There are too many men running for president, as it turns out. Don’t be scared though because we are here to help you tell them apart.


Julián Castro

Wait, who?

Poor Julián Castro, once Texas Democrats’ favorite son, now demoted to second place by Beto O’Rourke. Despite being the former mayor of a much larger city than, say, South Bend, Indiana as well as President Obama’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Castro is barely making a blip in the presidential polls. Even his better-than-most immigration platform barely made the news. Castro is a twin, which is something? He is, dare I say it, a little boring?

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

He is a center-left Democrat who, like many, is feeling the shifting winds of the Democratic electorate, and has recently embraced some progressive reform ideas, from Medicare for All to legalizing marijuana and tuition-free college.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?  

Yes—and when he’s feeling particularly frisky, he’ll even wear jeans.

How is he trying to make you like him?  

He’s from San Antonio, like me! “I didn’t grow up a frontrunner,” he told Vanity Fair recently, a sentiment that I, who also didn’t grow up a frontrunner, can really relate to. But it’s his mom Rosie Castro, a former activist with the Chicanx rights organization La Raza Unida, that I really love. “When I grew up I learned that the ‘heroes’ of the Alamo were a bunch of drunks and crooks and slaveholding imperialists who conquered land that didn’t belong to them,” she told the New York Times Magazine in a 2010 profile of her son. Julian, more of your fucking awesome mom, please!

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Lawful good

Phish?

No. My girl Rosie would be too upset.

Esther Wang

Cory Booker

Wait, who?

The 49-year-old senator from New Jersey was, I assume, born knowing how to firmly shake your hand and deliver your school’s commencement speech. Booker is a talented orator who frequently quotes Martin Luther King Jr. and is running on a platform of unifying the intensely polarized country. Booker says he supports Medicare for All (though doesn’t really seem to), the Green New Deal, and has prioritized criminal justice reform, which is why he is friends with Rand Paul or something. (Or maybe not anymore!) He also says he’d like to introduce a new Voting Rights Act to tackle voter suppression. While many of his politics are now progressive, however, Booker is trying desperately to shed the image that he’s a moderate Democrat in the pocket of big pharma (in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, he raked in more money from industry execs and employees than any other lawmaker). In an attempt to shed that reputation, he said his campaign will not accept money from corporate interests, particularly the pharmaceutical industry.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

I’m skeptical.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

He definitely has multiple ties.

How is he trying to make you like him?

He’s a Rosario Dawson fan, just like you.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

What does this even mean?

Phish?

Just gonna guess no.

Prachi Gupta

Jay Inslee

Wait, who?

Jay Inslee is the granola candidate of the 2020 election cycle. The current governor of Washington state, Inslee has been dedicated to environmental action since he was a damn child! Now, he’s made our current climate crisis the primary focus of his presidential run. Many Americans may still see the environment as a secondary concern behind jobs and health care, but arguably he’s right about the world melting being the most important thing we are facing right now. To make the point, Inslee has also linked the threat of environmental calamity to the economy, health care, and national security. In April, he told Mother Jones, “The thing you need to understand about climate change is it’s not one issue. It’s not a single issue. It’s all the issues.”

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless? 

I say good.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

Yes, actually! A brief Google search shows Inslee wearing everything from a traditional suit and tie to a parka and plaid tee

How is he trying to make you like him? 

He has an “orca agenda.” Who doesn’t like orcas?

Dungeons & Dragons alignment? 

Lawful good.

Phish? 

Oh, almost definitely.

Ashley Reese

John Hickenlooper

Wait, who?

John Hickenlooper, 67, is a former governor of Colorado who says really inspiring things like, “I’m not the smartest guy out there.” He’s probably best known for making Colorado a more 420-friendly state (though at first he opposed legalization), but his policies are generally lackluster and disappointing: He’s not a fan of the Green New Deal, loves the fracking industry, and generally identifies as a more moderate Democrat. He’d apparently be willing to run with a woman on the presidential ticket, but wonders, as he told CNN, “How come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’” Okay!

