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What to Know About The 2020 Election

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Feb 2, 2020

Editor's note: This guide was updated on Feb 2, 2020.

The Story

2020 is a presidential election year. And there’s no such thing as being too prepared.  

The Kickoff

The Iowa caucuses kick off the 2020 election. That’s because the Hawkeye State is the first to vote in the primary season. Here’s everything you need to know about the Iowa caucuses (including what exactly a caucus is), and why it can make or break a candidate’s chance at becoming president. Skimm Notes breaks down how Iowa got the no. 1 voting spot.

The Voting

You have a date with the polls soon. Here are some of this year’s biggest primaries and caucuses:

- Tuesday, February 11: New Hampshire primaries

- Saturday, February 22: Nevada Democratic caucus

- Saturday, February 29: South Carolina Democratic primary

- March 3: Super Tuesday

- March 17: Primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio; Northern Marianas Republican convention

- April 28: Primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island

Every vote counts. Lucky for you, we made it really easy to check if you’re registered to vote. Do it here.

The GOP Candidates

There are three. We’ll give you zero guesses about who the first one is.

President Donald Trump. Trump's been trying to Make America Great Again since 2017. Now he's up for round two. Odds are in his favor: since 1900, only five US presidents in history have lost their re-election bids.

Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh. Walsh wants to throw a Tea Party at the White House. But he has a history of using racial slurs and making controversial statements.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Weld was Trump's first GOP challenger. His big ideas? Re-join the Paris climate deal and say ‘tata’ to the deficit.

The Democratic Candidates

Dems want the White House back. Before taking on Trump for the throne, they’ll have to fight it out among each other. Meet your candidates.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). Bennet’s been a senator since 2009 and he’s developed a reputation for being a moderate. He’s known for being part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight in the Senate.

Former VP Joe Biden. Biden wants an office upgrade. And PS: he's one of the Democratic front-runners.

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg initially ruled out a 2020 run but changed his mind because he didn’t think any of the other Dem candidates could defeat Trump.

Former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg (it’s boot-edge-edge) is the millennial, Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar, veteran of Afghanistan, and two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana who’s got a ‘DC or bust’ sticker on the back of his car.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). Gabbard was the first American Samoan and first Hindu member elected to the House of Representatives. At 38, she’s one of the youngest candidates in the race.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Klobuchar is Minnesota’s first female senator. She's known as a moderate Democrat who’s gotten support from red voters and worked with Republicans on things like combatting human trafficking and the opioid epidemic.

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Patrick joined the 2020 race in mid-November – less than three months before the primary voting season kicked off.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). After losing the 2016 Democratic presidential primary to Hillary Clinton, Sanders is back. He’s been in the political game for decades and is the longest-serving independent member of Congress in history.

Billionaire Tom Steyer. Last year, billionaire Democratic activist and donor Steyer said he wouldn’t be running for president in 2020. Buutttt, he changed his mind.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Warren is a long-time critic of President Trump and has a reputation for putting pressure on the financial industry. Oh and you may have heard a thing or two about her policy ideas. She’s got lots of them.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Yang doesn’t have any experience in politics. But he launched a 2020 campaign because he’s afraid for the future of the country. His big talking point: universal basic income.

The Debates

Battle time. No it's not an episode of “The Bachelor,” but it might be just as dramatic. Here's what you need to know…

February 7: Eighth Democratic debate

8pm ET, ABC. The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are back to win you and New Hampshire over. This debate comes just a few days before the state's primary election – aka the first one in the 2020 race. ABC News, Apple News, and local TV station WMUR are hosting.

February 19: Ninth Democratic debate

NBC/MSNBC. The candidates are hitting the strip. This debate is going down in Las Vegas, and just a few days before Nevada's Democratic primary. NBC and MSNBC are hosting with The Nevada Independent. TBD who's moderating and how many mics we'll see on the stage.

February 25: Tenth Democratic debate

CBS. We're in the double digits, people. It's the 10th Democratic primary debate. This one's in South Carolina – another early primary state. CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute are partnering with Twitter to host this one.

The Issues

Candidates are dropping their policies on everything from health care to foreign policy to climate change. We Skimm’d where they stand on…

- Abortion 

- Climate change  

- Economy

- Education 

- Guns  

- Health care  

- Immigration  

- National security

- Social justice

The Security

Long presidential campaigns and inconsistent voting technology make it tough to safeguard America's elections. And with so much at stake in the 2020 vote, these vulnerabilities are keeping a lot of people up at night. Here's your Skimm Notes on election security.


Trump's base loves their man and he's considered a lock for the Republican nomination. Meanwhile, the field of Democratic candidates is still very full and includes both VIP names and people with no political experience. Trump’s 2016 win proved that even the most unlikely and less experienced political contenders have a shot.

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