Mountain West Presidential Candidates Struggle With Name Recognition, Polling

Originally published on February 4, 2020 5:02 pm

Another one bites the dust. 

Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont., is the latest candidate from the Mountain West to drop out of the 2020 presidential race.

“While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering into this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates,” he said in a statement announcing the suspension of his campaign.

Former governor John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., dropped out in August. Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., is still hanging on but is currently polling at zero. 

All three men touted their cross-party appeal in a region that leans conservative. Bullock, for example, was elected governor in a state that voted for President Donald Trump by 20 points. But in a crowded Democratic field, they struggled with national name recognition and financial support.

“They really need national appeal in order to garner donations and support,” said Juliet Carlisle, associate professor of political science at the University of Utah. 

Carlisle said other, more popular politicians have a better shot at the moderate mantle, including Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. 

“In terms of moderate candidates, Biden is arguably the most well-known, recognizable moderate in the field,” she said. 

There are now 16 Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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