended Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley and grew up in Oakland.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the only openly gay politician running for president. One of the boldest plans Mayor Buttigieg has put forward is a fundamental change to the US Supreme Court by shifting the number of judges from 9 to 15, with equal parts Republican, Democrat, and “apolitical.” Buttigieg came into the race as a politician from a minor US city, and has generally received around 5% support in most national polls.

Andrew Yang’s candidacy has surprised many by its popularity given the fact that when his campaign began, he had no prior political experience. Mr. Yang’s signature policy is a relatively unique proposal among the field of Democratic candidates: to give every American adult $1000 a month, with nothing required in exchange, because he fears that job automation will soon pitch workers against robots, resulting in the loss of millions of jobs.

Illustrations by Jovi Tseng

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