Joe Biden is the clear 2020 front-runner now

Joe Biden's official entrance to the 2020 campaign made him an automatic frontrunner. Chris Cillizza explains how he came out ahead.

Posted: May 9, 2019 8:28 AM
Updated: May 9, 2019 10:00 AM


The lengthy run-up to Joe Biden's official entrance into the 2020 race was, in a word, shaky. Which makes his flawless execution of the early days of his actual candidacy all the more impressive.

Since entering the race on April 25, the former vice president has rapidly solidified his status as the front-runner. Polling -- nationally and in key early states -- shows Biden lengthening his lead over all comers. He is driving the conversation in the race; suddenly 'electability' is the buzzword for 2020 Democrats. And he is the target of attacks from his rivals -- most notably Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has gently chided Biden for his vote in support of the war in Iraq as well as for NAFTA. And President Donald Trump himself seems to be concerned about Biden, blasting off a series of tweets and retweets about him in the first days of the Democratic hopeful's candidacy.

Those are all the traits of a front-runner. And while it's not terribly surprising that Biden is back on top of the race, what we find remarkable is the ease -- and rapidity -- with which he has achieved that position. Now the question Biden has to answer is, how long can he stay on top?

Below, the 10 candidates with the best chance of winding up as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.

10. Julián Castro: Well, the good news for the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development is that he has qualified for the June debates. The bad news is almost everything else. On most days, he's at 0% or 1% in the polls. Castro's calls for impeachment hearings on Trump has mostly been met with silence. Castro certainly has a niche to fill in the primary as the only Latino candidate competing in a primary in which more than 10% of voters will be Latino. But it's not clear how far that will take him. Castro still has not even even hit 65,000 unique donors, despite being in the race since the beginning of the year. (Previous ranking: 10)

9. Kirsten Gillibrand: The New York senator made some waves over the weekend with a New York Times story detailing her argument that she is the most electable Democrat in the field -- citing her track record of winning Trump counties in her past Senate races. Which, maybe? Electability is very much in the eye of the beholder, though, as Trump proved in 2016. It still feels like Gillibrand is desperately seeking a foothold in this race. (Previous ranking: 9)

8. Cory Booker: The junior senator from New Jersey's best news of the last few weeks is how well Biden has done entering the race. We say that because Booker has tried to sell a message of unity, which, even if it hasn't worked for Booker, has worked for Biden. Our latest CNN poll does show that primary voters do want someone who can work with Republicans. Booker also is hoping that he will be able to break through with black voters who have been attracted to Biden's candidacy. You'll notice though that we use the word 'hoping' (i.e. it hasn't happened yet). So far, Booker hasn't attracted a large donor base and is polling below 5%. (Previous ranking: 8)

7. Amy Klobuchar: Klobuchar put her argument that she is one of the only candidates in the field who can win Democrats, independents and Republicans to the test this week, becoming only the second candidate to appear at a town hall on Fox News. (Sanders was the first.) It's too soon to know if her gamble paid off, but her decision to appear on Fox sends a clear signal that the Minnesota senator is playing the long game in this race. (Previous ranking: 7)

6. Beto O'Rourke: The big story here is that the fall continues for the former US representative from Texas. He ranked second in our list back in December and has slowly declined. O'Rourke has seen competition in the young, outsider department from South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He polled in the low double-digits upon launch, but is closer to that 5% mark now. It seems that Democrats liked him when he was taking on Ted Cruz in 2018, while they're more skeptical of him on the national stage. (Previous ranking: 5)

5. Elizabeth Warren: Slowly but surely, Warren continues to climb back up these rankings after she tumbled down them earlier this year. How? Well, Warren remains one of the leading liberals in the country -- and has leaned into that image of late, taking to the Senate floor earlier this week to call for Trump's impeachment. She's trending upward, for sure. But can she convince voters she's a better choice for liberals than, say, Sanders? (Previous ranking: 6)

