New polling indicates that a majority of Democratic voters want someone entirely new to become their standard bearer for the 2020 presidential race. Among the potential candidates who are already established on the national stage, the early-frontrunner is not even a registered Democrat: independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
On March 21, a Harvard-Harris Poll survey found that 20 percent of Democrats wanted Sanders to the Democratic nominee for the 2020 race. Former first lady Michelle Obama came in second with 17 percent, followed by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 15 percent, The Hill reports.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential race, clocked in at fourth with 10 percent, with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tying for fifth place, with four percent each.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey came in sixth with three percent, with billionaire Mark Cuban garnering two percent.
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While Sanders topped the list of visible contenders, the majority of Democratic respondents opted for someone new, with 25 percent saying that they wanted a contender who was not on the poll's list.
The desire to have an entirely new face for the party could be because the majority of Democrats believe that they do not currently have a unifying leader.
35 percent of Democratic respondents said that their party does not have a leader. 16 percent believe the Democrats' leader is former President Barack Obama, while an equal amount picked Warren. 14 percent believe Sanders is the figurehead of the party, while eight percent cited Clinton.
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard-Harris Poll, believes that these findings will translate into a Democratic primary with a large number of contenders similar to the large field of GOP hopefuls in the 2016 race.
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"There is a vacuum now in the Democratic Party in terms of leadership and a 2020 candidate, so it's the Democrats who might have a raft of candidates next time, especially if the voters are searching for someone new," Penn said.
Democratic strategist Erik Smith believes that Clinton's unlikelihood to enter the presidential 2020 race will prompt many members of the party to throw their hats into the political ring.
"There are so many candidates who have held back over the last 10 years," Smith told Politico. "A lot of them didn't get into the race because Hillary Clinton was running in 2007, and then a lot stayed out in 2016 because she ran again, so you have a whole generation that's been waiting in the wings for years."
The field of Democratic contenders could begin to take shape at the upcoming Ideas Conference, an event organized by the Center for American Progress. Modeled after the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual event that has previously helped bolster the profile of Republican candidates, the new conference could provide the opportunity for a lower-profile Democrat to gain national attention.