Which Democratic Candidates Think They’re Going to be President?

The easiest observation to make this year is that there are a lot of people running in the Democratic presidential primary. So many, that you have to wonder how all of them think that they have a chance to win. And let’s be honest, no one not named Biden, Sanders, Harris, or Warren is gonna win. Obviously no journalist can say that, but I am no journalist. What I am is a great speculator. And I’m going to speculate which of the candidates besides the aforementioned four actually think they can win, and which ones know they have no shot.

I’ll be going in alphabetical order so I don’t have to write about Steve Bullock and Michael Bennet towards the end.

Michael Bennet (Senator, CO)


Does he think he can win?

Yes. Although it’s fading fast.

Why does he think that?

Based on his performance at the first Democratic debate, it’s clear he thinks that what the Democratic Party is clamoring for is not the extremely popular proposals of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Or at least he did think it. He seemed in genuine disbelief that the Democratic base could want something other than the ineffective, technocratic compromises of the last twenty years of Democratic politics. I think at some point he’ll realize that he is wrong, or at least that he is not the one to carry his message.

I’m sure he thought he could win at the beginning because he entered the race late, following treatment for prostate cancer, and only someone delusional enough to think they could win would do something like that.

Does he really have no chance?

No. Not only does Patriots defensive lineman Michael Bennett have a better chance, but honestly, retired, early-aughts Vikings running back Michael Bennett has the same odds.

Some other notes

No one has brought this up because he definitely isn’t going to win, but according to his Wikipedia, Michael Bennet was born in New Delhi, India, so it’s unclear whether he could actually become president. Also, his younger brother James is the editor of the Opinion section of the New York Times (so he fucking sucks), and he released the following statement when his big brother Michael announced:

and honestly, it’s cute that he thinks that anyone at the New York Times would be talking about Michael Bennet.

Bill de Blasio (Mayor, New York City)


Does he think he can win?

Lol no.

Then why is he running?

I mean, if you were as generally disliked by the people of your city as de Blasio, wouldn’t you try to find a reason to go other places? Also, have you ever experienced Bill de Blasio in any form or medium? His love of talking is only outpaced by his love of hearing himself talk.

And on a serious note, he has no upward mobility. He knows first-hand that the people of New York would never elect him governor or senator, so he might as well see how the rest of the country feels about him (besides, “Wow, he’s so tall.”). It raises his profile and allows stories of having an interracial family reach wider audiences.

Does he really have no chance?

No. I’ll let New York attorney general Letitia James explain why.

(I was actually in the audience for this, and it was a great deal of fun to shout in response.)

Cory Booker (Senator, New Jersey)


Does he think he can win?

Absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt.

Why does he think that?

Because people have been telling him he’d become president some day and he listened to them. I was first made aware of Booker when he was the mayor of Newark and did a Reddit AMA. And I was really impressed. So impressed that was one of the people who thought that Cory Booker would be president some day.

He fits the profile: relatively young, black, well-educated but in-touch with the working class, etc. He is one of the few on this list I don’t blame for being wrong.

Does really have no chance?

Like, it’s not impossible for him to win, but I don’t see it. The problem with being told while you’re a mayor of the 73rd largest city in the country that you’ll be president some day is that you haven’t actually amassed a track record that would convince people to vote for you. So you might have noticed that the furor over Cory Booker’s presidential future have died down since he’s actually had a national position.


He kind of sucks.

He has made a great effort this campaign to show that he isn’t in the pocket of big pharma and Wall Street, which is a surefire sign that he is very much in the pocket of big pharma and Wall Street. But perhaps more important than that is that he is soooooo lame. When Rosario Dawson started dating him, it was harder to believe than when she was dating a man who has intentionally peed himself on television more than once. Because he’s gotta be so insufferable to be around. Like, in a survey, he said his comfort food is “Veggies.”

The worst.

Steve Bullock (Governor, MT)


Does he think he can win?

Not anymore.

Then why is he running (and what changed)?

Steve Bullock is a popular Democratic governor in a deep-red state. That phrase, “popular Democratic governor in a deep-red state” is responsible for ruining dozens of pairs of pants among Democratic political advisors. I get why. You figure that if he can be a Democrat and appeal to non-Democrats, he should be able to do that across the country.

