POWER RANKING: Here's who has the best chance of becoming the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee

Grace Panetta
POWER RANKING: Here's who has the best chance of becoming the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee


With 23 major candidates in the race, the Democratic 2020 presidential field is set to be one of the largest, most competitive, and most unpredictable in modern history.

To help make sense of where all these candidates stand in the field, INSIDER has been conducting a recurring SurveyMonkey Audience national poll. You can download every single poll here, down to the individual respondent data.

Read more about how the INSIDER 2020 Democratic primary tracker works.

At this point in the race, we're mainly interested in using our polling to figure out:

  • What percentage of Democratic voters are familiar with each candidate in the first place.

  • How Democrats rate each candidate's chances of beating President Donald Trump in a general election match-up.

  • If a given candidate were to drop out of the race, who their supporters would flock to next.

We've combined INSIDER's polling and results of Morning Consult's daily survey of the 2020 Democratic primary in order to create a power ranking of declared and potential 2020 candidates.

We dramatically switched up our ranking following the second Democratic primary debates, which took place on July 30 and 31, and saw some candidates stand out from the pack while others faltered. And with stricter requirements to make the September debate, the field is quickly stratifying into the top and lower tiers – and is likely to get much smaller very soon.

Read more: Here are all the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for the September primary debates

We upgraded Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker due to their standout performances in the July debates and downgraded candidates who are unlikely to make the next debate, including former Gov. John Hickenlooper and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Here's what our ranking looks like as of August 2, 2019.

22: Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton. Craig Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Moulton, who became the 19th Democrat to enter the primary on April 22, is polling at 0% in Morning Consult's surveys.

He came out ahead of the curve on impeaching Trump ahead of many other 2020 contenders, and also made news by opening up about being treated for PTSD following his service in the Marine Corps, and unveiling a plan to improve mental health care for active-duty service members and veterans.

Moulton is currently in last place due to polling at 0% in Morning Consult's survey and not having qualified for the first Democratic debates in June or the second ones in July, and having virtually no chance at making the September debate.

Read more about Seth Moulton's campaign.

21: Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and former US Rep. John Delaney on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Delaney enjoys a surprising amount of name recognition but has been unable to translate that into any support in a meaningful way.

He's among those at 1 percent in Morning Consult polls. According to INSIDER's polling, he's known by about 20 percent of Democrats, but has been unable to build a base of support unlike other candidates with similar levels of attention, such as Pete Buttigieg or John Hickenlooper.

While Delaney has met the polling requirement for the June debates, we dropped him one spot in our ranking between May 31 and June 7 after he publicly picked a fight with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and ended up on the losing side.

We dropped him further down to 21st place on June 21 given that he was one of five candidates to cite Abraham Lincoln as his political hero in The New York Times' 18 questions video series. We moved every candidate who answered with Lincoln down one spot for the lack of creativity.

We moved Delaney to the second-to-last spot in our ranking on August 2 after he was thoroughly walloped by Elizabeth Warren in the July Democratic debates. Warren had the line of the night in criticizing him, saying, "I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for."

Read more about John Delaney's campaign.


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20: Businessman Tom Steyer

2020 Democratic Candidates

Tom Steyer AP Photo/John Minchillo

Steyer, who is 62, achieved billionaire status an investor and hedge fund manager — but has since focused his efforts on advancing Democratic causes with two organizations: Need To Impeach, and NextGen America, the latter of which is focused on combating climate change and electing climate-focused Democrats into office.

He entered the race late on July 9, and has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his presidential race. To put that in context, the highest-fundraising candidate of 2019's second quarter — Mayor Pete Buttigieg— raised $24.8 million, just a quarter of that amount.

In determining where to place Steyer in our ranking, we wondered: "which candidates are worth more than Tom Steyer and $100 million?"

Given the TV ads and campaign infrastructure that money can buy, we placed him ahead of several of the lowest-polling and lowest-fundraising candidates, but we're still not sure that $100 million can buy him more support and better polling numbers than the ones above him.

We moved Steyer down to 20th place on August 2nd — despite his massive spending on Facebook ads, he's failed to generate any buzz in the race and has faded into the background of the 2020 discussion.

Read more about Tom Steyer's campaign.

