How to find the right Democratic primary candidate for you

With more than 15 Democrats already running for president and more announcing by the day, it might be hard for voters to pick a favorite, especially this far way from November 2020.

After all, for Democrats even the lowliest of low candidates would be a vast – and consequential – improvement over the current occupant of the White House. Already, it’s a deep field with a lot of different types of candidates and different experiences.

The White House in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Skim through Facebook or Twitter posts by Democrats and just about every one about the primary starts with the same, magic incantation: “Just to be clear, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is” followed by a few words about this candidate or that and a link.

And who can blame Democrats: President Donald Trump is like a walking, talking, tweeting trigger. He manages to concoct a toxic brew of lies, racist tropes, dog whistles and dumb ideas that obscure the real damage he’s doing to the country through malfeasance, neglect and bad policy.

To help out my fellow Democrats, here’s a scoring system to help you find right candidate for you:

If their name starts with a “B,” plus 1. Bill de Blasio, if he runs, gets 2 points. (Beth Warren, sure, I guess. If you say so.)

If you like them but can’t pronounce their name, minus 2 points. Pete (Boot-edge-edge), Kamala. Tulsi. Klobuchar. Gillibrand.

If you don’t like them and can’t pronounce their name, minus 1 point.

If they made up their name or go by a nickname, minus 1 point. Beto? If their first name is awful, then plus 1 point for creativity. Beto? If they’re nickname is painful, plus 2 for being true to themselves. Beto? Any of the candidates called “Stinky” and willing to admit it? That’s the honesty we should be looking for.

Has Trump given them a nickname? Plus 10.

If you’ve actually met the candidate, plus 5.

If you met them and like them, plus 7. If you met them and didn’t like them, plus 2. They still get credit for saying hello.

If they’ve admitted to smoking marijuana, plus 1. If they’ve bragged about smoking marijuana, minus 2. If they have a thoughtful platform about drugs and the opioid epidemic, plus 3.

If they drink Bud Light in Iowa, minus 1. If they drink craft beer anywhere, plus 2. If they brew craft beer, plus 5. (Craft brewing: Part agriculture, part manufacturing, part marketing and all magic.) If you’d like to have a beer with them, minus 5. Really, nobody cares who you want to have a beer with. Really. Nobody.

If they support Medicare for All, plus 1.  If they support expanding access to health care, but not Medicare for All, plus 1. If they want a public option for Obamacare, plus 1. If they want to stop the attack on Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs, plus 5. Oh hell, let’s be honest: Republicans want to take health care away from people, Democrats don’t. Call this one a draw and give all the Ds 10 points.

If “their path to victory” doesn’t include New Hampshire, plus 3. The rest of New England has just about had it with #FITN blah-blah from our neighbors to the south. Plus another 3 if the candidate’s path to victory includes Maine.

If they have detailed policy proposals that touch on breaking up huge monopolies, banking regulatory reform, climate change, criminal justice reform and strengthening democracy, plus 3. If they’re really cool, plus 3. If they’re too cool, minus 5.

Did they write a book, plus 1. Did you read it, plus 2. (Liar, minus 2 to your personal scorecard plus a 1-point penalty for being like Trump and not telling the truth.)

Have they been a mayor, member of the school board or on the town council? Plus 3. Have they been a governor? Plus 2. Are they a US senator? Minus 1 (unless they’re from your home state, plus 3). I know, I know: But everyone in the Senate thinks they should be president.

Veteran, plus 2; small business owner, plus 1; big business CEO, minus 1. Reality TV star, minus 50.

Part of a hacker collaborative, plus 1. Speaks a foreign language, plus 1. Ran into a burning building to save someone, plus 4. Colluded with Russia, minus 100,000.

Are they a woman? Plus 5. We really need to break that glass ceiling.

If the candidate emails you, plus 1. If the candidate’s finance director emails you, plus 1. If they’re husband, wife, mother, daughter, son or dog emails you, minus 1. If their campaign emails you 10 times a day, minus 1,000.

If you think they’re smart, plus 1. If you think they’re smarter than you, plus 2. If you think they’re attractive (what’s the polite term, charismatic?), plus 3. If they’re decidedly not attractive, plus 4.

Agrees with you on the policies you prioritize, plus 10. They actually have policy proposals, plus 5. You know what they are, plus 3.

You think they can beat Trump, plus 1,500.

Now divide by the Electoral College and subtract voter suppression for your final score.


David Farmer

About David Farmer

David Farmer is a political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children. He was senior adviser to Democrat Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor and a longtime journalist. You can reach him at