US Presidential Election 2020 - Democratic Primary Update

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This note summarises the primary contest for the US Democratic Party’s nominee in next year’s presidential election. We explore the positions of the leading candidates in three key policy areas and how these are to be funded, and we consider the ideological divide that is defining their respective positions – the conflict between market-friendly moderates and ‘Democratic Socialist’-inflected progressives. This latter camp is promoting programs readers in the UK will identify as mirroring the Corbyn-led Labour agenda – the question is will this primary reveal an appetite among Democrats for a more radical path than would historically have been viewed as electorally credible.

The Democratic primary field’s vanguard has become much better defined around four candidates – and two of them have seen a recent redistribution of ‘momentum’ their way. An initial field of 20 qualifying candidates was arranged into two groups of 10 pitching on consecutive nights of live televised debates, these groups determined by a drawing of lots. Thus, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was the only one of the current leading quartet to appear on the first night. Here, she had an advantage in name-recognition, and her closest rivals, including Texas congressman Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke and New Jersey senator Cory Booker, underwhelmed in their performance. Warren was able to bring her message of corporate scepticism and ironed-out spending plans to a greater audience.

 

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