- The number of major candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 is narrowed down to just two: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- Tom Steyer, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar all dropped out after poor showings in the February 29 South Carolina primary, with the latter two endorsing Biden.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Mike Bloomberg also both quit the race after being thoroughly boxed out by Biden and Sanders on Super Tuesday, with neither winning a single state.
- Here’s a list of the major party 2020 presidential candidates.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
While the Democratic primary field had over 20 candidates at one point, making it the largest and most diverse in modern history, the pack has narrowed down to just two major candidates in the aftermath of Super Tuesday.
The most recent Democratic candidates to drop out were Tom Steyer, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who all quit the race after disappointing finishes in the South Carolina primary.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Mike Bloomberg also both quit the race after being thoroughly boxed out by Biden and Sanders on Super Tuesday, with neither winning a single state. Bloomberg is now throwing his weight and considerable financial resources behind Biden.
Here are all the major party candidates running for president in 2020:
Former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware
After months of teasing a presidential run, Biden officially entered the race with a video announcement on April 25, the 20th Democratic candidate to join the Democratic field.
“…if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen,”Biden said in his announcement.
Biden, 77, enters the race as a frontrunner with unparalleled name recognition among Democratic primary voters, leading nearly every single pre-primary poll conducted before he officially declared his candidacy.
Biden, who served as President Barack Obama’s Vice President for eight years and a US Senator for 36, is drawing on his blue-collar roots and close ties to organised labour to directly challenge Trump in Rust Belt states he carried in 2016.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Bernie Sanders will be competing for the Democratic nomination for the second time, he announced on February 19.
The 77 year-old Vermont senator, who is officially an independent but caucuses with Democrats in Congress, and former Burlington mayor has been a progressive stalwart for decades and built up a strong base of support for his platform in 2016 despite falling short to Hillary Clinton in the primary.
“Our campaign is about more than beating Donald Trump,” he said in his announcement video. “It’s about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.”
While Sanders is was the leader in national pledged delegates due to his wins in New Hampshire and Nevada and second-place finishes in Iowa and South Carolina, he was thoroughly knocked back on his heels on Super Tuesday when Biden thoroughly trounced him nationwide, including in states like Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota that Sanders was previously projected to win.
Former Governor Bill Weld of Massachusetts
Weld, who served as Massachusetts’ governor in the 1990s and was more recently on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016 as presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s running mate, announced his campaign on April 15.
“It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all,” he said in his announcement statement.
“There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”
Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
Gabbard announced her candidacy on January 11 in an interview with CNN’s Van Jones.
The Hawaii representative has been in Congress since 2012, and has been at times a rising star for progressives but also sometimes challenging to the rest of her party. Her positions on foreign policy, in particular, have at times put her at odds with many on the left over the past year or two.
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump is seeking reelection in 2020. He announced his intentions to do so just days into his first term, on January 20, 2017.
Dropped out: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
On a video posted to her website on December 31, 2018, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warrenannounced that she was launching an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2020. In the video, Warren – who had long been expected to run – described her vision of defending the middle class, which she said was “under attack.”
After running an impressive campaign operation, having breakout moments, and even being labelled as a frontrunner at points, Warren officially ended her campaign on March 5 after a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday, including coming in third place in her home state of Massachusetts.
In her last 2020 campaign press conference, Elizabeth Warren says one of the hardest parts of leaving the race is "all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years." pic.twitter.com/SV4QBvQ0Og
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) March 5, 2020
Dropped out: Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg
On November 7, The New York Times reported that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was making a late entrance in the 2020 Democratic primary and has filed to run in the Democratic primary presidential primaries in Alabama and Arkansas.
Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $US55 billion, has the luxury of being able to self-fund his campaign and has spent over half a billion dollars on ads already, leading to him soaring up the polls going into Super Tuesday.
But on Super Tuesday itself, Bloomberg’s hundreds of millions in spending didn’t translate to very much success at the polls. Bloomberg only won American Samoa’s caucus outright, and earned just 46 of the 1,357 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday.
