Beto O'Rourke leapfrogs most of the 2020 Democratic field

It's Beto O'Rourke's world, every other Democrat is just living in it.That's the reality of the momen...

Posted: Dec 13, 2018 11:14 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2018 11:14 PM

It's Beto O'Rourke's world, every other Democrat is just living in it.

That's the reality of the moment as the Democratic Party begins to ramp up for what will almost certainly be the largest presidential field in modern memory. O'Rourke seems to be everywhere these days -- such as meeting with former President Barack Obama -- and is, without doubt, the candidate everyone else thinking about the 2020 race has (at least) one eye on.

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O'Rourke has that thing that every candidate -- Democrat or Republican -- wants: organic energy. He generates excitement everywhere he goes -- and is being urged to run by activists from all over the Democratic base.

He's the flavor of the moment, no question. But can he turn that initial excitement into a full-fledged campaign and sustain momentum over the next year-plus?

Below, our rankings of the 10 people most likely to wind up as the Democratic nominee against President Donald Trump in 2020. We do this every month, so if your preferred candidate isn't on the list (or isn't as high as you'd like) stay tuned!

10. Kirsten Gillibrand: There was some question as to whether the junior senator from New York was game for 2020. It now seems that she is seriously contemplating a bid. On the face of it, Gillibrand has a lot going for her. She has the most anti-Trump record of any senator. She has the megaphone that the New York media has to offer and easily won reelection there last month. Yet in a crowded field, Gillibrand may have some trouble standing out. (Previous ranking: Not ranked)

9. Julian Castro: He's running! Well, basically. The former San Antonio mayor tried to get a jumpstart on the pack this week when he announced he was forming an exploratory committee -- and would make a final decision by January 12. He's almost certainly in, but questions remain as to whether there is room for both young Texas Democratic firebrands, Castro and O'Rourke, in this race. (Previous ranking: 7)

8. Sherrod Brown: You want someone with a long progressive record and a history of winning in the Midwest, then let me introduce to senior senator from Ohio. Brown has one of the most liberal voting records of any senator. He just easily earned another Senate term from Ohio voters, despite all other major statewide Democratic candidates falling short. A Democrat winning Ohio's 18 electoral votes would be a major Electoral College boon, and Brown's electability could sell with Democrats desperate to beat Trump. Still, Brown's a white male in a party that is becoming less white and was intent on nominating women in 2018. He may not be a great fit. (Previous ranking: 9)

7. Amy Klobuchar: We probably had the Minnesota senator ranked too highly last month, given the obvious hurdles she has to clear -- namely that she isn't a well-known figure nationally (at all) and has to show she can raise money to compete with some of the top-tier folks. Still, Klobuchar's serious and steady approach to politics and policy -- not to mention her Midwestern roots -- could make her a player in the Iowa caucuses. (Previous ranking: 4)

6. Bernie Sanders: The case for the independent senator from Vermont is fairly simple. He won over 40% of the 2016 primary vote, and the party has, if anything, moved closer to his leftist positions since that election. Sanders also has an infrastructure in place and name recognition to stand out from a crowded field. We wonder though if time has passed Sanders by. He just came in third in a straw poll with just 13% among progressive MoveOn.org activists. Sanders won 78% in that same straw poll in 2016. Additionally, other fresher faces may be better able to claim the outsider label in 2016. It was the ability to seem outside the establishment that propelled Sanders in 2016 more than anything else. (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Elizabeth Warren: The last month has made clear just how much damage Warren did to her chances with a badly botched attempt to put to rest questions about her Native American heritage. The Massachusetts senator seems to be struggling to regain that momentum, although it's important to note -- as Politico reported recently -- that she has already begun the laborious process of building a 2020 campaign machine. That, plus the more than $12 million she has in the bank to spend on a presidential bid, mean Warren may be down, but she's not out. (Previous ranking: 2)

4. Cory Booker: New Jersey's junior senator manages to keep moving up our list. Part of that is attributable to the clear yearning for young faces among Democratic activists. (Booker is only 49.) Part of that is that a tireless work ethic that seems to be paying dividends. When noting how much money Booker raised for New Hampshire Democrats, state party chairman Ray Buckley said Booker is "the best friend New Hampshire Democrats had in 2018." Booker, who is black and the former mayor of Newark (50% black), could be in a prime position to win black voters, who will make up 20%-25% of the primary electorate. Booker though has his flaws. But some progressives view him as a dreaded "neoliberal," and some may see him as a bit over-dramatic (see his "Spartacus" moment). (Previous ranking: 5)

