In the 2016 election, then-candidate Hillary Clinton received more votes than Trump. But she won fewer states — nine — than Bernie Sanders, who lost seven.
Now Sanders, a Vermont senator who gained a national following for his progressive views, is courting Democratic voters in 2019 with the same straight-from-the-hills message and populist tone that became a part of his 2016 campaign.
Here's what you need to know about how Sanders has already reshaped the 2020 field, and where he'll likely stand in a race against Democrats with a much wider swath of experience and fundraising capabilities.
1. As Sanders, D-Vt., rises, Clinton wanes
Clinton's support declined across the party spectrum. But Sanders' support grew from 15% to 25% in one poll. Sanders, even as he and Clinton competed in their home states, were neck-and-neck in the District of Columbia.
The poll numbers are murky, largely because Sanders hasn't officially announced. But the matchup — Sanders over Clinton, 50%-32%, in his home state of Vermont — hints at where Sanders could be vulnerable.
2. His views extend to the future
Sanders was a critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and opposes “free trade agreements” such as NAFTA. He vows to fight for $15 minimum wage and provides a national health care option.
These positions are part of the Sanders brand, and in the case of his trade and the health care proposal, they draw strong support. But Sanders also has a more youthful, liberal voter base and lags on fundraising. He was once the third wealthiest member of Congress but is reportedly worth at least $20 million.
3. Unifying the party matters more than financing
Sixty-seven percent of self-identified Democratic voters in the new CNN poll support “full legalization of marijuana for adult use” and 59% support “expanded background checks on gun purchases.”
But those are little-known issues — even though both positions have some viability in a 2020 race. The priorities that Democrats prioritize in 2020 — immigration, equal pay and Medicare-for-all — are widely supported but often not the most controversial positions.
Sanders' views are closely in line with what the party is seeking on those issues, but his fundraising base and popularity for his more accessible — and often controversial — policies can make it more difficult for Democrats to coalesce around them.