He dropped out the morning after Super Tuesday and publicly endorsed Biden.
Three months ago, I entered the race to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I'm leaving for the same reason. Defeating Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. It's clear that is my friend and a great American, @JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/cNJDIQHS75
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) March 4, 2020
Dropped out: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
On February 10, three-term US Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar became the 12th Democratic candidate and 6th woman to jump into the 2020 field.
In true Minnesota fashion, Klobuchar announced her candidacy at an outdoor event during a blizzard, giving her speech without a hat, gloves, or a teleprompter.
Klobuchar is counting on her reputation as a measured, pragmatic moderate with a “Minnesota nice” demeanour to dominate among Midwestern voters – and pose a stark contrast to President Donald Trump.
After coming in third place in New Hampshire but failing to gain any traction in Nevada or South Carolina, Klobuchar is dropping out of the race and endorsing Biden on March 2.
Dropped out: Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on January 23, 2019 via a video and email sent to his supporters.
The mayor just turned 37, making him the youngest entrant (so far) in the battle for the Democratic nomination. Buttigieg is also the only openly gay candidate to date in the running.
Along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Buttigieg is one of three military combat veterans running for the Democratic nod, having served with the US Naval Reserve in Afghanistan in 2013.
In the video, Buttigieg, who is making the jump from city to national politics, said he belongs to “a generation that is stepping forward right now.”
“We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11, and we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different,” he said in his announcement video.
After coming in first and Iowa and second in New Hampshire, Buttigieg dropped out of the race on March 1, 2020, after disappointing finishes in the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary.
Dropped out: Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado
Bennet, the 21st Democrat and seventh US senator to announce a 2020 presidential campaign, is currently serving his second elected term as Colorado’s senior senator.
“I think this country faces two enormous challenges,” Bennet said about his decision to run on “CBS This Morning”.
“One is a lack of economic opportunity and mobility for most Americans and the need to restore integrity to our government.”
As a senator, Bennet has mainly been known for his quiet intellect, bipartisan legislative achievements, and affable demeanour.
But this January the usually demure Bennet went viral for an uncharacteristically fiery and passionate speech on the Senate floor slamming Sen. Ted Cruz for shedding “crocodile tears” over the then-ongoing government shutdown.
Bennet dropped out of the race on February 11, 2020, the night of the New Hampshire primary.
Dropped out: Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang, an American entrepreneur and founder of Venture for America, announced his presidential candidacy on November 6, 2017.
Yang’s campaign prominently featured giving all Americans a basic $US1,000 monthly income, and became a major national campaign, outlasting several Senators and Governors, partly thanks to the loyal online following and grassroots base Yang cultivated.
Yang dropped out of the race on February 11, the night of the New Hampshire primary.
Dropped out: Billionaire financier and liberal activist Tom Steyer
Steyer, who is 62 and based in San Francisco, made his fortune as an investor and hedge fund manager – but has since focused his efforts on advancing progressive causes with two organisations: Need To Impeach, and NextGen America, the latter of which is focused on combating climate change.
In January 2019, Steyer said he did not plan to run for president and would be “dedicating 100% of my time and effort in 2019 towards Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.”
But Steyer since changed his mind, making a late entrance into the 2020 field with a video announcement on July 9 and planning to spend at least $US100 million of his own money on his campaign.
Steyer dropped out of the race on February 29, 2020, the night of the South Carolina primary.
Dropped out: Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
Patrick also made a late entry into the race, officially announcing his campaign on November 14.
While Patrick hasn’t been very active on the political scene for the past few years, he’s led a long career in business and politics. He served as the governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015, and was most recently a managing director at Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Sen. Mitt Romney.
“I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field,” Patrick said in his announcement video. “But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country.”
Patrick will have a tough uphill battle in his presidential bid. He’s already missed the filing deadline for two Super Tuesday state primaries in Alabama and Arkansas, and unlike Bloomberg, doesn’t have billions of dollars in personal wealth to draw from.
Patrick dropped out of the race the day after the New Hampshire primary.
Dropped out: Former Tea Party congressman and conservative radio show host Joe Walsh.
