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Second Democratic Senator To Announce She’s Running. The Numbers Suggest She Shouldn’t.

A second Democratic senator is set to announce her candidacy in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic presidential field for 2020. Just over two weeks after Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced that she is throwing her hat in the ring for the chance to grapple with her trolling nemesis Donald Trump, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is reportedly planning to to announce her presidential exploratory committee on “Late Night With Stephen Colbert” Tuesday.

Citing people “familiar with her planning,” CBS News reported Monday that Gillibrand is expected to be the second senator, “and second female senator,” to announce her run Tuesday night. “The 52-year old is one of the most active and outspoken critics of President Trump and she earned acclaim from party activists when she began voting against all of the president’s cabinet and senior government nominees in early 2017,” CBS underscores.

Gillibrand will be the second senator to announce, but she’ll be the third Democrat to do so. Former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro announced he was running this weekend, while Hawaii’s Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also revealed this weekend that she’s likely planning to run. New Jersey’s Sen. Cory Booker is also expected to give it a go.

Gillibrand’s decision to jump into the fray doesn’t appear to be prompted by public polling. While polling this early on shouldn’t necessarily determine a candidate’s decision, most polls thus far indicate that she’s a long shot at best. Recent polls of Democratic voters continue to show former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) as the top contenders. Gillibrand usually appears near the bottom of the list.

The New York senator didn’t even make the cut in a USA Today/Suffolk University Poll conducted in late December on Democrats’ excitement over top contenders, while a CNN poll published in mid-December showed Gillibrand getting just 1% of the Democratic vote (Biden got 30%, Sanders 14%, O’Rourke 9%, Booker 5%, Harris 4%, and Warren 3%; full results below).

The results of the CNN poll famously earned Gillibrand’s attention. Asked by CNN host Van Jones if she found the poll’s results troubling, given the white male identity of the top three potential candidates, Gillibrand said, “Yes.”

“I aspire for our country to recognize the beauty of our diversity at some point in the future and I hope someday we have a woman president,” she explained in an exchange reported by The Hill. “I love the fact that Barack Obama was our president for eight years. I hope more people of color not only aspire [but] win the presidency because that’s what makes America so extraordinary, that we are all of that, we are everything, and I think a more inclusive America is a stronger America.”

Gillibrand’s fellow senator Warren’s big announcement has been met with mostly skeptical responses, including from The New York Times and The Boston Globe. “While Ms. Warren’s stinging attacks on Mr. Trump and Wall Street have helped make her a favorite of grass-roots liberals, she also faces challenges as a presidential candidate: controversy over a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage, skepticism from the party establishment and a lack of experience in a national race,” the Times reported after her New Year’s Eve announcement. The Boston Globe editorial board, meanwhile, preemptively urged the Massachusetts senator not to run in large part because of her “divisive” DNA test fiasco.

Here are the full results of CNN’s December poll that had Gillibrand so “concerned”:

  • Joe Biden 30%
  • Bernie Sanders 14%
  • Beto O’Rourke 9%
  • Cory Booker 5%
  • Kamala Harris 4%
  • John Kerry 4%
  • Elizabeth Warren 3%
  • Michael Bloomberg 3%
  • Amy Klobuchar 3%
  • Eric Holder 1%
  • Kirsten Gillibrand 1%
  • Steve Bullock 1%
  • Sherrod Brown 1%
  • Jay Inslee 1%
  • Terry McAuliffe 1%
  • Eric Garcetti 1%
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