For the most part?
The race is between two guys….
Bernie Sanders finds himself in the same place he was 4 years ago…
Second place behind an establishment leader…
The Hill’s view below….
The battle for the Democratic nomination is nearing crunch time with roughly one month left before the Iowa caucuses.
Who has the best chance of winning the nomination?
1. Former Vice President Joe Biden (July ranking: 2)
Biden has led national polls since he launched his campaign in April.
His advantage has eroded since then but it is still significant. The former vice president is roughly 10 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in the polling averages of both RealClearPolitics (RCP) and data site FiveThirtyEight.
Biden’s support has proven more resilient than many observers predicted, despite halting debate performances, attacks from rivals and smears from President Trump.
There are at least three pillars buttressing Biden’s candidacy.
First and more important, he is way ahead of his rivals in terms of black support.
Second, polls from battleground states have helped him make the case that he is the best person to take on Trump.
And third, Biden’s long career and centrist ideology appear to have a comforting appeal to voters who are tired of the never-ending dramas of the Trump era.
Biden has serious challenges, too.
He is trailing in polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. If he finishes off the pace in both states, what will happen to his argument about electability?
It’s also plausible that part of Biden’s appeal lies in name recognition — and that this advantage will be eroded as Democratic voters who are not political obsessives tune into the race in coming weeks.
Biden is a relatively weak frontrunner. But he is the frontrunner nonetheless.
2. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (July ranking: 4)
When Sanders had a heart attack in October, it could have spelled disaster for a candidacy that was already in danger of being eclipsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
But Sanders bounced back with vigor, delivering an impressive debate performance in Ohio, his first major appearance after his heart attack, while Warren has faltered.
Sanders’ candidacy also got a positive jolt when progressive icon Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed him. The 30-year-old congresswoman has appeared with the 78-year-old senator at several rallies, helping him draw huge crowds.
The passion of Sanders’ supporters is also evident in his fundraising numbers.
When the last quarter ended, he had more cash on hand — $33.7 million — than any other candidate in the field. It is easy to imagine him holding on to top spot in the money race when new financial filings come out soon, covering the last three months of 2019.
Sanders is narrowly leading in the polling averages in New Hampshire, the second state to vote. In Iowa, he is right on the heels of South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).
Sanders has his vulnerabilities, too. Ill-feeling lingers in some quarters of the party from his long 2016 campaign against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. Centrists frequently voice fears that he could be too far to the left for the nation at large.
Even if Sanders won both Iowa and New Hampshire, the party establishment would almost certainly try to block his path to the nomination….