With South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg‘s official entrance into the 2020 presidential race Sunday, the field of Democratic candidates now stands at 18.

And while it’s quite a diverse field, recent presidential polling shows that Democratic voters continue to name former Vice President p Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as their top choices.

On Monday, Sanders received some pretty big news: For the first time since polling started for the 2020 presidential election, he has overtaken the lead from Biden:

A new poll released Monday has Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., leading the 2020 Democratic presidential field, ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and more than a dozen other potential White House challengers.

The poll, which was conducted by Emerson Polling, puts Sanders atop the already crowded Democratic field with 29 percent, followed by Biden – who has yet to declare his candidacy — with 24 percent and a surging South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounding off the top three with nine percent.


Besides Sanders plucking the top spot in the poll, the other big news from the Emerson survey was the rise of Pete Buttigieg.

Not only is the Emerson poll welcome news for Sanders and “Mini B” Buttigieg, but Biden has to feel good, too. Though he came in second place in this one, he’s clearly weathered the storms surrounding the numerous accusations of inappropriate touching that have plagued him over the last several weeks.

Also, once Biden officially announces, he’s likely to get a good 4 or 5 percentage point bump out of it on top of the big numbers he’s steadily put up for months.

All of this has to frustrate the identity-politics-obsessed Democrats who believe the path to retaking the White House ideally will involve a minority candidate like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) or Sen. Cory Booker (NJ).

Is there a double standard among Democratic primary voters when it comes to diversity?

“A few months ago, I imagined the top tier looking very different, especially after the 2018 midterm wins and the ‘Me Too’ movement,” one female Democratic strategist said. “It’s still early, but it is a little frustrating.”


Democratic strategist Jim Manley counts himself as surprised and cautions that much could change in the coming months. At the same time, he said “the reality is a lot of these women aren’t seeing much traction right now.”


“I think a lot of what’s happening is despite gains that women have made, they’re still dealing with a lot of latent sexism and double standards both from how voters perceive them and how they’re covered,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale. “When one of the male candidates does something intellectual they are smart and new, but when one of the female candidates [talks about their policies], they’re too bland or wonky to connect with voters.”

But what about Hillary’s storied 2008 campaign where she went toe to toe with Obama, and her 2016 campaign where she became the nominee?

She didn’t win the election because of misogyny or something, says one professor:

“I hate to say it, but as 2016 showed us, misogyny is alive and well,” said Katherine Jellison, a professor of history at Ohio University and a scholar of women’s studies.

“For some reason, when some people think of a president, they still think of a white male,” Jellison added. “It’s an image they carry around in their conscious or even subconscious mind.”

Horse pucky.

Here’s what I think is going on: I believe name recognition and sentimentality are the two biggest reasons Sanders and Biden have remained at the top of the pack. Both of them are the most well-known of all the candidates to Democratic voters.

Sanders almost became the nominee in 2016 after he ran a very spirited campaign against Hillary Clinton. Biden, of course, served as President Obama’s vice president. In fact, an obvious theme to Biden’s soon-to-be-campaign will be his emphasis on how his presidency will be an extension of Obama’s.

Plus, Democrats remain enraged about President Trump that they may view Biden or Sanders as more formidable opponents in a general election campaign against Trump than the rest of the Democratic field at this point.

Of course, it’s still early on in the race and much can change. About the only things certain at this point are the continued white-male-guilt apologies, the candidates zigzagging between painting themselves as the most reliably far left Democrat and the consensus-builder who is most able to bridge the vast left/right divide, and their characterizing Trump in the worst ways possible.

As they say, stay tuned.

–Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter.–


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