The Upside of 23 Candidates for President

Over the past few days I’ve finally gotten the feeling that the Democratic Party’s campaign to unseat Donald Trump in 2020 is seriously underway. We’ve seen the showcasing of a number of Democrats in California. Iowa just hosted presentations from nearly all of our many primary candidates. We’re starting to see our presidential hopefuls differentiate themselves and their ideas from each other while also pointing out the many ways President Trump is harming the long-term interests of everyday Americans. 

As of right now there are (I think) 23 Democrats who have officially declared they believe they can defeat Donald Trump next year. (Actually at this point the total number of Democrats who have submitted their names as presidential candidates to the Federal Election Commission is an incredible 254!) 

Unless in the coming months some charismatic game changer emerges from those other 231 presidential hopefuls, the 23 names now considered legitimate challengers will not get any larger. (But never say “never.”) 

Even 23 competitors for the presidency is a large crowd for interested voters to sort out. At the moment, the two Democrats with the largest percentage of national name recognition and support are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Biden’s percentage is somewhere in the mid-thirties, Sanders’ is a bit less. Candidates, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg each have respectable double-digit support percentages. And beyond those candidates there are a number of other impressive men and women with the potential to rise in popularity. 

However, to put all that in perspective, the Washington Post recently noted that on about this date four years ago Hillary Clinton led the pack of Democratic candidates with a 57% ranking. With 236 days until the Iowa caucuses, there is no Democrat with close to the voter support Clinton had already sewn up in 2015.  

Realistically, I think our much different situation today is a very good thing. Donald Trump controls the “bully pulpit” of the White House. He also has the support of his personal propaganda network, Fox News, as well as conservative AM radio networks. He can spew out endless disinformation and outright lies daily. 

So, the more months that pass with multiple Democratic candidates presenting their messages to American voters, the more Trump’s messaging power is diluted. Month after month, between now and next summer, voters will be exposed to a range of intriguing and hopeful ideas; they will meet a variety articulate, intelligent, caring Democratic candidates serious about helping them. And with each month of such messaging, Trump will be weakened.  

Add to that scenario, months of Democratic candidates pointing out the lies, failures and betrayals Trump has committed against his most avid supporters. (And who knows what revelations about Trump’s corruption may be exposed as a result of future Congressional hearings.) 

Of course, President Trump can always create headlines to take attention away from what our party’s candidates are saying. But even that tactic has its limits. Trump’s recent “Mexican crisis” — solved when he saved the day with an agreement that was actually already in place — is an example of how phony his distractions are becoming. These ploys may continue to impress his most loyal supporters but the general public is getting wise to the game he repeatedly plays.  

If there were just one, or even two or three, Democrats with a serious chance to win the White House next year, Trump’s attack plan would be much simpler. But with so many really sharp Democrats getting press coverage, spreading their messages via every form of media and meeting potential voters face to face in town halls across America, Donald Trump is going to be driven crazier than he already is. — Plus he’s going to have to come up with 23 derogatory nicknames. Being a bully isn’t supposed to be so complicated. Poor Donald.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973