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Pretty middle-of-the-road.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

Yes, but not sure he owns an iron.

How is he trying to make you like him? 

He did admit to once watching porn with his mom, which is a deeply weird anecdote to tell an audience of prospective voters. He also divulged, in his 2016 memoir, how hard it was for him to lose his virginity.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment? 

???

Phish? 

Maybe. He is from Colorado, which is Vermont-lite.

Prachi Gupta

Beto O’Rourke

Wait, who?

Former representative from Texas who made a run for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat; skateboard dad.  

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

O’Rourke is a centrist, but his relative value shifted as soon as he decided to run for president. In his Senate run, O’Rourke presented a credible challenge to Ted Cruz, an obvious barrier to any progressive legislation getting through in the Senate. It was a pretty beautiful thing to watch, honestly. O’Rourke was such a catalyzing figure in the state that, after losing to Cruz, he could have continued to ride that genuinely moving grassroots enthusiasm to do any number of things to further the project of unlocking Texas from a Republican death grip: he could have challenged John Cornyn for his Senate seat in 2020 or spent time in the state helping to build out the political infrastructures that might help a more progressive candidate win any number of things in the future. Instead, he ran for president on a platform of—what, exactly? Your aunt’s friend Lisa wanting to fuck him? Thanks for nothing, Beto!

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

All evidence points to no.

How is he trying to make you like him?

How isn’t he trying to make you like him?

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Senate campaign was lawful good, but presidential race is clearly lawful evil.

Phish?

Wouldn’t put it past him. I can smell the eclecticism of Beto’s 1999-era CD travel wallet thing from here.

Katie McDonough 

Joe Biden

Wait, who?

After spending the last few months flirting with Democratic voters, former vice president Joe Biden decided on Thursday to officially announce his candidacy. According to nearly every poll, Biden leads among voters and, even though he’s the 20th addition to the Democratic primary, is generally considered the frontrunner. Though Biden has cultivated his persona as every centrist’s favorite granddad, his nomination isn’t a guarantee.

This will be his third attempt to win a primary—he ran in 1988 and again in 2008. His 1988 campaign ended after he plagiarized a speech by a British Labour leader. Eventual nominee Michael Dukakis (who, I’d like to note, one of my political science professors once called “a real political asshole”) seized on Biden’s fuckup and ran ads contrasting Biden’s lifted speech with the original. His 2008 campaign, during which he talked about Iraq a lot, ended after Iowa. We’re likely to see the Obama-era iteration of Biden during the 2020 campaign: old school centrism offered up as a real alternative to devastating Trump policies. Still, Biden will probably have to answer for quite a bit, including his creepy behavior with women and his shitty treatment of Anita Hill. Further, as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders pull the Democratic Party to the left with policy proposals like Medicare for All, Biden’s centrism might look a bit dated. Who knows? Maybe he’ll win this thing. Just keep him away from women! After Lucy Flores accused Biden of smelling her hair and kissing her on the head, three more women came forward alleging that Biden made them uncomfortable. In response, Biden said that “social norms [...] have shifted,” and promised to be more “mindful” of personal space. If Biden’s previous responses are an indication, he will shift the subject to his championing of the Violence Against Women Act when asked about his past treatment of women.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Centrist.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

He has many expensive and well-tailored suits.

How are they trying to make you like them?

Every time he talks about his family, my cold heart warms just a little bit.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Lawful neutral.

Phish?

I can see Biden jamming to Phish.

Stassa Edwards

Wayne Messam

Wait, who?

Mayor Wayne Messam announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in March. Messam, the mayor of Miramar—a small city in southwest Broward County known largely (by me) as a city I have to drive through to get to Miami—is a longshot even in a primary increasingly crowded by longshots. Messam was elected mayor in 2015, becoming the city’s first black mayor. So far, Messam’s platform isn’t fully fleshed out but he has introduced a plan to cancel the $1.56 trillion in national student debt. (Messam went to Florida State on a full football scholarship and has spoken extensively about the advantage it gave him). He has also addressed issues on the minds of Florida voters, including immigration (his parents are Jamaican immigrants), climate change, and gun control. His campaign, however, has already hit a few bumps. In April, the Miami New Times reported that Messam’s campaign was in “chaos” after it failed to pay staffers. As a result, “multiple campaign employees resigned.” It all sounds a bit shady.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Seems fine.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

He owns both ties and bowties.