So it’s understandable that Steve Bullock bought into that formula. However, I have to imagine since he was the last person to be cut off from the TWENTY PERSON Democratic Debate that his message isn’t getting out there. And I can’t blame him for staying in for a little while longer because the last thing you want to admit after publicly complaining about being excluded from a debate is that they were right to keep you out.

Does he really have no chance?

Absolutely none. You know how I know? Because that photo up there is of Montana Senator Jon Tester, and not one of you noticed.

A plea

Run for Senate, you asshole.

Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend, IN)


Does he think he can win?

Of course. Do you know anything about Pete Buttigieg?

Why does he think that?

He was the Flavor of the Month for Democratic primary voters for a while after they were dazzled by his ability to speak languages few people speak and reference books few people have read. Why? The same reason why Aaron Sorkin’s liberal fantasy president is a Nobel Laureate Economics professor who frequently speaks Latin, quotes the Bible and Constitution from memory, and loves trivia about everything from National Parks to Notre Dame Football. Liberals have a tendency to fawn over “smart.” Pete Buttigieg is very “smart.” But being “smart” is never enough.

And don’t get me wrong, I get why people fell for it! The reason I was able to list all of those things about The West Wing’s Josiah Bartlett is because I am a big fan of the show (even if its brand of aspirational, work-across-the-aisle liberalism has aged like a Jack-o-Lantern in November). So when every college-educated white liberal from ages 25-to-45 thinks you’re the bee’s knees, you’re not crazy for thinking you’re going to become president.

Does he really have no chance?

He probably has the best chance of anyone on this list, but I don’t really like his odds. I cannot imagine him ever becoming more popular than he was that one week everyone fell over themselves for him. Especially because once you peel back literally any layer from his persona, you see that he’s been a fine mayor at best and a negligent one at worst. What’s more, the black vote is the bedrock of the Democratic Primary and not only is Buttigieg embroiled in a scandal over the shooting of an unarmed black man in his city, but the “economic resurgence” he’s given South Bend has largely neglected the black community, which makes up 27% of the city.

Much like the other Mayor in the race, Buttigieg is really only running because he can’t win in his own state. He lost a bid for governor, and his Senate chances are unlikely, as Indiana becomes redder and redder. Obviously you don’t want to necessarily create a requirement to hold a certain office before becoming president, but let’s all be honest with ourselves and admit that the mayor of the fourth-largest city in the state of Indiana should not be president.

Julián Castro (ex-HUD Secretary, Mayor of San Antonio)


Does he think he can win?

I don’t think so, but he definitely thinks he can be Vice President.

Why does he think that?

He was apparently on the shortlist for Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential selection in 2016, and look what happened when she took the most generic white guy in the world. And I’m not at all saying he would just be a “token” pick (although the Biden campaign would certainly look at it that way). He’s a genuinely skilled politician who has, in my opinion, the best views on immigration of everyone in the bunch. Also, he’s been a “rising star” in the Democratic Party since I remember ever hearing about rising stars in the Democratic Party.

And for all I know, he could actually think he’ll win the presidency, but I suspect he only thinks he should win the presidency, which sure, why not? He seems like a good guy.

Does he really have no chance?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development does important work, but the guy who had Castro’s job before him’s next position was the Director of the Office of Budget and Management, and then after that, his Wikipedia doesn’t say. Whether it should be the case or not, the Director of HUD doesn’t feel like the job you have before you become president. So, no, he has no chance.

Also, he has an identical twin named Joaquin (who is a Congressman from Texas), and identical twins generally unnerve people so that cannot help.

John Delaney (former Congressman, Maryland)


Does he think he can win?

Yes. He believes he can be president so much it would make your head spin.

Why does he think this?

Remember what I said about Michael Bennet being confused by the Democratic Party’s leftward push? John Delaney is likely confused by how to the left Michael Bennet is. He is a business man in-capital-letters, and he cannot wait to tell you that he thinks that the Democratic Party needs to work with businesses. And like every politician who adopts a pro-business, anti-progress-of-any-kind platform, he is convinced that in actuality, everyone agrees with him and not the politicians to his left, because the who the Democratic Party really identifies with is a man who founded a corporation called “CapitalSource.”