19: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. Associated Press

Tim Ryan is in the tier of candidates polling behind people who have not entered the race.

While Ryan is pitching himself as a pro-labor alternative to Trump for Rust-Belt voters, he sows doubt about his ability to beat Trump in the general.

He has only climbed to 1% in Morning Consult in the past several months and does not have national name recognition, even compared to other former members of the House.

Ryan is 17th in our ranking because despite qualifying for the debates, he's failed to generate much buzz given that of former Vice President Joe Biden's entry into the race crowded out Ryan and his message.

Ryan pitched his campaign on his blue-collar, working-class appeal and his track record winning in rural communities, which is the exact lane Biden is successfully running in.

Read more about Tim Ryan's campaign.

18: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper. Associated Press

Hickenlooper has modest name recognition at best, and hasn't been able to translate his strong track record serving 15 years in public office in Colorado and stature as one of the only governors in the race into tangible support.

Hickenlooper is not widely perceived as being able to beat Trump inINSIDER pollinghas not gone above 1% in Morning Consult polls all year, and didn't report particularly strong first-quarter fundraising.

Hickenlooper originally pitched himself as a centrist, business-friendly Democrat and an experienced deal-maker — which is exactly the approach Biden is taking, crowding out Hickenlooper's message.

Given the significant polling bump Biden received after his announcement and his cross-coalitional base of support, it's hard to see how Hickenlooper can maintain any unique appeal with Biden sucking up so much air.

We moved Hickenlooper down to 18th place on July 19.

Read more about John Hickenlooper's campaign.

17: Marianne Williamson.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Despite having one of the longest-running campaigns, Williamson, a motivational speaker and New Age spiritual guru, has not been capable of consolidating support or name recognition.

Williamson raised $1.5 million in 2019's first quarter and earned the 65,000 individual donors required to make the first Democratic debates.

Despite her low name recognition and lack of political experience, Williamson debated in both the June and July Democratic debates and made a huge splash — making her an online sensation and the subject of countless jokes and memes.

But that online enthusiasm hasn't translated much into the real world. Williamson hasn't cracked 1% in Morning Consult all year, and has pretty slim chances of qualifying for the September DNC debate.

Read more about Marianne Williamson's campaign.

16: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Reuters

Steve Bullock became the 22nd candidate to enter the race on May 14.

Even though he's currently polling at 0% in Morning Consult,Bullock had a surprisingly impressive first week of his candidacy. We moved up him seven spots from 18th to 11th place in our ranking in May.

Bullock raised $1 million in the first 24 hours of his candidacy and has been able to attract some sizeable crowds and support from statewide and local politicians in Iowa.

Despite his strong opening week, Bullock had the rug pulled out from under him in terms of qualifying for the debates when the DNC retroactively disqualified one of the polls in which Bullock reached 1%, so we moved him down to 24th place.

Bullock had a solid performance in the late July Democratic debates, earning him a promotion from 21st to 16th place on August 2.

Read more about Steve Bullock's campaign.

15: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio

2020 Democratic Candidates

Bill de Blasio. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The candidacy of Bill de Blasio, who entered the race on May 16, is one of the most unusual given his unpopularity.

Monmouth University poll released in March found that of 12 declared and potential Democratic presidential candidates, de Blasio was the only potential contender to receive a negative favorability rating, with 18% of respondents holding a favorable view of the mayor compared with 24% with an unfavorable opinion of him.

Quinnipiac University poll conducted in April also found that only is de Blasio's approval rating underwater in New York City, but an overwhelming 76% of New Yorkers also believed De Blasio shouldn't run for president.

Despite his underwater approval rating and 1% support in Morning Consult, we moved de Blasio up a few spots in July and August thanks to his surprisingly strong showing in the first and second Democratic debates.

Like a true New York politician, de Blasio made his voice heard at the debates, and took a shot at former Rep. Beto O'Rourke over healthcare in the June debate. In the July debates, he made waves by taking targeted shots at Biden on almost every topic from healthcare to criminal justice reform and immigration.

Read more about Bill de Blasio's campaign.


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14: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Michael Bennet. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Bennet, who recently underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, formally announced his presidential campaign on May 2.

