Many potential presidential candidates have been on the rise as the 2020 election cycle heats up. The following is a list of those who are challengers to Trump in the upcoming election, from the least threatening to those who pose a serious danger to Trump’s second term.


17. John Delaney

DROPPED OUT: A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland, Delaney announced his bid for the presidency on July 28, 2017, making him the first Democrat to officially announce their intention of running in 2020. He has been frequently referred to as a moderate, although he concedes that he does not fit into a specific political identity and that he spans from a completely progressive, liberal end of the spectrum to a more moderate “solutions-oriented” one. Although Delaney launched his campaign at such an early date in order to gain name recognition, he is one who will soon drop from the radar (if he was ever on it to begin with) and does not pose a threat to other candidates.

16. Beto O'Rourke

DROPPED OUT: Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke lost his bid to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in 2018 and has since been on the hunt for the same level of attention he received for nearly defeating Cruz. He has a very meandering strategy, lacking a truly coherent policy vision or proposition—other than his recent social media stardom—that would justify entering a race teeming with many talented candidates. O’Rourke earned a moment of notability during a Democratic debate in September when he voiced his views on gun control (the only issue he has paved a clear view on) when he blurted “Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47!” but is otherwise a throw-away candidate.

15. Steve Bullock

DROPPED OUT: Stephen Bullock is a politician, attorney and former professor, currently serving as the 24th Governor of Montana since 2013. Bullock has been described by The Washington Post and ABC News as a moderate Democrat. He is pro-choice, believes humans are a major contributor to climate change and has very recently altered his positions on gun control to support universal background checks, limits on magazine sizes, temporary removal of firearms from potentially violent people (red flag laws) and banning certain types of semiautomatic weapons. Bullock endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election but expressed disagreement with Clinton's opposition to coal mining because it is an important industry in Montana. He is not a serious threat in the upcoming election.

14. Mark Sanford

Sanford is a Republican running against Trump in 2020. He is a former governor of South Carolina and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. As early as January 2008, there had been anticipation that Sanford would run for President in 2012, but in January of 2010, Sanford stated: “If there's anything that's abundantly clear, it's that I ain't running for president.” Sanford supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election but has since been a critic of him during the Trump presidency. He has publicly expressed interest in running as an opponent to Trump since this July, citing “his alarm over the nation's finances” as a reason for doing so. He subsequently declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination on Fox News last month but remains a minimal threat to Trump at the moment.

13. Julian Castro

Castro, a 45-year-old former housing secretary under Obama, is emphasizing immigration and education in his presidential campaign. He has drawn on his family’s background (having a grandmother who was an immigrant from Mexico) and his political experience in a border state as a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. His immigration plan was one of the earliest and most detailed in the Democratic field but is also quite liberal in that it asks for an open border policy, which will make it very difficult for him to win over moderate voters. As mayor of San Antonio, he also created a public, free or low-cost pre-K program, which he wants to replicate at the national level. Castro was also a strong candidate in Hillary Clinton’s search for a running mate in 2016 but ultimately did not make the cut.

12. Bill Weld

William Weld is an attorney, businessman and Republican politician who served as the 68th Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. In 2016, he left the Republican Party to become the Libertarian Party running mate of former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Together they received nearly 4.5 million votes, the highest amount for a Libertarian ticket, and the best for any third-party ticket since 1996.

Weld announced in April 2019 that he would be returning to the Republican Party to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries. He has recently made it clear that he is not in support of Trump, stating that Trump has “show(n) contempt for the American people,” and that he would vote for Biden “in a heartbeat” rather than support Trump. Although he is very unlikely to be a serious opponent, Weld has faith that he could beat Trump in 2020 with help from independent voters.

