The Official Democratic Presidential Candidate Tier List
Ranking the Democrats' potential presidential candidates for 2024 and beyond.
To win the future, Republicans will only have to get lucky once. Democrats have to get lucky every time.
This, in essence, is the primary challenge facing the Democratic Party this decade. In the past, long-term control over the federal government was seen as a rare luxury. Turnover between the parties was expected, with few long-term plans on either side of the aisle being completely upended by just one bad election. Now, at least for those to the left-of-center, it will be a necessity for any possibility of meaningful change. Just the state of the Supreme Court alone has made sure of this. If Democrats are ever going to control the government anytime soon, they will need to be no less than perfect.
But the power to determine this will not be held by the party as a whole. Instead, it will rest on the shoulders of the men and women they choose to nominate for President. With elections at every level determined almost entirely by the results at the top of the ticket, the person given that slot becomes more important than ever. It isn’t the kind of position that should be handed out lightly on the basis of seniority or any other superficial consideration. It should only go to the best of the best—capable of winning big, able to represent something that could actually inspire people, and holding a record that is, at the very least, not to the right of the party as a whole.
Who fits this bill? Who doesn’t? Who falls somewhere in between? All of those questions will be answered here, at least as it stands for the mainstream of the party.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
At the very bottom of this list, we have one of the most polarizing figures in the Democratic Party today, at least on the internet. Essentially, there are two stances you can take towards the former South Bend mayor. On one side, there are those who are absolutely enamored with him as a once-in-a-generation transformative figure.
These people have been conned.
On the other side, there are people who see him as a laughably unqualified, insincere, and overambitious hack who has earned no right to be anywhere near a position of power.
These people are correct.
That this man—who lost in a blowout the single time he has run in a statewide election—is completely unqualified for the responsibilities of leading a national ticket, much less the presidency itself, is such an obvious fact that even stating it feels redundant. I will, nevertheless, go through it in detail. Pete Buttigieg doesn’t represent the absolute worst things about politics today, but he comes pretty close. He is a desperately ambitious and completely unprincipled egomaniac who, rather than doing anything useful, has fashioned his entire life around appealing to the most gullible voters in the most blatant way possible. The fact that he ran for President of the United States after two terms as the mayor of a college town was a complete farce. That he received the support he did was an even bigger one. That he was given something as important of a cabinet position as a reward for this was a disgrace. And in that position, he has, predictably, done a terrible job.
And after all of this, he doesn’t even have the decency to poll well. Usually, the tradeoff involved with amoral strivers like Buttigieg is that they’re good at winning elections, but he can’t even do that. He was one of few candidates in the runup to the 2020 election who could not manage to consistently lead against Trump in head-to-head polls. If he had somehow managed to get nominated then, he would have lost badly, and there’s no reason to think that things might be any different in 2024, 2028, and beyond—especially now that he’s associated with a chronically unpopular administration. And even if he somehow managed to overcome his repulsively insincere personality and make it to the White House, he would be a terrible President. There are absolutely no positives, or even potential positives, to a Buttigieg nomination. God help us if it somehow ends up happening.
Mayor Eric Adams (D-NY)
New York City is known for a lot of things. Good mayors are not one of them. Despite being a pretty important place with a pretty important government—its $100 billion municipal budget is larger than 41 U.S. states—New York voters have, for decades, regularly made some of the stupidest possible choices for their top job. In contrast to the city’s reputation as a left-wing, progressive bastion, its voters seem to love getting cute at the mayoral level, and, as such, have been relentless in imposing figures like Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg upon the rest of the nation. The 2013 election of Bill de Blasio, a solid if unspectacular liberal, made it look, for a brief, merciful moment, that the city may have gotten tired of this routine. But this was only a prelude to the city’s greatest act yet. In 2021, New York City voters would once again outdo themselves, electing one of the most truly bizarre characters of the current political era.
Meet Eric Adams: the 110th Mayor of New York City and a deeply strange man in every possible sense.
There’s a lot you can say about Adams, from his countless petty scandals to his personal eccentricities to his peculiar public persona, but if you were to sum him up in a single sentence, it would be this: he truly only cares about himself. Adams is a Democrat, but he has no commitment to any of the party’s goals. And by this, I don’t just mean their larger programmatic agenda, as milquetoast as it may be. I mean things as basic as getting other Democrats elected to public office. From his perch as mayor of the largest city in the country, Adams has used his time to essentially work as Republican message flack, constantly talking down the city and people he governs as a scare tactic be believes will strengthen his political position. You can draw a throughline from his constant fear-mongering about crime over the course of 2022 to the election of the likes of George Santos. And he’s never cared—in fact, if he’s still in office while you’re reading this, he’s probably doing it right now. This is the kind of politics Adams would bring to the national stage if he ever somehow won the Democratic nomination. It would not be ideal, to say the least.
But even this fails to illustrate the full downside of a ticket led by Adams. While you’d never know it if you listened to the out-of-touch pundits who have smugly pushed the Mayor, he performed terribly in the 2021 election! Despite constantly pandering to conservatives throughout his campaign and career, Adams received a vote share almost exactly identical to what de Blasio received in 2017. Like Buttigieg, he doesn’t even have the decency to actually get anything out of his awful policies and monomaniacal desire for power. He’s ranked above the lightweight Secretary on the basis of experience, but make no mistake. Both an Adams nomination and an Adams administration would be a catastrophe.
Vice President Kamala Harris (D-CA)
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