In reality, this is wishful thinking. In the same way that Republicans convinced themselves that the Tea Party was actually about high taxes and not a racist reaction to a black man occupying the White House, Delaney and a few others on this list refuse to believe that their vision of America, which coincidentally benefits them, is not the one that most people want.

But John Delaney won’t go down without a fight. Did you know that he was the first candidate to announce he was running? That’s right. Way back in July of 2017, this dude announced he was running for president. If you’re honestly willing to campaign for three years, you definitely think you can win. Which is nuts.

Does he really have no chance?

Do I have a chance to date Brie Larson? No. Absolutely not.

He said he started his campaign early because he needed to get name-recognition. Yet, the most common joke about him from the debates is that no one knew who he was. If you can’t make an impression with voters when you’re the only one running for a full year, you won’t make it now. He would be much happier if he was honest with himself, joined the Republican Party, and penned lazy op-eds about how Trump is debasing the country, but also college students are bad.

Tulsi Gabbard (Congresswoman, HI)


Does she think she can win?

I have no fucking idea. But probably.

Why does she think that?

My first instinct is to say that she knows she doesn’t have a chance and is just running to put her anti-imperalist (and pro-Assad?) views on the main-stage. But at the same time, the fact that she holds so many… idiosyncratic views leads me to believe she’s the type of person who would never run for an office she didn’t think she could win.

Not to mention, there are incredibly strange corners of the Internet that are completely behind Tulsi and seem to think that she can win. And strange corners of the Internet can warp people’s minds, and Tulsi seems like her mind is very open to warping, so let’s say yes.

Does she really have no chance?

Are you serious? No. For one, Cory Booker was spot-on when he said that her saying she changed her views on homosexuality is not enough. It’s not like someone dug up a few gay jokes she made when she was 15. While she was a grown adult, way back in the early-2000’s, she worked for a group that actively fought against gay marriage and supported conversion therapy. There are a lot of hot-button debates this primary season. LGBT issues are not one of them.

And I think that being anti-war is good. But Tulsi Gabbard is hardly anti-war. She just disagreed with mainstream Democrats on issues of foreign policy (often siding with Republicans). She’s top-Republican’s favorite Democrat, and that’s a bad thing to be if you want to win the Democratic Primary.

Also, we’re not going to have a President Tulsi.

Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator, NY)


Does she think she can win?

Sadly, yes. I think so.

Why does she think that?

Presumably because the moment Donald Trump entered the White House, it was immediately a given that she was gonna run. And I can’t blame her. A popular Senator with a great record on issues of sexual assault and a history of winning in Red areas? Sounds great. I’m not a political expert (duh), and so I’m probably wrong with this, but I always saw her and Kamala Harris occupying the space of “I’m not a socialist like Bernie or Liz, but I am certainly more progressive than Biden!” And that’s a perfectly valid space to occupy, as–much to the chagrin of my far-left self–a plurality of the Democratic electorate lies there.

Does she really have no chance?

Based on any and all polling, yeah. Much like the Highlander (a movie I only know through it being referenced in other movies), there can be only one (in this case, I mean person between Biden and Bernie/Liz). Kamala just seems like a generally better and more exciting politician than Gillibrand. I don’t have anything particularly bad to say about her, but I also don’t have anything particularly good to say about her. It made sense for her to run for president, but it never seemed like anyone was clamoring for her to.

And while I doubt there was anyone who was gonna vote for her and then decided not to when she asked Al Franken to resign, if they do exist, they can take a long walk off a short pier.

Some other notes

On that survey I referenced earlier in the Cory Booker bit, Gillibrand said that her comfort food was “Whiskey,” so she’d be doing really well if we based our primaries on “being a good hang.”

Mike Gravel (former Senator, AK)

Usa Abc Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate - Aug 2007

Does he think he can win?

No. And he’s made that clear from the beginning.

Then why is he running?

