The shift toward an increasingly open, early presidential primary is exemplified by uncharacteristically brazen campaigning by top-tier contenders, more than a year ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Informed not only by Trump, but by the potent, small-dollar operation built by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2016, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) have spent months cultivating lists of small donors on highly public social media channels, while promoting themselves on TV.
In the process, they have pulled back the curtain — or removed it entirely — from a critical stage in the nomination process.
“Nothing’s invisible now,” said Paul Maslin, a top Democratic pollster who worked on the presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Howard Dean. “This notion that if you got the endorsements and you got the money and played your cards right, you became the de-facto choice of the party, whatever that means … Trump blew all that up. That’s all out the window now.”