Walsh, who served one term in Congress from 2011 to 2013, announced he would launch a primary challenge against Trump on August 25.
Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Walsh said, “We’ve got a guy in the White House who is unfit, completely unfit to be president and it stuns me that nobody stepped up, nobody in the Republican party stepped up.”
While Walsh initially voted for and supported Trump, he has since become one of Trump’s most vocal critics, calling Trump’s behaviour “narcissistic” and “childish.”
Joe Walsh ended his primary challenge on February 7, 2020.
Dropped out: Former Representative John Delaney of Maryland
Former Maryland Representative John Delaney was the first major Democrat to declare a presidential bid.
Delaney, who was a US representative from 2013 to 2019, announced his decision to run on July 28, 2017.
In a Washington Post op-ed announcing his candidacy, Delaney said “The current administration is making us less prosperous and less secure. I’m running because I have an original approach to governing and an economic policy that can put us on a different course.”
After failing to raise much money or get any traction whatsoever in the polls, Delaney quit the race on January 31, 2020.
Dropped out: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
Cory Booker, the 11th Democrat to jump into the race, officially announced his candidacy for President on February 1.
Booker has served in the US Senate since 2013, and is known for his liberal voting record and emphasis on social and criminal justice issues. He played a key role in passing a large bipartisan criminal justice bill, the First Step Act, in December.
Before being elected to the Senate, booker served two terms as Mayor of Newark, New Jersey where he still resides. He holds a degree from Stanford University, where he played on the football team, and a law degree from Yale University.
While Booker preached a progressive message of love, unity, and looking out for the most forgotten in American society, he struggled to mobilize a base or make any substantial dent in the polls.
After failing to qualify for the past several debates, Booker ended his campaign on January 13, citing fundraising struggles.
It’s with a full heart that I share this news—I’m suspending my campaign for president.
To my team, supporters, and everyone who gave me a shot—thank you. I am so proud of what we built, and I feel nothing but faith in what we can accomplish together. pic.twitter.com/Fxvc549vlJ
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 13, 2020
Dropped out: Motivational speaker, author, and friend of Oprah Winfrey Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson, a motivational speaker, New York Times best-selling author, and one-time congressional candidate with a substantial following announced her candidacy for president in January 2019.
Williamson, the 10th Democratic candidate to jump into the race, began speaking and writing self-help books rooted in New Age spirituality in Los Angeles in the 1980s. She’s also been heavily involved in AIDS awareness and advocacy efforts.
A 1992 appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show helped launch her into Hollywood’s elite class as the preferred spiritual guide for many in the entertainment world.
Her first foray in politics was an independent run for Congress in California’s 33rd congressional district in 2014. She ended up losing to current Rep. Ted Lieu, but is now launching a bid for the highest office in the land.
After failing to crack 1% in the polls for months and laying off all her campaign staff, Williamson finally dropped out of the race on January 10, 2020.
Dropped out: former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
Julian Castro declared his candidacy on January 12 in a widely publicized announcement event in San Antonio, Texas, his hometown and where he served as mayor for five years.
Castro’s official announcement came weeks after his brother had revealed the news during an interview with Stephen Colbert in December.
Under Castro’s tenure, HUD expanded lead safety protections in federally assisted housing, worked to reconstruct communities affected by natural disasters under a $US1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition, and fulfilled the Fair Housing Act.
After failing to gain traction in the race, failing to qualify for any debates, and running out of money, Castro dropped out of the presidential race on January 2, 2020.
It’s with profound gratitude to all of our supporters that I suspend my campaign for president today.
I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight. pic.twitter.com/jXQLJa3AdC
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) January 2, 2020
Dropped out: Senator Kamala Harris of California
Harris made her announcement on Martin Luther King Day, or January 21, via Twitter and her campaign website.
The Democratic senator for California is currently serving her first term in the Senate, similar to former President Barack Obama, who was initially criticised for his inexperience after he announced his 2008 presidential campaign as a first-term senator.
