The 2020 Democratic announcements, ranked

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With so many candidates getting in the race, it’s worth looking at who did it best. (Nota bene: Campaign announcements don’t make or break a campaign. But they do provide — or not — some early momentum among donors, activists and the media.) By “best” I mean some combination of a) drew significant and prolonged media attention b) reached people who previously didn’t know anything about them c) pushed a message they plan to run on d) created a memorable moment (or two) and e) made some measurable difference in the polls.

It goes without saying that this is a subjective measure. But here we go anyway!

1. Kamala Harris: From the California senator’s decision to announce on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (and the same week as Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential announcement) to her making her first early state campaign stop in South Carolina to the 20,000+ people who came to Harris’ formal announcement in Oakland to her rapid bump in national polling, this announcement is without question the leader in the clubhouse right now.

2. Amy Klobuchar: The image of the Minnesota senator announcing in the midst of a snowstorm isn’t one anybody is going to forget any time soon. Klobuchar went into her campaign announcement with a name ID problem; she comes out of it with people at least knowing she’s the one who announced in the snow — which is a win for her.

3. Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator didn’t need a lot of glitz in his announcement — given that the knock on him is that he’s a show horse. So he went local — very local — announcing in Newark, the town where he launched his political career and where he still lives. That Booker chose February 1 — the first day of Black History Month — made for a bit of nice symbolism as well.

4. Julian Castro: When you are one of the least well-known candidates who are regarded as having some chance at the nomination, the sooner you get into the presidential race, the better. To his credit, Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, grasped that reality — and got into the race way back on January 12. And he didn’t screw around: He just got in — which is good when it comes to convincing people you are in it to win it.

5. Elizabeth Warren: Ask yourself this: Which candidate who announced for president over the weekend got better press — Klobuchar or Warren? It’s Klobuchar in a romp, right? Given how problematic the run-up to Warren’s campaign has been — the Native American issue — she probably just wanted to formally get into the race and get it over with. Mission accomplished, I guess.

6. John Delaney: Take a guess when the former Maryland congressman announced for president? It was July 28, 2017!  He’s been running for president for more than 18 months! 
7. Tulsi Gabbard: The Hawaii congresswoman kind of, sort of announced in an interview with CNN’s Van Jones on January 12. And/but she also announced via video on January 25. And by January 29, Politico ran a story headlined “Tulsi Gabbard Campaign in Disarray.” Not good.

The Point: How you start doesn’t always predict how you’ll finish. But you’d much rather get off to a good start than a bad one in something as all-encompassing as a presidential campaign.

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