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The Dizzying Field Of Democrats Trying To Beat Trump In The U.S. Election

Donald Trump is up for re-election next year, and there's a massive group of challengers vying to be the one that gets to take him on -- and potentially wrestle the presidency from his hands.

The first debate of the Democratic primary season was held on Thursday in Miami, with a stacked panel of 10 candidates taking the stage.

But wait, that's not all. Another 10 will face off in a second debate on Friday.

But hold up again, that's not all -- there's even more of them who weren't invited to participate, because their polling numbers weren't high enough yet.

This is just the FIRST 10 candidates who were in the debate. Photo: Getty Images

That's more than two dozen people squabbling and scrabbling to get the opportunity to take on Trump in 2020, said to be the largest primary field in modern history.

Two soccer teams' worth of Democrats; a veritable busload; they'd need to call ahead and make a special booking if they all wanted to eat at a restaurant together.

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So why are there so many? And who are they, anyway? Which one is likely to win, and do they have any chance of beating Trump?

Here goes.

Why are there so many challengers?

America's presidential system isn't like ours, where only the leader of a political party can be prime minister or premier. Technically, anyone can throw their hats into the ring to run for president.

Trump himself famously wasn't elected to any office before winning the Republican nomination, and challengers in the Democratic field include state governors, local mayors, retired politicians, and even ordinary citizens.

Look at 'em all. Photo: Getty

There are, at time of writing, 26 people in the Democratic primaries -- they will participate in debates, run in state primary votes, and the one that gets the most votes will win the Democratic nomination for the presidential election.

They then going into another campaign against Trump directly.

Who is running in the Democratic primary?

Only 20 candidates were invited to the debates. Still a year-and-a-half until the November 2020 election, we're far out, and even though challengers drop off as the primary races heat up -- this is a wildly big field.

Many candidates are running on similar platforms, with support for raising wages, abolishing or reducing university fees, and backing the 'Green New Deal' concept on climate change action being common themes.

Here are some of the front-runners: some you've heard of, some you've never heard of but should know, and some you'll never hear of again.

Joe Biden

  • Former vice-president; the heavyweight of the field, leading the latest poll by a long way -- but scandals from his time in politics, stretching back to the 1970s, are resurfacing.
  • Has run for president twice before, in 1988 and 2008 -- he'll be 85 by the time his first term ends, if he wins the 2020 election.
  • Usually seen as a moderate, but claims he is the most progressive candidate: has announced a $1.7 trillion climate plan, wants to pass an Equality Act, and protect abortion rights.
Photo: Getty

Bernie Sanders

  • Main challenger to 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, the senator for Vermont is back for another go.
  • Raising massive amount of cash from small donors, ranks near the top in polls.
  • Considered a 'socialist' candidate: wants free college education and universal healthcare, backs the Green New Deal.

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Elizabeth Warren

  • Massachusetts senator and former law professor; encouraged to run in 2016 but threw support behind Clinton; ranks just behind Biden in recent polls.
  • Trump regularly attacks her, calling her 'Pocahantas', after she said she had Native American ancestry; she has backed impeaching him.
  • Calls herself progressive, but not socialist: she wants an 'ultra-millionaire tax' on people with more than $75m, backs raising the minimum wage, supports the Green New Deal, and wants universal healthcare.
  • Mocked for an awkward video in her kitchen, drinking a beer.

Tulsi Gabbard

  • Hawaiian congresswoman, former vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee; first Samoan-American and first Hindu elected to congress.
  • Currently serves as a major in the Hawaii National Guard, and deployed to Iraq and Kuwait during her service.
  • Scoring around three percent in polls, placing her in the top half; she backed Sanders in the 2016 race.
  • Supports decriminalising sex work and recreational marijuana, free college for people from middle- and low-income families, universal healthcare, and raising minimum wage
Photo: Getty

Kamala Harris

  • Californian senator and former state attorney-general, considered a Dem frontrunner since the 2016 election; runs fourth in latest polls.
  • Supports legalising recreational marijuana federally, universal healthcare, and the Green New Deal; wants lower taxes on middle-class, higher taxes on rich.
  • Would be the first African-American woman to win nomination for either major party.
Photo: Getty

Cory Booker

  • First African-American elected to represent New Jersey in the Senate; high-profile Trump critic, but well back in the polls.
  • Condemned the 'war on drugs' as a "failure", wants to decriminalise marijuana, wants to raise minimum wages and enact tougher gun control.
  • He's a vegan.

Beto O'Rourke

  • Texas congressman, came to national attention for his (unsuccessful) campaign to win Ted Cruz's Senate seat.
  • Loves standing on tables, for some reason.
  • Speaks Spanish, leading to this fantastic moment in Thursday's debate.

Pete Buttigieg

  • Mayor of South Bend, Indiana -- so this is a big step up.
  • Pronounces surname "BOOT-edge-edge".
  • Bold policy plans; wants to abolish America's controversial electoral college, universal healthcare, raise minimum wage, pass a federal law banning discrimination against LGBTQ people, strict background checks for buying firearms, eliminating the death penalty.
  • Afghanistan war veteran, and the first openly gay Democratic candidate.
Photo: Getty

Contact the author jobutler@networkten.com.au