Because he wants to get his platform (primarily his anti-war, anti-surveillance, anti-imperialism views) onto a debate stage and into the discourse. His campaign and Twitter account are managed by two actual teenagers, and he doesn’t do traditional campaign events. This is by no means to disparage his campaign. His Twitter account is really popular, and I’m now familiar with a politician who hasn’t held any office since 1981.

Does he really have no chance?

Did you not read what I just wrote? He doesn’t want to win.

And while I fully support getting his views into the mainstream (because I largely agree with them), admitting from the start that you don’t actually want to win is what some people call “giving the game away.” Entering the presidential race to get your issues discussed is a tale as old as time. However, getting onto the debate stage requires you to have donors, and sure, there are people who are willing to donate just so you can advocate for your views, but most people want their money to go to someone who, you know, is going to use it to try to win.

John Hickenlooper (former Governor, Colorado)


Does he think he can win?

I would bet my life on it.

Why does he think that?

He is simply living in a different reality than most people. That has to be it. Because otherwise, there would be no logical reason for him to believe that he can work with Republicans to get things done, “Just like [he] did back in Colorado.” There is no one more deludedly confident than a guy who thinks he can “roll up his sleeves and get something done.”

I don’t know his record as governor of Colorado and mayor of Denver, and I don’t care to look it up (because he won’t be president), but as far as I can tell, he really wants me to know it. He is the classic “Like what I did in my state” guy. There is nothing that is impossible to him as long as it is a moderate compromise done at the state level.

Does he really have no chance?

What? Of course he doesn’t. His last name is HICKENLOOPER.

Also, and I’m really glad to say this, the Democratic base does not have time for someone with the gall to say the phrase “And we’ll work with oil and gas companies” out loud. It honestly seems like his primary motivation to get into the race is to save his buddies at oil and gas companies from the wrath of Climate Policy.

Plus, and this is obvious, no one knows who he is. It’s one thing to be an outsider, governor candidate when you have somewhat of a national profile, but I did not know that John Hickenlooper was governor of Colorado until after he stopped being governor of Colorado (which was in January of this year).

Jay Inslee (former Governor, WA)


Does he think he can win?


Why does he think that?

Because he thinks (admirably) that the United States needs a president whose primary, almost singular priority is solving Climate Change. He called himself the “Climate Change Candidate” from the beginning, and he has stuck to it. He is the candidate who has pledged to make Climate Change his top priority as president.

He was also someone who I had heard of possibly running for president back in 2017. He was super popular, and being the chief executive of a state, he is one of the few candidates who has actually done something about carbon emissions. He’s not crazy.

Does he really have no chance?

I wouldn’t say “no chance.” I could imagine if–God forbid–there was a devastating, Climate Change-caused catastrophe in the next few months, he could make a push. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen (him making a push… a Climate catastrophe is for sure gonna happen).

His problem, I think is that, like, there are other candidates who have a super expansive Climate Change policy. Hell, Elizabeth Warren is one of the biggest champions of the Green New Deal. I get what he means by pointing out that he’s the only one who has made it his “top priority,” but it’s hard to say that when no one knows your other priorities. Understandably, people care about shit other than climate change, and while I assume that Jay Inslee has standard progressive stances on those issues, I don’t know because I have never heard him talk about anything but climate change.

Also, when he speaks, his bottom lip dips off to the side in a weird way, and after I noticed it at the beginning of his debate, I can’t stop seeing it. And don’t worry, I checked his Wikipedia to make sure it wasn’t from a disease.

Amy Klobuchar (Senator, Minnesota)


Does she think she can win?

There is not a doubt in her mind.

Why does she think this?

First off, I don’t think she’s ever had a doubt about winning something in her life. Secondly, she’s won in the Midwest, and the Midwest is what gave Trump the White House, ergo she would beat him in the Midwest. The second bit is the only rational reason I can think of why she and anyone else would think that she could win. It seems like the exact thing that Democratic operatives who have not ventured outside of the Beltway in a decade eat up. I also imagine that she would throw something at any staffer who suggested she might not.

Does she really have no chance?

She’s polling too well for me to write her off completely, but no. It’s all well and good to have a history of winning in states that Democrats need to win in, but Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts and he got walloped there. And yeah, there are plenty of voters who are voting in the primary with the intention of picking the person best equipped to beat Trump, but they’re all backing Biden, not some Senator they have never really heard of.

