Montana Governor Steve Bullock declared himself a candidate for President last Tuesday, followed two days later by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. That makes two dozen significant Democratic contenders, more or less, depending on how you define “significant.”

Bullock and de Blasio were the final two likely entrants to make their decisions public, with the possible exception of Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, who has said that she won’t decide until late summer or fall.

They join, in alphabetical order: Colorado Senator Michael Bennet; former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Senator Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former cabinet secretary Julian Castro of Texas; former Maryland Congressman John Delaney; Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; California Senator Kamala Harris; former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper; Washington State Governor Jay Inslee; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton; former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke; Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; California Congressman Eric Swalwell; Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren; author Marianne Williamson; and businessman Andrew Yang.

At last, after a seemingly constant barrage of new entrants, the field is set for the near future—just as we approach Memorial Day, when the American public typically tunes out from national politics for the summer.
Here, then, are a few observations on the dynamics of the race.

1. Who gets taken seriously

Of the two newest candidates, de Blasio might seem to have the more obvious claim to be taken seriously. The city he runs has eight times the population of Bullock’s state of Montana. He is far better known nationally, and holds stronger liberal credentials.

Yet the political chattering class, in the media and Democratic party circles, are laughing off de Blasio while conferring legitimacy upon Bullock.

Rolling Stone’s updated rankings, for example, place de Blasio dead last out of 24 listed candidates, while putting Bullock 14th and noting he “could be a 2020 dark horse.”

The difference might lie partly in over-familiarity. Just as pols’ home-state constituents often have trouble, initially, viewing them as potential Presidents, the Big Apple-centric punditry can’t see de Blasio with fresh eyes.
But mostly it’s a matter of preparation.

Bullock, who has been planning this campaign for at least a year, has carefully crafted a narrative of a successful red-state Democrat who can win back important rural and working-class voters. He has developed national surrogates, and a campaign-in-waiting on the ground in Iowa. And he has made sure those insiders were aware of it all.

As for de Blasio, his campaign seems to have been born this spring, from a snitty annoyance at the success of a mayor from tiny little South Bend, Indiana.

It’s a very New York justification for action, to be sure—but, there’s a reason that so many people outside New York don’t like New Yorkers.

2. Populists?

The Democratic field is — in many ways — a diverse crowd, offering a little something for most voters to identify and connect with.

Just under half are straight, white, married Christian men—over-representative of the general public, yes, but not nearly as predominant as in any previous major-party Presidential nominating contest.

And, while as a whole certainly an upper-class gathering—as one would expect at the elite level of most fields—they are not the mega-rich. Their estimated wealth ranges from net-negative Swalwell, whose student loans have him in ,well, the red; to former businessman John Delaney, self-funding his campaign from a self-made fortune estimated at close to $100 million.

There is one thing missing, though: crash-the-gates populist political outsiders.

All but two of the 24—author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang—have held elected office, almost all in Congress or in statewide office, and most for at least 10 years.

The few who haven’t served in Washington are inside players in national political networks. Governors Steve Bullock and John Hickenlooper have both chaired the National Governor’s Association; Governor Jay Inslee chaired the Democratic Governor’s Association; and Mayor Pete Buttigieg ran for, and nearly became, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Though some had hardscrabble backgrounds, most attended elite educational institutions. Of the 24, 11 have at least one degree from an Ivy League school. At least seven attended prep schools.

3. Granite-State-full-employment program

“I have not run into any other staff at any Dunks yet,” a New Hampshire staffer for a 2020 campaign texts me, quipping that it “is a clear indicator we’re not at saturation.”

It’s only a matter of time. By autumn, dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, will be getting paid for campaign work in the Granite State, home of the country’s first Presidential primary.

Officially, the 24 Democratic Presidential campaigns are collectively employing roughly 50 staffers in the state. There are more, though; some unannounced, others not yet on the books, some just making part-time money for organizing work.

For example, just five staffers on Warren’s New Hampshire campaign have been publicly reported, but at least 20 can be identified on Twitter and other social media.

The general consensus is that Booker, Sanders, and Warren are the best organized in the state so far.

Booker, whose New Hampshire campaign had its first “day of action” canvassing doors this weekend, has already opened offices in Manchester and Nashua. By the end of this month, they will have close to two dozen people on the payroll in the state, according to New Hampshire communications director Chris Moyer.
Sanders has announced only four New Hampshire staffers, but retains much of the grassroots organization that helped him win the 2016 primary.

Others are hiring quickly. Biden’s late-starting campaign already has five full-time staff there. O’Rourke, who entered the race late and has been a bit slow to get all the pieces in place, has the money and intention to build a sizable operation.

Buttigieg, whose campaign didn’t anticipate its recent flurry of attention and funding, also plans a big presence. “We are working to mobilize this tremendous energy by building a volunteer-led, grassroots campaign that will be one of the biggest and most robust organizing efforts New Hampshire has ever seen," says Kevin Donohoe, the New Hampshire communications director for Buttigieg.

4. Waiting for a chance

It’s tough for a candidate to stand out and get attention in a field of 24. One way is to make sure you’re known for a particular issue, and hope that something shoves that issue into the spotlight.

That paid off for Gillibrand this past week.

When Alabama passed a very restrictive abortion law—just after Georgia and just before Missouri advanced other versions—all the candidates responded in some way. But Gillibrand, who has branded herself as the unapologetic candidate of so-called “women’s issues,” was most aggressive, even changing her schedule to fly to Georgia. News media sought her out for air time.

Seth Moulton got a smaller taste of that: as the self-branded foreign policy and national security candidate, he was interviewed on national TV several times as Iran tensions heated up.

Whether Gillibrand or Moulton see a bump in polling from the exposure remains to be seen. But, when you’re barely registering in those polls to begin with, there’s nowhere to go but up.

5. Building social presence

The latest entrants to the Presidential race are also well behind most of the others in their footprint on social media.Some of the candidates have been building a following for years, on non-government accounts that could roll forward into the Presidential campaign.

Others are trying to build pretty much from scratch.

Sanders leads the field, with more than nine million Twitter followers and three million on Instagram. Booker, Biden, Harris, and Warren are in the next tier—along with Williamson, whose non-political following remains a wild card. Both O’Rourke and Buttigieg have joined Gillibrand over the million-follower mark on Twitter. They both have surpassed a half-million on Instagram—well ahead of Gillibrand on that platform.

Few of the candidates have built a YouTube following, however—despite it becoming a go-to source for younger voters. Sanders has 186,000 subscribers there; Gabbard, Williamson, and Yang have around 40,000 to 50,000 each; and none of the others have more than 5,000.