But Bennet — who has been in the US Senate for 10 years — currently has the distinction of being both the least-recognized and worst-polling individual with any political experience in the 2020 field.

Bennet is at 1% in Morning Consult's polling, and his would-be constituency has not yet materialized, but he got lucky and met the polling requirement for the first Democratic debates because people who don't know who he is still picked him as their first choice in a CNN poll.

Because of his debate qualification, we moved Bennet up two spots from 20th to 18th place between May 31 and June 7, but dropped him a point for being one of the candidates to mention Lincoln as his political hero.

We moved Bennet up to 14th place in our ranking on August 2 after he commanded himself impressively in the late July debates, holding his own on a stage mostly filled with progressive candidates.

Read more about Michael Bennet's campaign.

13: Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Beto O'Rourke.. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

For a three-term congressman, O'Rourke impressively commanded the attention of Democrats by coming within striking distance of beating Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race, shattering fundraising records along the way.

Half of those likely to participate in the field are aware of him, the best result for anyone not a senator or former vice president, and a testament to the energy surrounding his 2018 Senate race.

According to INSIDER polling, 31% of respondents believe O'Rourke could beat Trump — the third-highest of any candidate and only below only Sen. Sanders and former VP Biden.

In the past few weeks, O'Rourke's poll numbers have begun falling at a rapid pace despite a campaign re-launch effort and media tour.

O'Rourke's numbers in Morning Consult have dipped from 6% in late April to 3% in early August. And in the past two months of Quinnipiac University's polling, O'Rourke's support has plummeted from 12% in late March to just 2% as of May 21.

We've dropped O'Rourke down to 13th place on August 2 because of his poor second-quarter fundraising performance, where he only brought in $3.6 million — about a third of what he raised in the first 3 weeks of his campaign — and his relatively lackluster performance in both the June and July debates.

Read more about Beto O'Rourke's campaign.

12: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.. Associated Press

Klobuchar is known by about a third of the Democratic electorate, and she has one of the better-perceived chances of beating Trump, according to INSIDER polling.

She's still overshadowed by her other Senate colleagues with higher name recognition and is the least well-known person of all senators running for president in INSIDER polling.

Klobuchar is currently polling at 1% in Morning Consult. She's remained in 8th place in our ranking for several weeks.

While Klobuchar famously launched her campaign in a snowstorm, her position in the top 10 is melting away as her campaign has failed to gain much traction.

Klobuchar has slipped to the doldrums of 1% in Morning Consult's polling along — has stayed there for months — with far lesser-known candidates as her campaign has lost buzz, putting her in 12th place in the August 2 version of our ranking.

Read more about Amy Klobuchar's campaign.

11: Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Democratic presidential hopeful US Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district Tulsi Gabbard. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Gabbard has some serious viability problems among Democrats.

Not only do a significant proportion of respondents in INSIDER polling say they are unhappy with her as the nominee compared to her rivals, but Gabbard has not been able to consolidate support in a meaningful way.

Despite being one of the first to enter the race, Gabbard is still polling at 1% in Morning Consult and is considered a less viable opponent to President Donald Trump in the general election than most other candidates.

Unlike other candidates, Gabbard isn't running in the same lane as Biden and still has a unique message and a dedicated base of supporters, earning her a spot at #11 in our ranking.

Read more about Tulsi Gabbard's campaign.


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10: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Kirsten Gillibrand. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Gillibrand, while known by around 40% of likely Democratic primary voters, according to INSIDER polling, has been struggling considerably in the shadow of Harris and Sanders.

She has fairly miserable polling numbers for a candidate of her caliber, not breaking through 0-2% in Morning Consult surveysdespite being one of the first to announce.

Gillibrand's supporters also like many of the other candidates ahead of her, and just 14% of respondents polled by INSIDER believe she could beat Trump in a general election match-up — the second-worst result of all the female candidates, and third-lowest overall.

Gillibrand hasn't been able to improve in the polls in the past month, but she did make waves in the July debates with her impassioned advocacy for women's issues and healthcare, putting her in 10th place on August 2.

Read more about Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign.

9: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Democratic presidential candidate and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California. Reuters

Among serious candidates with political experience at any level, Inslee is doing among the poorest when it comes to generating attention in the field.

Despite currently serving as a chief executive and previously serving in Congress for 15 years, he's barely managed to secure 1% in the Morning Consult polls.

While Inslee's performance in the polls hasn't markedly improved, we moved Inslee up into the top 10 in July for meeting both debate qualifications and having a unique message.

His ambitious climate plan, his impassioned climate advocacy at the Democratic debates, and his ongoing push for a DNC climate debate helped him make a powerful ally in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and situate him as a principled fighter for climate action.

Read more about Jay Inslee's campaign.

8: Andrew Yang.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Andrew Yang. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Yang, despite the low name recognition that accompanies running for POTUS without any political experience, is actually doing fairly well in INSIDER polling.

He isn't a favorite by any measure, polling at 1% in Morning Consult, but his online army of supporters and meme creators, known as the Yang Gang, helped Yang raise $1.7 million in just seven weeks almost entirely from small donations.

Yang's candidacy will test whether his unprecedented online popularity, an asset very few candidates have in this election, can translate not just into fundraising dollars but also into votes.

Yang has been able to sustain the buzz around his campaign for weeks despite his lack of political experience, has built a grassrootsnetwork of 110,000 unique donors, and hasn't let former Vice President Joe Biden's entrance into the race undermine his unique appeal and policy ideas.

We upgraded Yang from 10th place to 8th place on August 2 due to his being close to qualifying for the September debate and making a splash in the July debates, generating buzz over his compelling pitch for a universal basic income and the future of the American economy.

Read more about Andrew Yang's campaign.

7: Former San Antonio Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Julian Castro. Jim Waton/AFP/Getty Images

While around one-third of Democrats surveyed are aware of Castro, this has not translated into good polling numbers for the former cabinet secretary.

According to Morning Consult, Castro has been in the doldrums of polling at 1% for 2019. And he only raised $1.1 million in 2019's first quarter, less than other lesser-known candidates like Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, and John Hickenlooper.

Moreover, many of Castro's supporters would be satisfied with other candidates, according to INSIDER polling.

Sen. Kamala Harris, in particular, is consolidating a base of support that could eat Castro's lunch in early primary states like California, Nevada, South Carolina, and Arizona.

But Castro took advantage of the first Democratic primary debate to establish himself as an expert and moral authority on the issue of immigration, putting the pressure on fellow candidates to support decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings and taking a strategic shot at fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke on the subject.

Due to his strong performance in both the June and July debates and him being just one poll away from qualifying for the September debate, Castro holds 7th place in our ranking.

Read more about Julian Castro's campaign.

6: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Cory Booker, New Jersey senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.. Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for The Human Rights Campaign

Cory Booker is known by half of likely Democratic primary voters, but has not been able to translate that into good polling numbers, staying stagnant at 3-4% of the vote for the duration of 2019 in Morning Consult surveys.

His support is precarious in the sense that people who like Booker also like lots of other candidates.

75% of Booker supporters would be happy with Joe Biden, 66% would be satisfied with Kamala Harris, and 50% would be happy with Beto O'Rourke or Elizabeth Warren as the nominees, according to INSIDER polling.

We moved Booker up to 6th place on August 2 after he met both requirements to qualify for the next debate in September and gave a fiery, powerful showing in the July Democratic debates, making the case for his own candidacy and successfully exposing former VP Joe Biden's weaknesses on criminal justice, immigration, and more.

Read more about Cory Booker's campaign.

5: California Sen. Kamala Harris.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Democratic U.S. Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris. Reuters

Kamala Harris is fairly well-known for a first-term senator, and is perceived as being most able to defeat Trump in a general election out of all the senators running for president for the first time.

Harris also enjoys the greatest support among other candidates' supporters, INSIDER polling found.

73% of Gillibrand supporters, 72% of Klobuchar supporters, 67% of Buttigieg, 76% of Castro and 67% of Hickenlooper supporters would also be satisfied with Harris as the Democratic nominee, meaning she could consolidate a lot of support when her rivals drop out.

We upgraded Harris from 4th place to 1st place after her strong performance at the first round of Democratic debates. She took a strategic shot at Biden over his record on racial issues and opposition to busing, both establishing herself as an authority on racial issues, putting Biden on the defense, and knocking him down from his frontrunner status.