Not to mention, she is an actual monster of a human being. The eating-salad-with-a-fork-thing is amusing, but the article it is in is surrounded by stories of her being the worst boss on the face of the planet. Sure, I suppose you don’t need to be a “nice person” to be president, but it’s not like that’s the one knock on her. She lies in the same spot as other candidates, where the only thing she knows for sure is that the expansive policies of Sanders and Warren go too far.

Wayne Messam (Mayor, Miramar, FL)


Does he think he can win?

What? Who?

So, I first heard of this guy about a month ago when I looked up an official list of Democratic Primary candidates. In the month since, I assumed I had hallucinated his existence since I have not heard anything about him since that moment. But apparently, he’s still running.

So does he think he can win? I don’t know! Logic would dictate he doesn’t, since no one has ever heard of him, but logic would also dictate that he should drop out of the race, since no one has ever heard of him.

Seth Moulton (Congressman, MA)


Does he think he can win?

Absolutely not, and he can go fuck off.

Then why is he running?

Because he is a conservative Democrat who is worried his party might start actually helping people. I first heard of him a few years ago because he was a troop™ who won as a Democrat, and then hadn’t heard of him again until after the 2018 midterms when he lead an attempt to oust Nancy Pelosi from her Speaker position. I thought getting Pelosi out was a great idea. She’s old and out-of-touch with the direction the party was moving. So it was to my great surprise that Moulton and his “Third Way” (if you don’t know, don’t ask) compatriots were trying to replace Pelosi with someone more conservative.

Did they actually think they were going to get Pelosi out? Of course not. They just wanted to piss themselves about how mad they are that their party isn’t entirely filled with Republicans-lite.

Does he really have no chance?

I mean, he didn’t make the debate, and he doesn’t want to win. But he does have an almost guaranteed chance of winning re-election in his district, which is solidly blue and has no justifiable reason for electing a diet-Republican, so should someone try to primary him, I’d recommend donating.

Beto O’Rourke (former Congressman, TX)


Does he think he’s going to win?

Not anymore, and I think we saw him realize it on the debate stage.

Then why is he running?

On October, 18th, 2009, when the New England Patriots entered halftime leading the Tennessee Titans by 45 points, why did the Titans bother coming back out for the second half? Because they were too proud not to (and because the rules require it). Beto can’t admit defeat so soon after that magazine cover that has aged as well as the Dwight Howard-Steve Nash “This is Gonna Be Fun” cover of Sports Illustrated. 

And what is he to do if he drops out? He’s no longer a Congressman, and in most settings, standing on top of countertops is frowned upon.

Still, while I don’t like his politics that much and I quickly grew tired of him, you have to understand why he ran in the first place.

You can’t say no to Coach Kerr.

Does he really have no chance?

Like Klobuchar, he is polling to well for me to say that, but I really doubt it. Perhaps moreso than Mayor Pete, I struggle to imagine something Beto could do that would put him above his popularity levels that he had when he first entered the race.

Why did he fall? Presumably a combination of fatigue, people liking the other candidates, and oh yeah, that he is a lot more conservative than people realize. It’s super easy to seem like the cool liberal when you’re running against Ted Cruz. No one bothers to look at how much money you’re taking from the oil industry because obviously Cruz is taking more. And while his viral speech moments were often genuinely good, and I seriously don’t doubt that he’s a good person, he’s in over his head. You could tell by his face that he knows it. I don’t think he was born to be in it.

Tim Ryan (Congressman, OH)


Does he think he’s going to win?

Deep down, he knows he won’t.

Then why is he running?

I get it. He sees the Democratic Party as being run by coastal elites who don’t care about workers in the Rust Belt–his Rust Belt. He wants to give a voice to all the factory workers he’s met that lost their jobs. He’s in it to make sure that the voters think about the most fawned over and over-reported-on, and fetishized people in America: white guys in the Midwest.

Does he really have no chance?


A lot of people in the Democratic debates didn’t look like they belonged, but Tim Ryan was the only one who looked like he was in the middle of a bad dream where he came to consciousness on the debate stage, having not prepared anything.

