There’s no denying entertainment’s impact on American political figures. Specifically, the way in which TV comedies (most notably Saturday Night Live) caricature political candidates can have a lasting effect. Many people in younger generations remember Will Ferrell’s take on George W. Bush about as well as they remember Bush himself; SNL’s Kate McKinnon effectively catapulted her own career with a recurring portrayal of Hilary Clinton; Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump was the biggest thing on TV until it grew somewhat stale; and it’s been argued that Tina Fey may have swung the 2008 election with her pitch-perfect lambasting of then-Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Now, we’re gearing up for another presidential election. Though Americans won’t head to the polls until November of 2020, the first debates of the Democratic primaries are being held this month, and from there it’s off to the races. We assume Baldwin will be back on SNL as Trump (he says he’s done, but he’s said that before). But who should play top Democrats on TV?
We have a few ideas….
Joe Biden – Jason Sudeikis
Jason Sudeikis seems to be one of the more fun-loving cast members SNL has had in recent memory, and has made a relatively big name for himself beyond the show as well. Given that he’s played Biden in the past and returned in the spring to play the former vice president and current Democratic frontrunner, he’s probably the no-brainer choice. That said, if SNL really wanted to get creative, an aged-up Will Ferrell could make for an interesting Biden as well.
Bernie Sanders – Larry David
Due respect to McKinnon’s beloved Clinton character, Larry David’s Bernie Sanders was the real gem of the 2016 election cycle. Whether on his own platforms, as a guest on SNL, or simply wherever he’s needed on TV, David should be feeling the Bern again this time around. It’s too good a fit not to happen.
Kamala Harris – Maya Rudolph
Kamala Harris isn’t quite as recognizable as Biden or Sanders just yet, but she’s consistently been among the favorites in the early betting on the 2020 election. With strong campaigning skills and a good shot at winning her own, massive state of California, she’s a heavyweight in the crowded Democratic field. That means she’ll be in the mix for a while, and accordingly we’d bet on a major SNL figure – in this case, Maya Rudolph – taking on the part. Yes, Rudolph happens to be the program’s most prominent African-American alumna, but she also does a tremendous job with everything she touches and would do the same handling one of the candidates, in Harris, who isn’t necessarily easy or obvious to parody.
Elizabeth Warren – Kate McKinnon
McKinnon has already handled the role of Elizabeth Warren, and with Clinton not in the mix this time, it seems likely that this will be her job this time around. Warren started off the early primary season playing from behind somewhat, but has enjoyed a surge in the polls of late and seems to be earning a great deal of media attention. That is to say, the Massachusetts senator may be around for a while, which only makes it more likely that SNL will turn to one of its most well-regarded talents for the role. Perhaps more than any other suggestion on this list, McKinnon-as-Warren seems like a shoe-in.
Pete Buttigieg – Pete Davidson
“Mayor Pete” out of South Bend, Indiana, has been the biggest surprise of the primary season so far. Evolving quickly from an unknown on the national stage to someone who occasionally polls over 10% in a field of more than 20 candidates, Buttigieg has become a big enough deal to earn some TV impersonations, and could even be in it for the long haul. He’s actually very difficult to think of a good match for, but calling in Pete Davidson wouldn’t be a bad move. It’s not that they look alike – at all – but there’s a certain boyishness to Buttigieg (he plays it up himself by constantly emphasizing his youth), and Davidson could match it.
Beto O’Rourke – Jim Carrey
Despite being one of the younger and less experienced candidates on the Democratic side, Beto O’Rourke made a name for himself in a high-profile Senate campaign against Ted Cruz. For this reason, he’s already a big enough deal that Jimmy Fallon has impersonated him. Fallon will likely try to hold onto the role if O’Rourke sticks around for a while, but the wildcard we’d like to see is Jim Carrey. The reasoning is strange, but it basically comes down to physical length and elasticity. O’Rourke is tall, long, and very active with his arms, and on top of it all has already become infamous for standing on absolutely anything and everything while giving speeches on the campaign trail. It’s no insult to O’Rourke, who tends to present himself very well, but there’s some physical comedy to be had with his campaigning style – and the ever-gangly, ever-animated Carrey could nail it.