11. Kamala Harris

DROPPED OUT: Harris became California's third female U.S. Senator and the first of either Jamaican or Indian ancestry when she defeated Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 Senate election in November 2016. Since becoming a Senator, she has supported single-payer healthcare, the DREAM Act, a ban on assault rifles, sanctuary cities and lowering the tax burden for the working and middle classes while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest one percent of Americans. Harris's support rose by between 6 to 9 points in polls following the first Democratic presidential debate in 2019. But in the second debate, Harris was confronted by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard over her past positions on marijuana, cash bail and parole reform and Harris has fallen in the polls since the encounter. She has pitched herself as a history-making candidate who can appeal to both progressives and moderates, but she has been criticized for being insincere, making it difficult for her to gain enough favor to take down Trump.

10. Tom Steyer

Billionaire, hedge fund manager, businessman, environmentalist, liberal activist, philanthropist and fundraiser Tom Steyer claims that he can rescue America by getting money out of politics and denouncing what he deems the “corporate stranglehold on democracy.” The progressive-minded candidate says his top priorities are breaking the influence of corporations and addressing climate change. He also desires to enact term limits in Congress, decriminalize illegal border crossings and expand the Supreme Court. Steyer has spent millions of dollars pushing for the impeachment of President Trump, airing television ads and building a grassroots online network. Now, after considering running for California governor and senator, he is promising to spend $100 million or more of his own money on a presidential bid.

9. Marianne Williamson

One of the least politically-experienced on this list, Williamson is best known as an author but is also an involved spiritual leader and activist. She is the co-founder of the Peace Alliance, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization supporting domestic and international peace-building projects. She is also the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery program that serves home-bound people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. In 2014, Williamson unsuccessfully ran as an independent to represent California's 33rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.

On January 29, 2019, she announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and has received a surprising amount of interest from Americans tuning into the primary debates this summer. She spoke for a total of four minutes and 58 seconds in her first debate, placing her 17th in speaking time out of the 20 candidates, but the LA Times wrote that Democratic voters were “confused” and “transfixed” by Williamson. In the second primary debate, she placed 19th in speaking time, yet was the most Googled candidate in 49 of 50 states and received the fourth-most attention on Twitter. It is undeniable that she certainly has people intrigued, which is a major ball in her court.

8. Cory Booker

Booker is a U.S. Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic party. In February when Booker announced his campaign, every Democratic member of the House of Representatives from New Jersey endorsed him. Central to his campaign is combating inequality and Booker has pitched himself as a healer. One of his most unique and notable endeavors is his “baby bonds” proposal, which would attempt to close the racial wealth gap by providing every American child a $1,000 savings account at birth. The government would contribute additional money each year on a tiered basis, depending on family income. The account would be turned over to the child at age 18, but could only be used for education, investing in a business or buying a home. Booker is a perceptive peacemaker, perhaps making it difficult for him to battle Trump’s “fighting dirty” strategy in debates and policy.

7. Joe Biden

Biden, who served for decades in the Senate, has the luck of his name being well-known in the political sphere. Voters will recognize him as Obama’s vice president—a major advantage—but he will likely continue to have a hard time out-performing his competition in debates, especially if he is placed next to Trump on the debate stage.

He was alongside former President Obama during the passage of the Affordable Care Act and health care remains one of his major passions in his plan for a greater America. Biden also speaks passionately about asserting and defending America’s role as a leader on the global stage and firmly believes in the value of bipartisanship.

6. Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar is a lawyer and politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Minnesota. She has become a standout as a strong female candidate in the upcoming presidential race. Both The New York Times and The New Yorker named Klobuchar as one of the women most likely to become the first female President of the United States, and both MSNBC and The New Yorker named her as a possible nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Klobuchar's political positions have generally been in line with modern American liberalism; she is pro-choice, supports LGBT rights and Obamacare, and was critical of the Iraq War. She will likely be very popular among centrist voters.

5. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, one of the front runners in the 2016 election who kindled much excitement among voters—especially young voters—is a legitimate threat to Trump. A self-described democratic socialist and progressive, Sanders is known for his opposition to economic inequality and has supported universal and single-payer healthcare, tuition-free tertiary education and an ambitious Green New Deal to create jobs addressing global warming. Sanders has an expansive and strong resume and is viewed as a very genuine and trustworthy candidate. He is currently locked in a tie with Elizabeth Warren for second place popularity behind Joe Biden in the Democratic polls.