All those patterns will be broken in 2020. And that means the traditional calculus about who gets which voter groups is out the window.
Some of these changes could directly affect candidates’ thinking about the primary map. The heavily African-American Democratic electorate in South Carolina, for example, tends to favor black candidates and those with strong ties to the black community. But this time around, there will likely be at least two black candidates, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and others with a long history of support from black voters.
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, the conventional wisdom is that local New England candidates have the edge. But this cycle, there could be several who come from neighboring states, such as Elizabeth Warren, who launched an exploratory committee on Monday, and Bernie Sanders.
And at the same time California is moving up in the primary calendar, this race could have four Californians—Harris, Steyer, Eric Garcetti, and Eric Swalwell—and others with strong support in the state, such as Sanders and Joe Biden.
If no one can count on locking down any particular group or place, it could mean just about everything is up for grabs.
For the moment, Democrats in Congress have tamped down talk of impeaching Trump. For the moment.
The 2020 election will be the first ever where the candidates running against the sitting president will be campaigning on his need to be removed from office by Congress. Bill Clinton’s impeachment loomed over the 2000 election, but he wasn’t on the ballot. And Richard Nixon was well into his second term before Watergate really caught up with him.
Democratic activists will demand to know where the 2020 candidates stand on impeachment questions, and there likely won’t be much room for anything but absolutism. Revelations from Mueller’s Russia investigation are likely to keep coming—including indictments, pleas, and sentencing deals—and the new House Democratic majority is planning multiple new lines of inquiry. If the past two years are a guide, the Democratic candidates’ responses to the latest Trump scandals will get much more attention than any policy rollouts they might prepare.
And that’s not to mention an impeachment trial itself: Any House members who are running for president would be in a position to vote on sending impeachment articles to the Senate, and any senators running would be in a position to vote on whether to keep their Republican opponent in office.
Grappling with Obama
Perhaps nothing has been better for Barack Obama’s popularity than Donald Trump. Yet nothing has been worse for Barack Obama’s legacy than Donald Trump.
As they look ahead, will Democrats want a restoration of the last president’s policies, or a restart?
Obama has met with many of the candidates who are looking to get into the race, giving them advice and encouragement. But he won’t endorse in the primaries, and will likely avoid any moves that could look like he’s putting his thumb on the scale—all his quiet maneuvering for Hillary Clinton in 2016, after all, didn’t end up with her in the Oval Office.