Apr 11, 2019

The wide Democratic field forces a bigger, longer, rougher 2020 race

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats' 2020 race is already one for the history books: There’s a tighter pack, more diversity, more authentically viable candidates, more early money, and more creative, meaty ideas than anyone expected.

Why it matters: This is a big, durable field of candidates with staying power — promising a long, diffuse scramble to define liberalism. It is unfolding in a reality distortion field, with early money and social media attention signaling Democrats are more liberal than they actually are.

The field has more lanes than were expected as the year began, so more candidates are likely to last until the snow flies:

  • Bernie Sanders' formidable fundraising means he starts stronger than expected.
  • Joe Biden starts weaker than expected, perhaps prolonging other candidates' runs. 
  • Pete Buttigieg started as a curiosity but now is a true force. He gave a speech about gay Americans last weekend that has been compared to Barack Obama's address on race, for having the potential to "live on past its moment," as MSNBC's Brian Williams put it.
  • Beto O'Rourke's sunniness promised to make him the field's crowd-pleaser, but he now could be diluted by Mayor Pete in competing as the fresh, new thing. 
  • Elizabeth Warren has announced a spate of clever, ambitious policy ideas that will keep her in the mix and conversation. 
  • Kamala Harris launched with a big bounce, and California's early spot in the primary calendar gives her a superpower you should not undervalue. 

A top veteran of Democratic politics tells me: "The race has gone to full steam preposterously early." Well, it’s only getting faster and more crowded. 

  • Be smart ... The Trump plan is simple: Scream "socialist!" until Election Day and make it a stark choice — and not a referendum on his behavior.
  • He’s betting the powerful swing to the Sanders left will play into his hands.

Go deeper:

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief — and televised coronavirus briefings that feature President Trump himself — present a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

CNN: Fauci advises all states issue stay-at-home orders

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Trump speak during a briefing on April 1. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.