NORTH CAROLINA -- With less than a year to go before North Carolina voters first get to weigh in on the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic field is beginning to come into focus.
- With a few names still undeclared, all told, more than a dozen Democrats have jumped into the race.
- In North Carolina, Democrats will get to pick their favorite on March 3, 2020 which is Super Tuesday.
- This weekend, at least two of the Democratic candidates - Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg - will be campaigning just south of the North Carolina border in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
With a few names still undeclared, all told, more than a dozen Democrats have jumped into the race.
In North Carolina, Democrats will get to pick their favorite on March 3, 2020 which is Super Tuesday. Many other states are also holding primaries that day, including Massachusetts, California, and Texas.
While North Carolina may not have the most Democratic delegates to offer, Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer says expect Democrats to closely monitor the North Carolina race in hopes of identifying a message that resonates.
North Carolina is often labeled a potential toss-up state in the general election, and an effective message could help turn the state blue on Election Day.
“If any Democrat wants to try to win the White House, North Carolina has to be competitive if not in the Democrats' column,” Bitzer said.
In 2016, Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton in North Carolina by 3.5 percent.
Already, a poll has provided a very early indication of what North Carolinians are thinking about the Democratic contest.
An Elon University poll ranks Joe Biden at the top of the pack in terms of leaving a positive impression, even though he has not yet formally entered the race. According to the poll, 54.5 percent of respondents said they have a "positive impression" of the former vice president.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren round out the top three, with 44 percent and 29.6 percent of respondents saying they have a positive impression of the candidate, respectively.
The poll was conducted February 20 through March 7, and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
However, political experts warn against reading too much into this poll and others released right now. It is early in the cycle. Many of the candidates in the field simply do not have the name recognition yet. That will likely change in coming months, as candidates hit the campaign trail and participate in debates.
For context, George Washington University professor Steven Billet says think of where things stood on the Republican side of the aisle at this point in the 2016 contest.
“If you look back to the polls that were run four years ago at this point in March of 2015, we saw that Scott Walker was leading the Republican field, Jeb Bush was running second, and Donald Trump had not announced,” said Billet, who heads the school’s legislative affairs program.
If anything, the poll may include one key hint at who might rein in the Tar Heel state’s Democratic primary.
“A moderate has advantages in North Carolina for a lot of reasons, ideologically and otherwise,” Billet said.
This weekend, at least two of the Democratic candidates, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, will be campaigning just south of the North Carolina border in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The Palmetto state is even earlier on the primary calendar than North Carolina.