RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Some of the big 2018 elections are still too close to call. But dozens of Democrats are already making plans for the presidential election that is two years away. We're hearing that their decisions are coming soon.
In conversations with NPR, advisers to several of the likely top candidates say they'll have to figure out if they are in or if they are out between Thanksgiving and New Year's. And if you haven't realized it yet, Thanksgiving is next week. NPR's Scott Detrow has been reporting on this and joins us now in the studio. Hey, Scott.
SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.
MARTIN: All right. So we've heard a lot about a lot of big names for a while now - Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden. The list is so long. What's the deal - they running, they not running?
DETROW: Well, all of these people have been taking a lot of steps to run for president. You've seen a lot of that publicly. They were all all over the country campaigning for Democrats, not only doing that but also working on connections in these key early primary states that they would need.
DETROW: A lot of their advisers are out doing job interviews, tentative job interviews with candidates, scouting out headquarters, taking all these steps. But in the end, this comes down to a key personal decision. And none of these top-tier candidates, according to all the interviews that we've been doing - none of them have made that final decision yet. They're all basically in the same place as former Vice President Joe Biden.
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JOE BIDEN: So I don't know. I don't know. And I still don't know. I have to make my decision what I'm going to do after the first of the year. It will be a family decision. And we have time.
DETROW: So Biden's saying New Year's is his timeline. But a lot of candidates - it's sooner, as early as Thanksgiving. Basically, a lot of big decisions will be made over the next couple weeks.
MARTIN: And we should mention there are already a couple of Democrats who have officially thrown their hat into the ring, right?
DETROW: Yes. Maryland Congressman John Delaney has been running in Iowa for a year already. And Richard Ojeda, a West Virginia state senator, lost a high-profile race for Congress last week. That didn't stop him from already launching a presidential campaign.
MARTIN: There's been some reporting out there that Hillary Clinton is mulling over a possible run. Have you heard anything about that?
DETROW: Saying this, talking to nine different campaigns, talking to other Democrats, her name did not come up once.
MARTIN: So Democrats obviously won big in the midterms. How are those results informing how possible 2020 presidential candidates are thinking about that run?
DETROW: I think one sign of the confidence that Democrats have at their ability to beat President Trump is the fact that you're going to see so many people running - like, maybe close to 20 candidates.
DETROW: The second and third and fourth takeaways that all these Democrats had from Tuesday's results were very different. But it was notable that every single one of them had the first main conclusion. And that was looking right to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and also Ohio. These are the states that made Donald Trump president. A lot of Democrats echoed what Bernie Sanders told NPR.
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BERNIE SANDERS: Three out of four of those states elected Democratic governors, and all four of those states elected Democratic United States senators. So I think Trump's victories in those states, the very important states, may not be longstanding.
DETROW: Democrats saying this is someone who lost the popular vote, won by about a 80,000-vote margin in key states - they feel like four years into a Trump presidency, they'll have a pretty easy path.
MARTIN: So, obviously, Democrats thought they were well positioned to win in 2016, right? They thought they were well-positioned to win in a big way.
DETROW: Yes. Yes.
MARTIN: And we know how that went down. So even if they believe Donald Trump is vulnerable, do they know how to beat him? Do they think they know?
DETROW: And it's worth pointing out Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, both lost in huge margins in their first midterms and then won pretty easy second terms. So this is not indicative of anything. I mean, there's always a path. I think the key decision that these Democrats have to make is what the strategy is. And that's where there's mixed results from Tuesday.
Some of these camps are saying it's all about being as progressive as possible. We almost won Georgia. We almost won Texas by leaning into progressive approaches. And more moderate Democrats, Democrats not based in Washington right now, are saying it's all about being moderate and presenting an open style that's really welcoming to independents and Republican voters.
MARTIN: NPR's Scott Detrow for us, thanks so much.
DETROW: Thank you.
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