Prior to her role in the Senate, Harris was California’s attorney general and served as the district attorney of San Francisco.
While her campaign got off to a promising start, Harris was overshadowed by the other top candidates and dropped out of the race on December 3, 2019 amid reports of financial struggles and infighting among her campaign team.
Dropped out: Former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania
Sestak, a former two-term congressman from Pennsylvania and Navy admiral, became the 25th candidate to join the 2020 field on June 22, missing the deadline to qualify for the first Democratic debates.
After retiring from the House in 2010, Sestak unsuccessfully ran for US Senate in Pennsylvania both in 2010 and 2016, famously walking over 400 miles across Pennsylvania during his second Senate run.
In his announcement video, Sestak emphasised his 31 years of military service as an important qualification to serve as president, saying, “when faced with the decision on whether to use our military, our commander in chief will know how it will end before deciding if it is wise to begin.”
Dropped out: Governor Steve Bullock of Montana
Bullock, the Democratic governor of Montana, announced he’s running for a president on May 14th, the 22nd Democratic contender and the third governor to join the field.
In an announcement video posted online Tuesday morning, Bullock highlighted his work passing bipartisan legislation to ban corporate money in Montana’s elections as governor.
Bullock argues he brings unique strength to the table as a Democratic governor who was re-elected the same year Trump won his state by 20 points – and has since achieved progressive victories including expanding Medicaid and freezing university tuition in the spring 2019 Montana legislative session.
Dropped out: former South Carolina governor and Rep. Mark Sanford
Sanford announced on September 8, 2019 that he would launch a primary challenge to Trump, which marked the third challenge from within the president’s party.
The former congressman lost a primary in 2018 after emerging as a vocal critic of Trump, who in turn encouraged voters to vote against him.
In a “Fox News Sunday” interview announcing the challenge, Sanford said he thinks “we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican.”
“I think that as a Republican Party we have lost our way,” he added. After Stanford’s long-shot bid failed to gain any traction, he dropped out of the race on November 12.
Dropped out: Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas
Beto O’Rourke formally announced his candidacy for president on March 14, ending months of speculation over his presidential plans.
“The only way for us to live up to the promise of America is to give it our all and to give it for all of us,” he said in a video announcing his candidacy alongside his wife Amy.
“The interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy, and our climate have never been greater,” O’Rourke added. “And they will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America.”
The three-term congressman from El Paso broke fundraising records and became a national sensation in the fall of 2018 when he came within three points of defeating Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, a traditionally red state.
O’Rourke announced he was ending his campaign on November 1, after failing to break through the crowded field. In a Medium post, he cited that the campaign did “not have the means to move forward successfully.”
Dropped out: Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio
Ryan, who represents Ohio’s 13th congressional district in eastern Ohio, announced he’s running for president during an April 4 appearance on “The View.”
A moderate Democrat who has served in the House since 2003, Ryan is best known for his passionate advocacy on behalf of Midwesterners who have suffered from the decline in manufacturing jobs in the region.
On his campaign website, Ryan says that “failed leadership and broken promises have destroyed the middle-class, forcing our economy into crisis and pushing the American Dream out of reach.”
Ryan was also one of the key leaders of an unsuccessful effort spearheaded by moderate Democrats to block Nancy Pelosi from becoming Speaker of the House after Democrats took back control of the chamber in 2018.
After failing to gain any traction in the polls or qualify for the DNC fall Democratic debates, Ryan finally quit the race on October 24.
Dropped out: Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York City
De Blasio announced his presidential run on “Good Morning America” and with a video posted to social media.
De Blasio is best known for his ambitious progressive policy proposals aimed at reducing income inequality and increasing the amount of affordable housing in New York by taxing the city’s wealthiest residents.
His gruff and often blustery approach, however, has made him highly unpopular both among New Yorkers and the Democratic primary electorate.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in April found he has an underwater approval rating within his own city, and a Monmouth University poll released in March found that of 12 declared and potential Democratic presidential candidates, De Blasio was the only one to receive a negative favorability rating.
