Less-experienced Democrats still must demonstrate presidential gravitas. But social media has magnified their opportunity to do so quickly and inexpensively.
The party's ideological diversity has shrunk nearly as much as its demographic diversity has grown. In particular, divides on social issues have all but disappeared amid revolutionary changes in public sentiment.
The result: a sprawling field of two-dozen prospects that ranges from 77-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders to 37-year-old Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard's gender and Samoan-American ethnicity matter less than her past opposition to gay rights, which she renounced in a video this week.
The 2020 race may test one more boundary. Pete Buttigieg, a 36-year-old Afghanistan war vet who is now mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is considering becoming the first openly gay candidate to seek the White House.
"Of the negatives he has, I don't think being gay is the biggest," says Hilary Rosen, a long-time Democratic strategist who herself is gay. Rosen points instead to competition from other "outsider" candidates not now serving in Washington.
Whether or not Buttigieg runs, Democratic voters have begun preparing the ground on sexual orientation, too.
Since 2012, they've elected the first openly-gay U.S. senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and governor, Jared Polis of Colorado. They've also elected the first openly-bisexual politicians to both offices – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon.