The presidential nominees will be chosen through a series of primaries and caucuses in every state and territory that began in Iowa on February 3 and ends in Puerto Rico in early June.
Short of a big shock, the Republican nominee will be Donald Trump. Even though technically he has two challengers, he is so popular among Republicans, he has a clear run ahead of him. With that in mind, the Democratic primaries are the only ones worth watching.
Step one: The start line
A whole year before the primaries, the first candidates emerged from hibernation. Over the year, others woke up and eventually 28 people announced they were running to become the Democratic nominee for president.
But dwindling funds, luke-warm or (ice-cold) public reaction and campaign infighting have, to varying degrees, led to 16 candidates pulling out of the race.
At the start of primary season, 11 people remained in the running. In theory, any one of them could become the nominee. In reality, only a few have a chance.
Step two: The Iowa caucuses
The first event of the primary season isn’t a primary at all – it’s a series of caucuses, in Iowa. These took place on February 3, in somewhat chaotic fashion.
What are caucuses?
A caucus involves people attending a meeting – maybe for a few hours – before they vote on their preferred candidate, perhaps via a head count or a show of hands. Those meetings might be in just a few select locations – you can’t just turn up at a polling station.
If any candidate gets under 15% of the vote in any caucus, their supporters then get to pick a second choice from among the candidates who did get more than 15%, or they can just choose to sit out the second vote.
Why Iowa caucuses matter?
A win there for any candidate can help give them momentum and propel them to victory in the primaries.
Why is Iowa first in the primary calendar? You can blame Jimmy Carter, sort of. Iowa became first in 1972, for various technical electoral reasons too boring to go into here. But when Carter ran for president in 1976, his team realized they could grab the momentum by campaigning early in Iowa. He won there, then surprisingly won the presidency, and Iowa’s fate was sealed.
Why Iowa caucuses don’t matter?
Iowa doesn’t represent the entire US – it’s largely white, so the way people vote there is very, very different than in other states.
The sate’s record on picking the eventual nominees is a bit rubbish too, at least when it comes to Republicans – when there’s an open Republican race, Iowa hasn’t opted for the eventual nominee since 2000. Such names as Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz have won there in recent years.
Step three: The New Hampshire primary
Eight days after Iowa on February 11, is the first primary, in New Hampshire. The tiny north-eastern state of only 1.3 million people will once again become an unlikely hotbed of political activity.
What is a primary?
Unlike a caucus, where voters are expected to turn up at a few limited locations at certain times and stick around for a while, primary voters can just turn up at a polling booth and vote in secret. Then leave.
How does a primary work?
The more votes a candidate gets in a caucus or primary, the more “delegates” they are awarded, and all candidates will be hoping to win an unbeatable majority of delegates.
The number of delegates differs in each state, and is decided by a convoluted series of criteria. In California’s primary, for example, there are 415 Democratic delegates up for grabs this year. In New Hampshire, there are only 24.
This year is a bit different. Any candidate would need to get at least 15% of the vote in any primary or caucus to be awarded delegates. There are still 11 candidates in the running – an unusually large number – so there’s a risk the vote share will be spread out and some of the candidates may struggle to reach 15%.
After New Hampshire, we could get a clear picture of who is struggling, but whoever has claimed the most delegates at this stage is still far from guaranteed to be the nominee.
Even those who are struggling may not drop out right after New Hampshire, because there is so much at stake on…
Step four: Super Tuesday
A few other states vote in between New Hampshire and the end of February, but this is when things really start to warm up: Super Tuesday, on March 3.
What is Super Tuesday?
It is the big date in the primary calendar, when 16 states, territories or groups vote for their preferred candidate in primaries or caucuses. A third of all the delegates available in the entire primary season are up for grabs on Super Tuesday. By the end of the day it could be much clearer who the Democratic candidate will be. The two states with the most delegates are voting on Super Tuesday – California (with 415 Democratic delegates) and Texas (228). California is voting three months earlier than in 2016, making Super Tuesday even more super than normal.
California and Texas are two states with very diverse populations, so we may see them going for very different candidates than those chosen in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Step five: The rest of the race
After hectic Super Tuesday, everyone gets to cool down for a week, before another busy day on March 10, when six states vote, with 352 delegates available.
