A Way Too Early 2020 Field Guide

Will we get to 20 challengers for 2020?

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The 2020 field got a new member Thursday, with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan becoming the 17th Democrat to throw their hat in the ring. Number 18 doesn’t look far behind, as California Rep. Eric Swalwell’s camp leaked that he plans to announce his candidacy next week. With former Vice President Joe Biden still fence-sitting and a few other challengers rumored to be waiting in the wings, there is a very real chance we could get to 20 for 2020™! Here is an early look at who’s in, who may join the fray and—most importantly—why it is way too early for investors to get hung up on proposals they love or loathe.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the 18 folks who have officially declared their Democratic candidacy or strongly signaled imminent plans to. 

Exhibit 1: Your Handy Democratic Slate

Source: The Internet and good-natured humor. *Reportedly plans to announce on April 14. **Reportedly plans to announce on late-night television next week.

If you are like us, you might have some questions. Such as: Would Senators Booker and Klobuchar be open to forming a comedy duo? Does Rep. Ryan like Governor Hickenlooper’s beer? How would Mr. Delaney stand against Senator Warren’s champion debate skills if he won? Did Rep. Swalwell’s film-director-turned-staffer ever shoot a music video for Mr. O’Rourke’s band? How do you pronounce Mayor Pete’s last name?

Oh, and there are of course policy questions. Lots and lots of policy questions. There will be even more policy questions if, as expected, Mr. Biden joins the fracas. Former Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet could also enter the fray, if headlines are accurate. Americans will start learning more about all these people’s platforms as they start stumping. June’s debate, which will span two nights and split the candidates into fields of 10, may provide some more soundbites.

But as the race heats up, don’t get too hyped over anything any candidate says. Not all of these ladies and gents will get anywhere near convention season. We daresay 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue isn’t the real goal for some, if not many, of these folks. Campaigning is a great way to put yourself in the running for a cabinet post, book deal or high-profile cable news gig. Gaining more national political celebrity can also help when it is time for the next round of re-election fundraising for your House or Senate seat. Said differently: The campaign is one long job interview, but it isn’t a foregone conclusion that all these cats are really interviewing for the same gig.

The field will probably start narrowing shortly after it hits its zenith. If there are more than 20 candidates in the running by the time of late-June’s debate, candidates who don’t hit certain polling or fundraising benchmarks will get left off the stage. Weak fundraising and polling may inspire some candidates to drop out before the primaries begin next winter. As primaries come and go, a core group of viable challengers will emerge. But who makes that group is anyone’s guess. Early polls aren’t terribly reliable, as they are generally based on little more than name recognition.

For investors, tuning out the noise until it becomes easier to assign probabilities to the race seems wise. If you like politics as sport and entertainment, then by all means, tune in and enjoy the show! But when it comes time to make investment decisions, enter your political cone of silence. Candidates’ policies will eventually matter to stocks, as we close in on a two-person horserace next year, but until then, considering them probably leads more to bias and error than sound investment decisions.

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*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.