How is he trying to make you like him?

Every time he talks about Bobby Bowden, I feel personally targeted.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment? 

I have no idea.

Phish?

Unclear.

Stassa Edwards 

Andrew Yang

Who?

Andrew Yang is a startup guy and ex-goth from New York City. He announced his candidacy in 2017, but is only now beginning to get a little traction: He’s polling at an average of one percent, has enough unique donors to qualify for the Democratic debates this summer. Yang has never held or ran for elected office. He has made universal basic income the pillar of his campaign; his Freedom Dividend program would give every American adult $1,000 each month. His other top policy priorities include student loan forgiveness, Medicare for All, and addressing climate change. He’s also pushing for campaign finance through something he’s calling Democracy Dollars: $100 given to every voter to donate to a candidate of their choosing in an attempt to disrupt the influence of big money on politics. A contingent of white nationalists love him, but he has disavowed their support.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

He has some good proposals that left-of-center folks could get into, but he should probably be a little more aggressive about the white nationalists who stan him.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit? 

No, but had a trench in high school.

How is he trying to make you like him?

Giving you $1,000 a month and having a Smiths phase. Oh, and memes.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment? 

Chaotic Good.

Phish? 

Doubtful.

Ashley Reese

Tim Ryan

Wait, who?

Tim Ryan is a Democrat from Ohio; I know nothing else about him other than that he came for Nancy Pelosi’s seat as Democratic leader and failed in 2016. He is running on the notion that he can rebuild the economy and invest in public education. Seems like we will not have to worry about him for too much longer, but at this stage in the game, everyone can play.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Gonna go with useless.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

My man has a blue tie, an orange tie, and a red tie. He has a blue suit, a black suit, and a fetching blue suit jacket with a faint plaid pattern—cuter than it sounds!

How is he trying to make you like him?

Is he?

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

How does true neutral work again?

Phish?

Probably.

Megan Reynolds

Bernie Sanders

Wait, who?

You know this guy from the last time! He’s from Vermont! He wants everyone to have free healthcare and college! HIs hair is soft like candy floss, birds love him, he yells an awful lot, and even though he tried this shit the last time around, he’s still ready and raring to give it another go.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

They’re good. Free healthcare, good. Free college, also good. Screaming at Wall Street fat cats and billionaires to pay more taxes because they have the money—very good. Uncle Bernard’s poltiics mirror that of my boomer dad’s and so with that in mind, it’s good.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

Seems like all Bernard has in his closet at home is a dark blue suit, a white shirt and a tie of varying colors depending on his mood. I believe I’ve seen him in a practical windbreaker of sorts over this uniform, and so I think I can say with authorty that the answer to this quesiton is sort of.

How is he trying to make you like him?

What’s refreshing about Bernard is that he’s making little to no effort on his part to court votes; Bernard will not pander by telling sad stories about his childhood drinking egg creams and playing stickball in Brooklyn. His staff, on the other hand, desperately wishes he would do so, and so are doing their very best.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Lawful good.

Phish?

He’s from fucking Vermont.

Megan Reynolds


Eric Swalwell

Wait, who?

California Representative Eric Swalwell is running on guns. In 2018, he suggested the Untied States ban the possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and also implement a buy back program, which made the National Rifle Association and other gun-types on the right hate his guts. When one such gun-type tweeted that Swalwell’s proposal was a declaration of “war,” Swalwell replied that the war would be short because “the government has nukes.” He also loves the internet.

Are his politics actively good, actively bad, or actively useless?

Maybe he shouldn’t joke nuking people, but he’s got some good ideas on guns.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

No, just different ties.