After that, the primary season still has three months left to run, and at the end, the role of those delegates will become clear…
Step six: The conventions
Donald Trump will almost certainly be sworn in as the Republican nominee at the party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, between August 24 and 27. The Democrats will confirm their candidate at their own convention between July 13 and 16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
What happens in a convention?
Here’s where those delegates come in.
Let’s say that during primary season, candidate A wins 10 delegates. During the convention, those 10 delegates would vote for candidate A to become the Democratic nominee. (Any party member can apply to be a delegate – they tend to be party activists or local political leaders.)
All through the Democratic primaries, there are 3,979 delegates available. If any one candidate wins more than 50% of those delegates during primary season (that’s 1,990 delegates), then they become the nominee in a vote at the convention.
But if we get to the Democratic convention and no-one has more than 50% of the delegates, it becomes what’s known as a “contested” or “brokered” convention. This could well happen this year. There are so many candidates that no one frontrunner emerges in the primaries, and they split the delegates between them. In that circumstance, a second vote would follow.
In that second vote, all the 3,979 delegates would vote again, except this time they would be joined by an estimated 771 “superdelegates”. These are senior party officials past and present (former president Bill Clinton is one, as is current Vermont senator and presidential contender Bernie Sanders), and they’re free to vote for whomever they wish.
If a candidate wins 50% or more in that vote – 2,376 delegates – then they become the nominee.
This is all thanks to a rule change in 2020: last time around, the superdelegates voted at the start of the convention, with the delegates. But many had pledged their support to Hillary Clinton even before the convention, leading her rival Bernie Sanders to suggest the deck was stacked against him.
Bernie Sanders is the one who campaigned for the change – and it may benefit him in 2020.
Step seven: The presidency
After inching past Iowa, negotiated New Hampshire, survived Super Tuesday and come through the convention, there is only one step left for the nominee: the presidential election, on November 3.
Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are taking the lead in the Iowa caucuses, the first vote to choose the Democratic candidate to run against President Donald Trump in November’s election.
The vote has been chaotic, beset by technical problems and delays in reporting results.
According to Iowa’s Democratic Party, data from 71% of precincts showed Pete Buttigieg on 26.8%, with Bernie Sanders on 25.2%.
Elizabeth Warren was third on 18.4% and Joe Biden fourth on 15.4%.
According to the other preliminary results released on February 4 from all of Iowa’s 99 counties, Amy Klobuchar was on 12.6%, and Andrew Yang on 1%. Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard were on less than 1%.
However, the state party has still not declared a winner from February 3 vote. Democrats have blamed the delay on a coding error with an app being used for the first time to report the votes.
Iowa was the first contest in a string of nationwide state-by-state votes, known as primaries and caucuses, that will culminate in the crowning of a Democratic nominee at the party convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July.
Eleven candidates remain in a Democratic field that has already been whittled down from more than two dozen.
The results represent the share of delegates needed to clinch the party nomination under America’s quirky political system. Iowa awards only 41 of the 1,991 delegates required to become the Democratic White House nominee.
Many have spent the past few weeks vigorously campaigning in Iowa, which is always the first to vote. The primaries contest goes on until early June, and moves on to New Hampshire next Tuesday.
Polls suggest that Bernie Sanders has risen to be the favorite in Iowa.
He is one of four senators running for president who have had to stay behind in Washington to attend President Trump’s impeachment trial, but his supporters, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a well-known congresswoman, have been energetically campaigning on his behalf in Iowa.
Four years after losing out to Hillary Clinton, the 78-year-old is now backed by a huge pot of donations and a team of hundreds.
Some of the other big names including Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg will be hoping Bernie Sanders doesn’t have it all his own way in Iowa.
There are also Republican caucuses on February 3, and two people are running against Donald Trump, but the president’s popularity within his own party is such that his nomination is all but a formality.
Iowa, to some extent, provides a glimpse of what went wrong for Democrats in 2016.
In the last election, more than 200 counties flipped from supporting President Barack Obama in 2012 to backing Donald Trump – and 31 of those counties were in Iowa.
Democrats will be hoping to lure back those swing voters in 2020.
Howard County in northern Iowa flipped by 41 percentage points in 2016, the largest change in the US.
Presidential hopefuls seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to fight President Donald Trump’s re-election bid in 2020 have gathered for the Polka County Steak Fry in Iowa.