4. Pete Buttigieg: The big question for the South Bend mayor is whether he's hit a wall in support. Buttigieg basically came out of nowhere thanks to his CNN town hall performance two months ago. He went from polling at about 0% beforehand to above 5% in the polls by early April, but hasn't really gotten much higher. If anything, polling indicates Buttigieg is slowly receding. The problem is he cannot seem to expand beyond his very liberal, wealthier and white base. Witness a recent rally he held in South Carolina aimed at securing black support. The crowd was overwhelmingly white. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Kamala Harris: There's no question that the emergence of Biden as the race's clear front-runner has made it more difficult for the likes of Harris -- a clear contender for the nomination -- to get significant attention. Of late, Harris has seized on the idea of electability -- and its gendered and racial overtones -- as a way to wage war on the political and media establishment. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Bernie Sanders: The last few weeks have been rough on the junior senator from Vermont. His polling has slid back to at best 15%. In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, he fell to third place. Sanders has gone after Biden's record in hopes making this a two-man race. He must hope that not only is Biden's bounce in the polls temporary (and there is good reason to think it is), but that he will be the beneficiary if Biden comes back to the pack. Polling at 15% and having universal name recognition is not an amazing place to be. (Previous ranking: 1)

1. Joe Biden: The former vice president is, at the moment, in a tier of his own in this race. And it's the top one. That's a remarkable bounce back for Biden from a very unsteady run-up to the announcement of his campaign. With every passing day that Biden rolls out more support in early voting states or a poll emerges that has him well ahead of the field, his position strengthens. And with every passing day Biden doesn't make any headline-grabbing gaffes, the better he looks, too. (Previous ranking: 2)

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110759

Reported Deaths: 3503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20645758
Lake10172317
Elkhart6321108
St. Joseph600797
Allen5921200
Hamilton4646109
Vanderburgh327129
Hendricks2638121
Monroe236836
Johnson2250122
Tippecanoe218413
Clark210156
Porter203344
Cass19279
Delaware184261
Vigo175722
Madison156575
LaPorte135637
Floyd130061
Howard127063
Kosciusko118717
Bartholomew114557
Warrick111935
Marshall98024
Boone94446
Dubois94018
Hancock90042
Noble87632
Grant86733
Henry75424
Wayne73714
Jackson7319
Morgan69438
Shelby66329
Daviess63927
LaGrange62911
Dearborn62128
Clinton59112
Harrison55624
Putnam5209
Montgomery50221
Lawrence50028
White47814
Knox4769
Gibson4644
Decatur45339
DeKalb44211
Miami4223
Fayette41713
Greene41535
Jasper3802
Steuben3647
Scott35310
Sullivan32812
Jennings30812
Posey2940
Franklin29325
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll26913
Wabash2608
Washington2571
Starke2487
Wells2472
Whitley2476
Adams2403
Jefferson2403
Fulton2302
Huntington2173
Spencer2154
Tipton21522
Randolph2067
Perry20213
Newton17011
Jay1680
Owen1641
Martin1590
Rush1494
Pike1361
Vermillion1250
Fountain1152
Blackford1142
Pulaski1131
Crawford1020
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 143547

Reported Deaths: 4612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25846603
Cuyahoga17041642
Hamilton12698307
Montgomery7443152
Lucas7091357
Butler558699
Summit5073248
Marion305747
Mahoning2988279
Warren289348
Stark2723168
Pickaway262844
Lorain225386
Delaware211620
Fairfield199950
Columbiana191880
Licking185362
Trumbull1847131
Clark170738
Wood167971
Clermont161120
Lake157249
Medina142038
Allen136567
Miami134149
Greene133827
Portage106466
Mercer104417
Tuscarawas91020
Wayne89866
Erie89644
Ross84922
Richland78119
Madison77612
Darke75939
Belmont70527
Geauga70147
Hancock6559
Ashtabula64148
Athens5882
Lawrence58818
Auglaize5629
Shelby5619
Sandusky55420
Putnam53723
Huron5217
Union4832
Ottawa46430
Scioto4596
Seneca43514
Preble41813
Holmes3707
Muskingum3672
Jefferson3184
Henry29412
Logan2913
Champaign2873
Perry2849
Defiance27910
Clinton27813
Knox27815
Brown2732
Hardin24913
Morrow2472
Washington24623
Fulton2321
Coshocton23011
Jackson2284
Fayette2256
Ashland2224
Highland2203
Crawford2176
Wyandot20112
Williams1973
Gallia17912
Meigs1709
Hocking1599
Guernsey1557
Pike1530
Carroll1497
Adams1204
Van Wert1103
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison601
Morgan460
Vinton453
Noble260
Unassigned00
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