With already 13 Democratic candidates officially running for president in the year 2020, people who aren’t supporters of President Donald Trump may feel hopeful. However, while the large number of candidates may seem like the pinnacle of our democracy, it might instead be detrimental to the Democratic Party.
Having so many candidates could divide the Democratic Party, making it harder to form a united front in the general election. This happened in the 2016 election, when voters were firmly split between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Following Clinton’s victory in the primaries, 12 percent of Sanders’s supporters voted for Trump in the general election, according to NPR. With a predicted 25 candidates, the Democratic Party is likely to be split again, and supporters of Democratic candidates who lost in the primaries may not jump to support the candidate that won. These individuals may vote for the opposing candidate, or even abstain from voting all together. As November 2020 approaches, it is imperative that the party not let the division caused in the primaries lead to Democratic voters’ abandonment of hope.
Looking at the Democratic presidential candidates, many come from similar backgrounds. For example, while having so many female candidates is extremely inspiring, it means people who have been waiting for a female president may be torn between them. When populous groups of voters are divided between candidates, one who doesn’t have the majority is likely to win, and the winning percentage will become very low. Trump’s victory in the 2016 election can be attributed to these same predicted trends. Through name recognition, rather than voter pragmatism, Trump stood out compared to his Republican opponents.
These problems are perfectly mirrored in Berkeley High School’s (BHS) own student government elections this year. Over 70 students are running for an elected position, the highest number in recorded history. With so many options and such a large school, the election becomes primarily a who-can-put-up-the-most-posters contest.
The students who are running also come from similar ethnic groups and friend groups, and therefore the vote of that group of people is split between them. It is plausible that this could lead to the election of a student who is not supported by many. However, since BHS’s elections don’t have primaries or political parties, there is not the same difficulty of groups having to decide on one candidate to support. Unlike BHS elections, the Democratic primary election can have real consequences for America if the Democratic Party can’t rally behind one candidate.