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Poll: there is no 2020 Democratic frontrunner

A majority of Democrats don’t have a favorite candidate for 2020 yet.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) at a Vanity Fair event in 2014. Both are running for president in 2020.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) at a Vanity Fair event in 2014. Both are running for president in 2020.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

The candidate leading the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign is, well, nobody.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday found that 56 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, when asked whom they would support for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, didn’t offer up any name at all. In other words, the field right now appears to be pretty wide open.

Of already declared or potential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is still weighing whether to make a run, led the field, with 9 percent of respondents saying they would back him, followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris with 8 percent. Harris announced her bid on January 21 and officially kicked off her campaign over the weekend with a rally in Oakland.

Four percent of Democrats said they would back Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 3 percent said former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and 2 percent prefer Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former first lady Michelle Obama. Sanders and O’Rourke have yet to declare their candidacies, while Warren announced her bid in December. Obama has said she won’t run for president.

One percent of respondents named other figures — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-CA), House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Hillary Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey. A bit perplexingly, 4 percent of respondents said they would support President Donald Trump in the Democratic caucus or primary, which he won’t be a part of.

The takeaway here: Democrats really still aren’t sure whom they want to be the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, which is fine because there’s still a lot of campaigning to be done (as in, most of it). The first of 12 debates hosted by the Democratic National Committee will be held in June 2019, and the Iowa caucuses are still a year away. Vox’s Dylan Scott has a complete explainer on what’s going on in the 2020 race and the timeline.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll also shows that Democrats don’t yet have a unified idea of what they’re looking for in a candidate, either. Forty-seven percent of respondents said it was most important for the party to nominate a candidate whose positions on the issues closely mirror their own, while 43 percent said that what matters most is choosing someone who can beat Trump. As the Post notes, Democratic women and liberal Democrats were likelier to say it matters more to beat Trump than Democratic men and moderate and conservative Democrats.

And Dems are pretty split on which issue matters most: 31 percent of respondents said improving the health care system, 21 percent said reducing economic inequality, 18 percent reducing discrimination, and 15 percent global warming.

The poll was conducted from January 21 to 24 among a random sample of 1,001 adults.

Voters aren’t super into Trump, either

While voters aren’t sure which Democrat they want to see as the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, many of them are pretty clear that they’re not interested in Trump, either.

According to the Washington Post/ABC News poll, 56 percent of Americans would “definitely not vote for” Trump should he run for reelection in 2020, while 14 percent say they would consider it, and 28 percent say they would definitely support him. Fifty-nine percent of independents and 64 percent of women say they are definitely a no on Trump. And while most Republicans would prefer Trump be the party’s nominee in 2020, a significant percentage does not — 32 percent said they’d rather see someone other than Trump.

This isn’t the first poll in recent weeks to show things aren’t going great for the president in terms of public sentiment. Fifty-seven percent of respondents to an NPR/PBS/Marist poll released earlier this month said they would definitely vote against Trump in 2020. A pair of polls conducted during the partial government shutdown found Trump’s disapproval rating reaching all-time highs.

To be sure, Trump’s poll numbers could very well bounce back — he appears to have been hurt by the partial government shutdown, but how much that will matter in the long run is unclear.