De Blasio dropped out of the race on September 20 after failing to qualify for the fall debates or gain any momentum in the polls.
Dropped out: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
Gillibrand began her political career as a moderate, blue-dog Democrat representing a conservative district in upstate New York.
She has made a name for herself as a strong progressive voice in the US Senate, in which she has served since 2009. Gillibrand has advocated for stronger policies around addressing sexual assault in the military, lowering healthcare costs, and decreasing economic and gender inequality.
Gillibrand ran a campaign centered around women’s empowerment with a focus on issues like paid family leave and reproductive rights, but failed to break out in the field or crack more than 1% to 2% in the polls.
She announced she would leave the race on August 28 after failing to qualify for the September primary debate.
Dropped out: Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts
Moulton, who has represented Massachusetts’ 6th congressional district since 2015, became the 19th Democrat to join the 2020 presidential field on April 22.
“I am running because I am a patriot, because I believe in this country and because I have never wanted to sit on the sidelines when it comes to serving it,” Moulton told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
Before running for Congress, Moulton served in the Marine Corps and completed four tours of duty in Iraq. A relatively moderate Democrat, he focused his presidential campaign on issues of foreign policy and national security.
Moulton dropped out of the race on August 23 to run for re-election in the House after he failed to qualify for any Democratic primary debates.
Dropped out: Washington Governor Jay Inslee
Inslee, who has served as governor of Washington since 2012, has held some form of public office for most of the past 30 years. The long-time lawmaker is billing himself as the “climate candidate.”
“I’m Jay Inslee and I’m running for president because I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number one priority,” Inslee said in a video released March 1.
While governor, Inslee has made reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy a top priority.
The video also shows Inslee in the aftermath of wildfires as he says in a voiceover: “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we’re the last that can do something about it.”
After participating in the first two debates and putting climate change on the agenda as a crucial campaign issue, Inslee announced he would drop out of the race on August 21.
Dropped out: former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper launched his 2020 presidential campaign on March 4, making the former Colorado governor the 14th Democratic candidate to enter the field.
Hickenlooper, 66, was highly popular as governor for two terms before being succeeded by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. Before that, he served as mayor of Denver (a nonpartisan position) and was a successful businessman who founded Colorado’s first brewery pub, helping bring jobs and economic development to Denver.
Hickenlooper struggled to stand out as a viable centrist candidate in the shadow of Biden, however and dropped out of the presidential race on August 15, 2019.
A week later on August 22, Hickenlooper jumped into Colorado’s US Senate race to challenge vulnerable GOP. Sen Cory Gardner in 2020.
Dropped out: former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel
Gravel, now 89, officially filed to run for president on April 2. His leftist, anti-war presidential campaign was originally a protest campaign with the goal of simply raising enough money for Gravel to qualify for the first Democratic debates, but he’s now running to win.
The Gravel campaign is running on a platform of anti-imperialist and leftist principles, and is being managed by three teenagers from New York, who are innovative-ly using Twitter to get out the former senator’s message.
After failing to make any of the debates, Gravel dropped out of the race and endorsed Sanders on August 6, 2019.
Dropped out: California Congressman Eric Swalwell
Swalwell, who has represented California’s 15th Congressional district since 2013, announced the launch of his presidential campaign on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on April 8.
The 18th Democrat to jump into the race, Swalwell ran a campaign largely focused on reducing gun violence in America and directly taking on the National Rifle Association, an organisation he sees as directly contributing to gun violence.
Swalwell currently serves on the high-profile House Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee and has been actively involved in those committees’ investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
On July 8, Swalwell dropped out of the 2020 presidential race to run for re-election in the House after failing to break through 1% in the polls and disappointing second-quarter fundraising performance.
Dropped out: West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda
Richard Ojeda, a member of the West Virginia Senate, announced he was running for the presidency on November 11, 2018. He ran for Congress in West Virginia’s third congressional district in 2018, losing to Republican Carol Miller.
However, on January 25, 2019, Ojeda dropped out of the presidential race after resigning from the State Senate.
Mariana Alfaro contributed to a previous version of this report.