How is he trying to make you like him?

Pushing strong gun legislation. And like you, he is unable to log the fuck off!

Dungeons & Dragons alignment? 

Neutral Good?

Phish? 

He looks like a bit of a jock, but it could really go either way.

Ashley Reese

Mike Gravel

Wait, who?

Former senator from Alaska.

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

You want to laugh at Mike Gravel because he threw a big rock into some water? Well ha ha ha hahaha—he is the only candidate articulating a clear position in support of sex workers rights, is right about prisons and voter enfranchisement, and understands the actual point of a political primary. Specifically, he doesn’t even want to be president! (“I’m too old,” he’s said.) He just wants to get on the debate stage, push the primary left, and give whatever money he raises to support community work in Flint, Michigan. It’s good that he doesn’t want to be president, though, because he is a 9/11 truther, which the teens running his campaign have disavowed.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

I’ve seen him in a t-shirt and a suit.

How is he trying to make you like him?

Letting teens run his campaign.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Chaotic good, right?

Phish?

I could see it, honestly.

Katie McDonough

Pete Buttigieg

Wait, who?

How to describe Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, whose few political achievements to date largely consist of championing an urban renewal program and firing his city’s black police chief? One could uncharitably liken him to a Shinola watch, as I did recently—a man with fairly pedestrian and establishment-friendly politics wrapped up in a nice exterior and glossed with an appealing story. Yet somehow, Buttigieg—whose strategy at the moment seems to be to take any chance he can get to get press, which is admittedly smart!—is climbing in the polls. Did you know that every time someone whispers “Buttigieg,” an enraged Elizabeth Warren fan gets their wings?

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Buttigieg is rather cagey on the specific details of what he supports. But read this or this if you’re curious about what Buttigieg stands for and how he governs. (Not great!)

Does he appear to own more than one outfit? 

No. It’s business casual all the time for Mayor Pete!

How is he trying to make you like them?

His husband Chasten runs a very cute Twitter account for their dogs. In fact, Chasten is one of the few good things about Pete’s campaign, gently chiding him for his love of Phish (see below) and lifting up LGBTQ youth. He clearly would rather do fun things like watch Hadestown than be on the campaign trail, which, relatable.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Lawful neutral. He’s a technocrat after all!

Phish? Unfortunately, yes. He, again unfortunately, has a Spotify playlist he shared with the world called “Buttijams.” PLEASE, WE MUST DEFEAT HIM AT ALL COSTS UNLESS I GUESS HE ENDS UP BEING THE NOMINEE AND THEN WE MUST SUPPORT HIM TO THE BITTER END.

Esther Wang

John Delaney

Who?

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

How are they trying to make you like them?

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Phish?

Katie McDonough

Bill de Blasio (Maybe)

Wait, who?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is not charismatic, a shortfall that has not yet impeded him from continually seeking higher office. Though he has yet to announce a presidential run, de Blasio appears to be going through the motions of it—fundraising, traveling, and quietly reallocating city-funded staffers from, say, fixing the subway. Think pieces bemoaning the horror of a de Blasio presidential run have become so numerous that they have tipped into a trend piece cliche. Indeed, his looming campaign is a lone unifier of New York City residents: 76 percent of whom, according to one poll, agree that de Blasio absolutely should not run for president. In a way, de Blasio’s failures are building a flattened, equal opportunity playing field—in which a man can be just too unlikeable. Sad!

Actively good, actively bad, actively useless?

Broadly progressive: universal pre-k, affordable housing, and police reform stemming from a referendum on stop-and-frisk. But, in truth, de Blasio’s policies have never been his problem, it’s his ham-fisted implementations coupled with his thirst for ever-more-powerful political positions that leave him looking more like a try-hard caricature then an inspiring leader.

Does he appear to own more than one outfit?

Well, de Blasio wears both orange and red ties.

How is he trying to make you like him?

He is trying everything and anything. He is also very, very tall.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment?

Next question?

Phish?

Almost certainly.

Alexis Sobel Fitts

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