The event comes less than five months ahead of Iowa’s caucuses – the first to take place nationwide in each presidential election.
Event organizers said more than 12,000 people attended the fundraiser.
Of the 19 Democrats left in the running, 17 spoke on September 21.
The attendees showed up for burgers and face time with 17 Democratic presidential candidates at the Polk County Democratic Party’s annual steak fry in Iowa on Saturday. Although 18 candidates were initially expected to attend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out of the presidential race on September 20.
Former South Carolina Mark Sanford has become the latest Republican to challenge President Donald Trump in the GOP’s primary contest.
Mark Sanford, a long-time Trump critic, said in an interview announcing his candidacy: “I’m here to tell you now that I am going to get in.”
The former governor is the third person to challenge Donald Trump for the nomination.
However, it is seen as near impossible that anyone will take the Republican mantle from the president. No sitting president in the modern era has lost the race to be nominee for their own party, and Donald Trump remains very popular with Republicans.
The Republican National Convention, at which the nominee will be formally chosen, will take place in late August 2020 after a series of state primary elections and party caucuses.
However, some state Republican parties, including in South Carolina, have decided not to hold primaries in 2020 – to clear the path for Donald Trump and save money.
Mark Sanford, 59, is expected to centre his campaign on cutting government debt and spending.
He told Fox News on September 8: “I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican. I think that as a Republican party we have lost our way.
“We have lost our way on debts and deficits and spending… The president has called himself the king of debt, has a familiarity and comfort level with debt that I think is ultimately leading us in the wrong direction.”
In April, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld became the first person to challenge Donald Trump.
Bill Weld was followed by conservative radio host and former lawmaker Joe Walsh at the end of August.
Mark Sanford first served in Congress in 1995, representing South Carolina’s first congressional district. He later served as the state’s governor for two terms from 2003-2011. He then returned to the House in 2013.
The former governor criticized Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election but ultimately supported him. However, Mark Sanford would become one of his toughest Republican critics in Congress when President Trump took office.
That stance cost Mark Sanford the Republican primary when his seat was up for re-election last year. He was beaten by a pro-Trump challenger who went on to lose the election to her Democrat opponent.
Mark Sanford is known as a fiscal conservative and has been attacked by President Trump over an extra-marital affair that tainted his second term as governor.
He went missing for several days, with his staff telling reporters he had gone to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Mark Sanford later admitted he had instead gone to Argentina to see his mistress.
Election Day is still more than a year away but the race to become the Democratic challenger to President Trump is already well under way.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have thrown their hats into the ring, but most of the other candidates are relatively unknown outside the Washington DC bubble.
During his roughly 80-minute speech, President Trump reiterated key themes of his winning 2016 campaign.
The president pledged to continue a crackdown against illegal immigration, one day after tweeting that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would soon begin removing “millions of illegal aliens” from the country.
He told Florida supporters: “We believe our country should be a sanctuary for law-abiding citizens, not for criminal aliens.”
Donald Trump also accused Democrats of seeking to legalize illegal immigration in order to boost their voting base, and said they “want to destroy our country as we know it”.
President Trump described his opponents as a “radical left-wing mob” who he said would bring socialism to the US.
He told the crowd: “A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream.”
President Trump also praised the economy, criticized the Mueller investigation into alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, and referred to media covering the event as “fake news back there”.
Donald Trump also elicited “lock her up” chants from supporters when he brought up Hillary Clinton, despite her not being in the 2020 race.
Amy Lappos called on Joe Biden not to run for the White House, saying: “Uninvited affection is not okay. Objectifying women is not okay.”
Lucy Flores was running as the Democratic candidate for Nevada’s lieutenant governor in 2014 when Joe Biden flew in to support her bid.
As she prepared to go on stage, Joe Biden placed two hands on her shoulders from behind, smelled her hair then planted “a big slow kiss on the back of my head”.
Asked about the new allegation, a spokesman for Joe Biden referred reporters to a statement he issued on March 31.
The statement read: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately.”
“But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will,” it added.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama were known for their close friendship, often seen playing golf and attending sports events together. Joe Biden even said that Barack Obama offered him financial help when his son was ill.