3. Joe Biden: Everything the former vice president has said and done over the past year makes it very clear that he is planning on running for president. The latest? His assertion that he is the "most qualified" person in the country to be president. And the vast majority of polls we've seen put Biden at or very near the top of the field. The question is, can her maintain that frontrunner status in a party that seems less than interested in picking a septuagenarian white male as its next national face? (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Beto O'Rourke: The guy just lost a Senate race. And yet, here we are with O'Rourke in second. It's tough not to pay attention to a candidate who seems to have energized Democratic activists in Iowa, won the MoveOn.org straw poll (showing he has some oomph with grassroots progressives), has won plaudits from Obama and is making moves toward running. Oh, and we don't think it's going to be particularly difficult for O'Rourke to get noticed given he just raised nearly $80 million for a Senate bid. Still, folks really shouldn't get ahead of themselves. Being ranked second in what will be a very large field is a long way away from actually winning. Will Democrats actually nominate a white man in 2020? Can O'Rourke actually stand the spotlight that is sure to come if he runs? We may just find out soon enough. (Previous ranking: 10)

1. Kamala Harris: If O'Rourke looked like he was definitely running, we might have made him number one. But it's still up in the air, which means that the California senator is in our top spot for a second straight month. She appears to be moving methodically toward running, and her profile -- an Indian-American and African-American woman with a law-and-order background -- looks tailor made for the 2020 Democratic electorate. Harris' big challenge? She's never been on a stage as big the one she will be on if and when she announces she's running. (Previous ranking: 1)

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Reported Deaths: 1660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18197820
Ramsey7047261
Dakota4049103
Anoka3410113
Stearns284220
Washington193843
Nobles17496
Olmsted163523
Scott141017
Mower10842
Rice10028
Blue Earth8595
Wright8205
Carver7922
Clay75240
Kandiyohi6771
Sherburne6577
St. Louis45319
Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3551
Steele3331
Nicollet32013
Benton3103
Watonwan2990
Winona24916
Crow Wing21313
Martin2045
Le Sueur2021
Beltrami2000
Chisago1821
Otter Tail1793
Goodhue1778
Cottonwood1730
Becker1471
Pipestone1439
McLeod1400
Unassigned14040
Polk1353
Itasca13412
Douglas1320
Waseca1300
Pine1280
Carlton1260
Dodge1230
Murray1221
Isanti1100
Chippewa991
Brown852
Faribault840
Meeker832
Morrison821
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Rock750
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson700
Mille Lacs683
Cass622
Fillmore610
Renville605
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant511
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau460
Pope450
Houston390
Norman370
Hubbard320
Redwood320
Marshall290
Kanabec281
Wilkin283
Aitkin270
Mahnomen241
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake200
Lake180
Stevens160
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 46100

Reported Deaths: 887
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9781203
Woodbury365651
Black Hawk302262
Linn214587
Johnson195915
Dallas179635
Buena Vista178612
Scott161512
Dubuque154929
Marshall139424
Pottawattamie122723
Story111714
Wapello85032
Muscatine83048
Webster7366
Crawford7213
Sioux6022
Cerro Gordo57917
Tama53929
Warren5341
Jasper45825
Wright4441
Plymouth4438
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3213
Washington28810
Hamilton2411
Boone2312
Franklin2256
Bremer1927
Clarke1883
Carroll1821
Emmet1812
Clay1711
Shelby1691
Hardin1660
Marion1550
Allamakee1504
Poweshiek1508
Benton1451
Jackson1411
Des Moines1392
Mahaska13617
Floyd1312
Guthrie1285
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
Butler1152
Buchanan1141
Henry1143
Pocahontas1141
Lyon1060
Madison1052
Clayton993
Cherokee981
Harrison980
Lee973
Taylor930
Humboldt921
Delaware911
Iowa901
Monona900
Winneshiek861
Mills830
Calhoun822
Fayette810
Sac810
Palo Alto800
Kossuth780
Osceola780
Jefferson770
Winnebago770
Mitchell760
Page760
Grundy741
Union721
Monroe677
Worth610
Chickasaw510
Davis501
Lucas504
Howard490
Cass481
Montgomery453
Appanoose433
Greene380
Fremont350
Van Buren331
Keokuk311
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur220
Adair210
Ringgold211
Wayne181
Adams160
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