California is determined to force 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls to make some hard choices, Reuters writes. The nation’s most populous liberal state has moved its presidential nominating contest to early in the 2020 calendar, a shift its leaders hope will give it maximum impact on the selection of a Democratic nominee and push candidates to address progressive issues such as climate change.
The reshuffling means California voters, who can cast ballots weeks before primary election day, will be helping to determine a nominee at the same time as those in traditional early primary states such as New Hampshire.
“It’s a big deal,” said Ben Tulchin, a San Francisco-based consultant who worked as a pollster for Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. “The traditional schedule had smaller states, more affordable states, retail politics. California is not like that.”
The shift to so-called “Super Tuesday” in March 2020 will change how campaigns structure their efforts and require tough decisions about allocation of resources, Democratic Party sources and strategists say. Competing in California, with its large, expensive media markets, may only be possible for the most deep-pocketed campaigns.
According to Reuters, that factor alone might be enough to keep some of the two dozen or so Democrats who are considering entering the race from getting in.
“The amount of money you’re going to need to be competitive in California is just going to knock so many people out before it begins,” said James Demers, who was co-chairman of Democratic President Barack Obama’s campaign in New Hampshire. “It feels like the day and age of using Iowa and New Hampshire to get a campaign started are over.”
Those two states have zealously guarded their position as the points of entry for presidential aspirants. But with their small and largely homogenous populations, they may be more a part of the Democratic Party’s past than its future, as liberal elements within the diverse party have pushed to have a bigger say in the selection of a nominee.
In the 2016 race, the two states combined to apportion 68 Democratic delegates to presidential candidates. California, the biggest prize, awarded 475. The candidate who amasses the majority of delegates will be formally nominated at the party’s convention in the summer of 2020 and then likely will face President Donald Trump, a Republican, in the general election as he seeks a second term.