On Friday, Senator Cory Booker announced his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Booker’s decision is no surprise, as he becomes the latest Democrat to join what is expected to be a crowded field.
Booker is also the fourth nonwhite candidate to declare, after Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, and Julian Castro. Former AG Eric Holder is also considering a run. This means that the Democrats will likely have multiple legitimate nonwhite contenders for the first time. In 2008, Barack Obama was able to win the primary by dominating the nonwhite vote. It won’t be as easy for any of the candidates in 2020. Even if one is able to get a majority of the nonwhite vote, it will be difficult to get the near-unanimous support Obama received. Multiple nonwhites competing for the nonwhite vote increases the chances for a White (or seemingly White) candidate to succeed; with another Black candidate to siphon off votes, Hillary Clinton likely would have won the nomination in 2008. It also increases the chances for a dark horse candidate to win with a plurality. Kamala Harris would probably be the favorite as the lone nonwhite contender. Competing against Booker and others, the picture becomes murkier.
This opens up chances for other candidates (and potential candidates) like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Gavin Newsom, Hillary Clinton, and others. As of now, there is no clear-cut establishment favorite as there was in 2016. The Democrat Party establishment will have a tough time herding nonwhite votes to its preferred candidate. It also has lost much of its superdelegate king-making powers. The new reality of ethnically vibrant primaries means a more chaotic environment for party elites.
Booker’s presence is just one more thing making it harder for them to control the outcome.