Why The View Is Must-See TV for 2020

Trump once disparaged the talk show as a “total disaster.” Now it’s a crucial stop on both sides of the 2020 bandwagon.

Sen. Bernie Sanders appears with cohost Joy Behar on "The View."
ABC/Lou Rocco
Dec. 3, 2018, 8 p.m.

Just three days after the midterms, a panel of high-powered women convened to discuss the presidential election in 2020, and specifically, who is best suited to run in the Democratic primary against President Trump.

“The only person that really has a shot is Joe Biden,” said Abby Huntsman, a former Fox & Friends cohost who joined the daytime television show The View in September.

“I think the Democrats are going to come to their senses and nominate Joe Biden,” said Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and frequent Trump critic.

“I say Joe Biden because Biden can appeal to blue-collar,” added comedian Joy Behar, a long-standing Democrat. “Everybody likes Joe Biden.”

The discussion occupied one “hot topics” segment of the show's daily programming. But Biden and a slew of other top Democrats and Republicans have been on the hosts’ minds for months—and several 2020 contenders have made a pilgrimage to their set.

The former vice president appeared on the show twice last year, most memorably in December, when he shared an emotional exchange with conservative commentator and cohost Meghan McCain while her father, the late Sen. John McCain, battled glioblastoma, the same disease that took Biden’s son Beau’s life in 2015.

“You may remember when you were a little kid, your dad took care of my Beau,” Biden said to McCain, who was visibly upset. “And Beau talked about your dad’s courage—not about illness, but about his courage.”

An appearance on The View is unlikely to boost the name recognition of Biden, whose high polling numbers reflect his near-universal visibility. But he will have to compete with newer Democratic candidates who may benefit from the daytime exposure if he decides to enter the race.

“Anybody who’s anybody who wants to make it to the next level in politics has to come on this show,” McCain said in a promotional ad that ran in November.

Her statement could apply nicely to a younger Democrat like Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California who said she expects to decide on a presidential run over the holidays.

“The bookies are saying 6-to-1 that Kamala Harris will be the Democratic nominee,” attorney Sunny Hostin, who’s been a permanent cohost since 2016, said to loud audience applause on the Nov. 9 segment.

But she offered some caution: “I think she is uberly qualified, but after seeing the misogyny and the sexism with Hillary Clinton, after seeing the racism that was unearthed with President Obama, I can’t imagine that this country is ready for a black female president.”

While Harris has yet to visit the show, over a dozen potential 2020 candidates have been on in the past two years. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand are tied for the most appearances among those thought to be considering presidential bids, each frequenting the show three times. Sanders, who visited in 2016 after running against Clinton, has appeared once a year since then.

“I would not be honest with you if I did not say that I am thinking of that," Sanders said last month while promoting his new book, Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance.

Gillibrand, whose face time ramped up in 2017 and 2018, grabbed the most attention for saying, “I’m thinking about it.”

Just three days prior, Gillibrand test-ran similar comments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, telling his audience, “I promise you I will give it a long hard thought of consideration.” While she had previously dodged all questions about 2020, the senator’s follow-up comments on The View solidified to women, her core advocacy group, that she’s seriously contemplating a candidacy.

Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar have also enjoyed applause from the studio audience when asked about their presidential aspirations on the program, while former Secretary of State John Kerry, like Biden, provided temporary nostalgia for viewers longing for the Obama administration.

On Monday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who reregistered as a Democrat, will join the show, National Journal has learned.

But not every political star is guaranteed. “We had several invitations from The View during the course of the Senate campaign and in the days following the election,” said an aide to Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who became a national sensation in narrowly losing his Senate challenge to Ted Cruz in Texas. “There aren't currently any plans to make an appearance.”

The program, which airs daily from 11 a.m. to noon on ABC, features an all-female panel, including Behar, Hostin, Huntsman, McCain, and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, along with Navarro on Fridays. It’s targeted primarily to women, a voting bloc central to Democrats’ successes in 2018. Ahead of the midterms, the program announced a partnership with TurboVote for a promotion, “Vote Your View,” in which speakers shared memories about voting. On the week of Nov. 19, the show had 2.8 million views, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Recalibrating for 2020, potential candidates have already started courting female voters. In 2016, Trump won 52 percent of support from white women. But he earned only a quarter of the vote among Hispanic women and only 4 percent of support among black women.

Perhaps eyeing that number, and Democrats’ massive edge among women voters in the midterm elections, some Republicans in the president’s orbit and those poised to challenge him have angled for time.

Among potential rivals, Sen. Jeff Flake used one of his two segments in the past two years to discuss his thinking on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, while Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska talked about the same topic on a separate occasion. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the loudest Trump antagonist of the three, said, “All of my options are on the table,” during his second stint on the show since running against Trump in 2016.

Meanwhile, others have been on to promote the president’s talking points. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and counselor Kellyanne Conway have frequented the show, as well as one of Vice President Mike Pence’s daughters, Charlotte.

“If you’re a Republican and you wanna make news, come on this show,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, another guest.

In 22 seasons, The View has had 22 permanent cohosts, including broadcast journalist Barbara Walters, who conceived the program in 1997 alongside fellow on-air journalist Meredith Vieira, attorney Star Jones, and television host Debbie Matenopoulos.

On multiple occasions, the ongoing shuffle of panelists caught the attention of Trump, who tweeted in 2015, “I have been a guest on The View many times when it was successful show. Now the show is dying for lack of ratings. Too bad!” He continued the following year: “Explain how the women on The View, which is a total disaster since the great Barbara Walters left, ever got their jobs. @ABC is wasting time.”

But recent ratings indicate otherwise. The week after the midterms in November, The View had its strongest performance among 25-to-54-year-old women in seven months.

“People need to hear what women have to say, and that’s us,” Behar said.

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