The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, ranked

The 2018 elections are in the books, and the 2020 election campaign begins very shortly. With dozens of Democrats interested, some have said they will make a decision by year’s end. That’s just a few weeks away.

What did the 2018 elections mean for 2020? It’s difficult to say. Had Democrats notched a more resounding success — with fewer Senate losses — the clear verdict would have been to stay the course and maybe go with a more traditional nominee. Those unhelpful losses, though, are likely to leave uncertainty about exactly what the party needs at the top of the ticket in 2020. If Democrats are still struggling to win Florida even in a good environment, for example, maybe that’s cause for concern.

So who leads the way? As I do every few months, here’s my latest list of the top 15 contenders.

5. Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.): Booker can be hugely impressive; he can also be over the top. And his performances during the Kavanaugh hearings trended toward the latter. A tip: It’s not an “I am Spartacus” moment if you have to call it an “I am Spartacus moment.” Not to focus too much on one moment, but this was a big and unforgettable one.

4. Former vice president Joe Biden: A recent CNN poll made Biden the big, early favorite for the Democratic nomination — 33 percent to 13 percent for Bernie Sanders — which is a bit surprising. Lots and lots of Democrats voted for Sanders in 2016, after all. I’m not convinced that Biden jumps in, and his track record as a presidential candidate isn’t good. But the stage is set.

3. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.): Perhaps nobody on this list has Harris’s upside — if she puts it all together — and that upside is worth a lot in what’s almost undoubtedly going to be such a crowded field.

2. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.): Sanders ran a somewhat sleepy reelection race (which was all that was required), and I keep half-expecting him to assert himself as a national leader of the Democrats — kind of how he attempted to during that tour with DNC Chairman Tom Perez. Maybe he recognizes that he doesn’t need all that, and he can just turn his base on the moment he starts running again. We’ll see.

1. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.): No, Warren’s disclosure of a DNA report showing very slight Native American ancestry didn’t exactly go swimmingly. But as a signal of her intent to run, it was as strong as anything. I’ve often felt that if she runs, she’s probably the favorite. She needed to get this out of the way, and she’s trying.

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