We knocked Harris back down to 5th place the week of July 19 because her disappointing 2nd quarter fundraising, where she didn't improve on her 1st quarter haul of $12 million. We kept her in 5th place on August 2 after she struggled to defend herself against criticism over her record on criminal justice.

Read more about Kamala Harris' campaign.

4: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

2020 Democratic Candidates

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg waves as he arrives for the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019.. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Mayor Pete is having a moment. Despite low overall name recognition, he's recently enjoyed a strong past few months in the polls and in fundraising.

The Democratic primary voters who do know him are fairly confident in his ability to beat Trump, compared to his more experienced and nationally known rivals, INSIDER polling found.

Buttigieg has enjoyed a considerable polling bump. In late April,Morning Consult has him ranked third behind Biden and Sanders at 8%, up from 0% in late February and 1% in March. He's currently at 5% in fifth place.

We initially underrated Buttigieg's chances, given the quickness of his rise and the nature of national electoral politics, but he's proven himself to be a lasting top-tier candidate.

While Buttigieg's numbers have slightly dipped in Morning Consult's polling, his sustained strong performance across multiple polls both shows he's not a flavor-of-the-month candidate and has lots of potential room to grow when his name recognition increases.

Mayor Pete raised the most money out of all 2020 Democrats in 2019's second quarter — bringing in $24.8 million.

Read more about Pete Buttigieg's campaign.

3: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Sen. Bernie Sanders during the first round of the second 2020 Democratic debate in Detroit, Michigan.. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Sanders enjoys widespread name recognition among Democrats from his decades serving in Congress and his 2016 run against Hillary Clinton. He's also established a grass-roots army of small donors that helped him lead the pack in fundraising with an $18.2 million haul in 2019's first quarter.

He is considered the top rival of Biden, and 37% think Sanders would beat Trump in a general election compared to 10% who think he'd lose, according to INSIDER polling.

Furthermore, INSIDER polling found that Sanders would be a satisfactory nominee for half of Biden supporters, which could seriously benefit him in case Biden's candidacy falters.

According to Morning Consult, Sanders is supported by 18% of Democrats— down three points from April 28.

But with Warren's surge, Sanders is now in the position of having to be on the defensive early in the process, with maxed-out name recognition and sliding poll numbers.

Sanders is in third place in this week's version of our ranking due to his strong showing at the second Democratic debates, in which he went on the offense and vigorously defended his policy positions.

Read more about Bernie Sanders' campaign.

2: Former Vice President and Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit. Reuters

Biden, who announced his long-awaited presidential bid on April 25, has unparalleled name recognition among Democrats from his eight years as President Barack Obama's vice president and 36 years in the US Senate.

Biden is also the only candidate who more than half of Democrats believe can win against Trump — according to INSIDER polling.

But Biden's frontrunner status took a big hit in the weeks leading up to and including the first Democratic debate, with his support in Morning Consult falling from 38% to 33% after the debate, and the percentage of Democratic primary voters who would be dissatisfied with him as the nominee increasing from 17 to 25% in INSIDER polling.

Despite taking a hit at the debates, Biden has managed to recover and bounced back in the polls.

While he preformed better in the second debate, he still struggled to defend his own record and came off as less prepared as other candidates, putting him in second place in our ranking.

Read more about Joe Biden's campaign.

1: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

2020 Democratic Candidates

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Among the candidates who have not previously run for president, Warren is the most well-known and considered to be a strong contender against Trump in a general election.

Warren overlaps considerably with Sanders and Biden's bases, with 40% of Biden and 40% of Sanders supporters also being satisfied with her as the nominee in INSIDER polling.

This puts her in a good position as a possible strong compromise choice if either or both of Biden and Sanders' campaigns end up falling flat.

Despite her name recognition, however, INSIDER polling respondents don't think Warren can beat Trump as easily as Biden, Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris or Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Warren is currently in 3rd place at 13% in Morning Consult pollingand has recently become the second most-discussed candidate on cable news behind Biden, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Warren is in first place in our ranking this week due to her strong debate performance on July 30, in which she successfully dominated the narrative and knocked down centrist candidates, like Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

Out of all the candidates, Warren is pretty much the only one who leaves each debate looking like a stronger candidate than before.