2020 Democrats grapple with California’s electoral buzz saw

Democratic presidential candidates are confronting the Democratic National Committee’s tough standards to get on the debate stage, trying to distinguish themselves from their many rivals and plotting how to win the critical four early voting states. That leaves them barely enough time to think about what would come next.

Next would be California, an electoral buzz saw that costs tens of millions of dollars to compete in and is the polar opposite of the early states that reward hustle, on-the-ground attention and local staff. Campaigns in California, which has about four times as many Democratic voters as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada combined, are won and lost through hugely expensive advertising and free media that reach the state’s diverse, far-flung population.

Fourteen presidential candidates flocked to the state last weekend to speak to the most fervent activists at the California Democratic Party’s convention, making their pitches on why they’re best poised to lead the party against President Donald Trump. But beyond the speeches and rallies, few of them seem to have figured out how to crack the political puzzle that is California, the nation’s most populous, and famously liberal, state. …

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