And also, I don’t quite know what his positions are. Based on his general demeanor and emphasis on anecdotes about blue collar workers in moderately sized cities and towns in Ohio, I assume he’s a conservative Democrat, but it really is unclear what he’s there to do but to remind people that in fact, Ohio is a real place with real people, and not just somewhere LeBron is from.

Joe Sestak (former Congressman, PA)


Does he think he can win?

Who cares? But I doubt it.

Then why is he running?

He joined the race on June 22nd. Of this year. I have no goddamn clue why he’s running, because I basically have no clue who he is. I guess he thinks he could win? But why? He has lost his last two elections: one in a Senate general election and one in a primary. But what is the thing that he thinks he brings that other candidates don’t? Beats me.

Does he really have no chance?

I would honestly be shocked if he polls within the margin-of-error of any national poll. Who the hell is this guy to see a field with 20+ candidates and honestly think, “What this needs is Joe Sestak?”

Man, some of these people suck.

Tom Steyer (billionaire)

Tom Steyer

Does he think he can win?

Yeah. Of course he does.

Why does he think that?

Because he’s a billionaire and presumably not a single person has said the word “no” to him in the 21st century. I first came to know Tom Steyer when he funded ads calling for Trump’s impeachment about a year-and-a-half ago. I was glad he was on the right side of the issue, but it seemed super selfish to spend millions of dollars on an ad of you talking instead of donating to Democratic candidates that could actually, you know, impeach him.

After he was done with that, I thought I was done with him. In January, he said he wasn’t going to run for president. And then, I guess he noticed Howard Schultz wasn’t around and thought his shoes needed to be filled.

He’s self-funding his own campaign, so he will almost certainly be able to outspend his fellow candidates. And he would never admit it, but he definitely thinks that Donald Trump winning means that billionaires can pay their way to the White House.

Does he really have no chance?

Donald Trump won, and I can’t underestimate Americans’ want to suck up to billionaires but I really, really doubt it. For all the speculation about billionaires running, I’ve almost exclusively seen a rejection from Democrats across the board that we need “our Trump.”

And he just joined the race, and he really, really has no constituency. Like, I can’t imagine why he thinks he would poll better than Howard Schultz, who, lest we forget, was the one thing both parties agreed on for a while (that he sucked).

I cannot emphasize it enough: Tom Steyer, retire bitch.

Marianne Williamson (author, lunatic)


Does she think she can win?

She doesn’t think she can win: the stars do.

Why does she think this?

What did I just say? This is out of her hands.

Does she really have no chance?

A lot of people who want to sound smart but are actually stupid scolded Democrats on Twitter for laughing at Marianne Williamson because Republicans laughed at Trump, too, and then he won.

The difference, of course, being that Trump was leading in the polls for almost all of the race, and Williamson barely made it onto the debate stage and has the support of like six people, four of whom are either on Big Little Lies or served as inspiration for characters on Big Little Lies. The only other people who want her to run are the writers at SNL who don’t want to actually put thought into their political sketches.

Andrew Yang (tech billionaire)


Does he think he can win?

Sure, but it’s cool if not.

Why does he think that?

I suspect its because tech guys have to have a delusional belief of what they’re able to do. This belief, of course, will be the end of us should we solve climate change, but for Yang, it likely serves as his inspiration for putting his name out there.

He also has the policy of creating a Universal Basic Income for all Americans which is a bold, extremely progressive idea that I quite like.

Does he really have no chance?

He doesn’t have zero chance, but he doesn’t have much. Two of the groups that the Democratic base is most angry with at the moment are tech guys and billionaires, so Yang is kinda screwed. Also, while I have no indication that he himself as any of these beliefs, his supporters on the Internet are crazy racist and reactionary. I don’t know what to do with that, but it doesn’t make me feel good.


Finally. That’s all of them. Should one of these candidates end up winning, and I get egg on my face, I will upload a video of me throwing an entire carton of eggs at my face.

If you take issue with any of my assessments, that’s perfectly fine. I guarantee I didn’t put a lot of thought into it.

Which Democratic Candidates Think They’re Going to be President?

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