Spoiler: None of the them.
The 2020 Democratic presidential primary has already begun, whether you like it or not. In fact, we are are already midway through the two-year “invisible primary,” in which prospective candidates first jockey for stature, and then move toward nailing down top donors, staff and volunteers. So, who’s winning?
Because of its invisible nature, accurately assessing how the first year went is tricky business. Who knew that Barack Obama’s time spent in 2005 writing “The Audacity of Hope” would lead to a best-selling phenomenon that catapulted his candidacy? Who recognized that Donald Trump was seizing the Republican pole position in 2013 by suing Bill Maher over an orangutan sex joke, publicly questioning the merits of allowing women to serve with men in the military, complaining that Jon Stewart was calling him F**kface Von Clownstick, blaming “blacks and Hispanics" for “overwhelming amount of violent crime” and teasing a run in Iowa?
But not every nomination is won by an unanticipated celebrity juggernaut. Ask Mitt Romney, John McCain, John Kerry, George W. Bush, Bob Dole or Bill Clinton. Sometimes it’s the old-fashioned networking in early primary states and record of political accomplishment that gives a candidate an early lead that persists through the inevitable ups and downs.
So, did any Democrat have an exceptional 2017 to help put them in command once the invisible primary ends and the visible primary begins on Wednesday, November 7, 2018?
Not exactly. But some candidates clearly have done more than others. Here’s a look back at how some of the more active presidential wannabes spent their year.
The Not-Democrat Democrat
The candidate who best fortified his position as the public face of the Democratic Party is unquestionably Sen. Bernie Sanders. How much more airtime does he get than everyone else in pack? Consider this stat: Bernie was a guest on the Sunday morning talk shows for a whopping 21 out of 52 weeks this year. No other potential candidate appeared more than four times.