While it may seem early, the beginning of the 2020 presidential election is closer than we may think and many prospective candidates have been talking about entering the race for months. After the disastrous campaign that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party ran against President Donald Trump in 2016, Democrats from across the country have set their sights on finding the perfect candidate for the next election.

In order to gain the upper hand in the upcoming race, the question that the DNC has been asking themselves is this: why did Hillary Clinton lose the election? While many attribute the shocking loss to the infamously timed Comey letter, illicit Russian involvement or the overwhelming misogyny in American culture, the most pressing issue Democrats need to fix before 2020 is the substantial divide in their party. Although most Democratic voters were more or less in agreement on many key issues, one of the most notable differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voters from 2016 was their level of faith in institutions. Clinton’s supporters were often more quick to trust the political system; Sanders supporters were not. This conflict between Democrats proved monumental in the election: the Cooperative Congressional Election Study says that around 1 in 10 people that voted for Sanders during the primaries ended up supporting Trump in November.

Repeating this kind of conflict in 2020 would be absolutely detrimental to the Democratic party. Over the next few years, they must focus on keeping their nominee favorable, determined and able to unite the party. Here’s a look at five anticipated candidates who could do just that:

Sen. Cory Booker

Cory Booker, the first African American senator in the state of New Jersey, has been described as “an ambitious American politician with a flair for drama”. At the age of 48 he is the youngest prospective candidate on this list, and yet he has more than enough to show for his years in politics. He was elected as the mayor of Newark, NJ in 2006, where he not only saved a slowly crumbling city from financial crisis but proved his sense of bravery and sacrifice for his citizens: he famously ran into a burning building to save his neighbor, helped a freezing dog in the street and invited victims from Hurricane Sandy to stay at his house until electricity returned to their neighborhoods. Booker was sworn in as a United States Senator on October 31, 2013, after winning a New Jersey special election, and has since served on the US Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Commerce, Science & Transportation, Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and Environmental & Public Works.

When asked whether or not he intended to run for president in 2020, Booker denied any current plans. “I want to be authentic and who I am right now,” Booker told CNN in July. “I want to be a person of purpose, not thinking about a future office.”

Sen. Kamala Harris

A 53-year-old California Senator and Bay Area native, Kamala Harris is a recent yet driving force in Washington. After graduating from Howard University in 1986 and completing her law degree at UC Hastings, she started working for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. She stayed there for almost ten years, specializing in child rape and sexual abuse cases. In 1998 she became the managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and only six years later was elected the Attorney General for the city of San Francisco, the first woman in history to achieve the position. One of her biggest projects while in San Francisco was the “Back on Track” program designed to keep low-level drug offenders out of prison through job training. Her program was hugely successful as only 10% of its participants were incarcerated again compared to the statewide average of 53%.  Similar programs arose across the nation as Harris was elected the California Attorney General in 2010 and most recently was sworn in as a Senator for the State of California in January 2017, only the second African-American woman senator in American history. She has been an avid supporter of Medicare over the last 11 months.

Harris has raised serious speculation over whether she will run for president in 2020. Despite the fact that she is easily the least experienced contender on this list, she has proven that she is a strong-willed and an incredibly influential politician. As conservative political commentator Ann Coulter said in October: “I say if Kamala Harris runs, she is the Democratic nominee.”

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden is easily the strongest candidate for the Democratic nomination. He chose not run in the 2016 election after his son Beau died of brain cancer, telling 60 Minutes that he could not “run the kind of campaign we have to run to be able to win.” Biden, a 74-year-old graduate of the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School, was only age 29 when he was sworn in as a senator in Delaware, the fifth-youngest in US history. He served as a senator for a total of 36 years and ran for president two times: once in 1988 and again in 2008. Despite lackluster attempts to get the ball rolling during his 2008 campaign, Democratic nominee (and future president) Barack Obama chose Biden as his running mate and the dynamic duo each served eight years in the White House.

While Joe Biden admits to having “nothing but regret about not running in 2016,”  he has firmly denied planning a third run for president, telling a crowd in May: “Guys, I’m not running!” More recently, however, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” Chris Matthews has claimed that another Biden campaign is highly likely, saying, “I’ve talked to his family. He’s running. OK? Fact.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Born in 1949, Elizabeth Warren is an influential and highly acclaimed Democratic Senator. As the first person in her family to go to college, she was an incredibly gifted student: she graduated high school at only 16 years old and attended George Washington University with a full scholarship for debate. She later moved to Texas where she graduated from the University of Houston and completed her law degree at Rutgers Law School in 1976. As a lawyer, Warren investigated the effect of bankruptcy and commercial law on the working class, women, struggling businesses and families. From there she set her sights on becoming a professor, teaching law at a handful of schools such as Rutgers University, the University of Texas, Houston, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In 1995 she accepted a position at Harvard Law School, where she won numerous teaching awards and was incredibly well-liked. She was elected as the first woman senator for the state of Massachusetts in 2012 and has since been appointed as the Assistant to the President and the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury by President Obama. There was a large amount of speculation over whether or not Hillary Clinton would choose her as a running mate in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton herself admits that “Elizabeth was on my list of potential choices for Vice President,” but in the end, the Democratic nominee went with Senator Tim Kaine.

There is a real possibility that Elizabeth Warren could run for president: according to a user poll on MSNBC, 87% of people agree that there will be a campaign in her future. Twitter has been talking about #Warren2020 since 2016. When she was asked about a 2020 presidential bid in August, Warren simply replied, “I am not running for president, I’m doing my work.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the wildly popular independent senator from Vermont, is one of the most prominent candidates for the 2020 presidential race. A 76-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, Sanders moved to Vermont shortly after graduating from the University of Chicago in 1964. In college, he was an officer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and was lucky enough to hear Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech firsthand. He was elected as the mayor of Burlington in 1981 and was voted Vermont’s only congressman in 1990. As a state representative, he strongly opposed issues such as the Gulf War and fought for same-sex marriage, higher minimum wage and shrinking the wealth gap. Sanders ran as a Democrat in the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton, where he lost the Democratic nomination by only 359 pledged delegates. 

Many people believe that Sanders will run for president in 2020. A 2017 poll suggests that he is one of the most popular politicians in the country with a whopping 75% approval rating. He has raised serious speculation about a future campaign with a busy travel schedule and a newly published book. According to one of Sanders’ associates, “he believes if he would have been the [Democratic] candidate he would have won against Trump.”

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