For his vice president’s birthday in 2017, Barack Obama posted a photo of the two of them on Twitter, writing that Joe Biden was his “brother and the best vice president anybody could have”.
On April, a spokesman for Joe Biden also accused “right wing trolls” of presenting harmless images of the former vice president interacting with women over the years as evidence of inappropriate touching.
A number of candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have backed Lucy Flores.
Senator Elizabeth Warren said Joe Biden “needs to give an answer”, and Senator Amy Klobuchar said that in politics “people raise issues and they have to address them”.
Some supporters though have defended him. Cynthia Hogan, a former aide to the vice-president, told the New York Times that Joe Biden “treated us with respect and insisted that others do the same”. An ally of Joe Biden told CNN he was not reconsidering a run for the White House following the allegations but stressed he was yet to make a decision.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden appeared to announce his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, before immediately correcting himself.
Joe Biden made the slip while addressing 1,000 Democrats at a dinner in his home state of Delaware.
The democrat said his record was the most progressive “of anyone running for the United-” before correcting himself and saying, “anybody who would run”.
The audience stood up and chanted “run Joe run”, while the 76-year-old crossed himself and said: “I didn’t mean it!”
Addressing party brokers and leaders in the city of Dover, Joe Biden said that it was time to restore the country’s “backbone”, but that they needed political consensus to move beyond what he called today’s “mean”, “petty” and “vicious” political landscape.
“I’m told I get criticized by the new left,” Joe Biden said, referring to a group of popular new left-wing Democrats that includes congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United- “
The former vice-president then corrected himself, saying: “Anybody who wouldrun.”
As the diners rose to their feet and chanted “run Joe run”, Joe Biden laughed and insisted: “I didn’t mean it!”
“Of anybody who would run,” he continued.
“Because folks, we have to bring this country back together again.”
Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders has announced his second bid for presidency in 2020.
Bernie Sanders, 77, became a progressive political star in 2016 although he lost his candidacy bid.
His campaign says it raised $1 million within three and half hours of launching.
An outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, the Vermont senator has described him as a “pathological liar” and “racist”.
Bernie Sanders – an independent who caucuses with the Democrats – is one of the best-known names to join a crowded and diverse field of Democratic candidates, and early polls suggest he is far ahead.
His calls for universal government-provided healthcare, a $15 national minimum wage and free college education electrified young voters, raised millions of dollars in small donations and are now pillars of the party’s left wing.
Bernie Sanders, who lost the 2016 Democratic primary to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in his email: “Three years ago, when we talked about these and other ideas, we were told that they were ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’.
“Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for.”
Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has said he is “seriously considering” running for president in 2020.
Howard Schultz, who stepped down as Starbucks’ boss in 2018, says he is considering running as a centrist independent candidate in 2020.
In a series of tweets, he said the current two political parties in the US were “more divided than ever”.
During an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Howard Schultz said he had been a “lifelong Democrat” but criticized the current two-party dominated system.
He said: “We’re living at a most-fragile time not only the fact that this president is not qualified to be the president, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged, every single day, in revenge politics.”
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro is among those who have criticized the move.
Julián Castro told CNN that Howard Schultz’s potential run could give President Donald Trump the “best hope of getting re-elected” by splitting the opposition vote.
He said: “I would suggest to Mr. Schultz to truly think about the negative impact that might make.”
Howard Schultz rebuffed that criticism during his CBS interview, insisting: “I wanna see the American people win.
“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Republican. Bring me your ideas and I will be an independent person, who will embrace those ideas. Because I am not, in any way, in bed with a party.”
Howard Schultz, a former espresso machine salesman, grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, New York.
He started working for the original Seattle Starbucks chain back in 1982 when it only had 11 outlets selling coffee beans.
Howard Schultz, now 65, acquired the company in 1987 and by the time he stepped down in 2018, it had grown to 28,000 cafe in 77 countries around the world.
He frequently used his position to speak out on social issues like immigration and gun control.
He now has an estimated fortune of about $3 billion and is a regular donor to Democrat campaigns, including that of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Howard Schultz’s departure as CEO of Starbucks last year sparked rumor of his political ambitions.
His comments on January 27 prompted coffee-themed criticism by some on social media.
The Washington State Democrats posted a photograph, without comment, of a Starbucks cup with: “Don’t do it Howard” written on.