Let the 2020 White House race begin.
Tuesday’s elections sounded the starting gun for a long, crowded, expensive and no doubt dramatic race for the presidency.
Democrats, riding a wave of momentum from their gains in the U.S. House of Representatives, enter the presidential cycle without a clear front-runner for the first time since the start of the 2004 campaign.
More than two dozen possible contenders, including former Vice President Joe Biden and a gaggle of senators, governors, mayors and business leaders, have been jockeying for months to line up donors and evaluate their shot at the party’s nomination.
Awaiting the winner will almost certainly be President Donald Trump, a Republican whose approval ratings have been mostly stuck below 50 percent since he took office but whose popularity within his party will make any potential challenge from another Republican the longest of longshots.
Trump loomed over Tuesday’s midterm elections, fueling turnout among Democrats eager to reject him and driving many Republican candidates to pledge support for him or else face a backlash from their conservative base.
Democrats are already wrestling with questions about which candidate, strategy and approach are most likely to beat Trump on Nov. 3, 2020. Many Democrats are expected to jump in the race early, within the next few months.
Whoever emerges from the grueling state-by-state Democratic nominating process, which kicks off in Iowa in early 2020, will have to stand up to the pugilistic Trump while developing an appealing alternative agenda and uniting the party’s sometimes feuding progressive and establishment wings, Democrats said.
“There will be a lot for Democrats to work through this time,” said Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run. “It’s not just finding the person who can beat Trump, but also the person who has a vision for unifying the country.”