The election is about to shift into a higher gear with the start of the new year, and an assessment at Politico asserts that Bernie Sanders is looking stronger than expected as a candidate. The old thinking was that he would have a core of progressive supporters, but not enough widespread support to take the nomination, especially with Elizabeth Warren in the mix. "But in the past few weeks, something has changed," write Holly Otterbein and David Siders. "In private conversations and on social media, Democratic officials, political operatives, and pundits are reconsidering Sanders' chances." More on that and related coverage:
- Big momentum: Sanders has shown durability, even bouncing back from a heart attack, while Warren has been generally slipping in the polls of late, per Politico. Don't underestimate him, advises former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer. "He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada," says Pfeiffer. "He could build a real head of steam heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday."
- Biden's strength? The New York Times has an analysis on Joe Biden suggesting that one of his key strengths is that he might draw the votes of moderate Republicans—or as the story puts it, "the reasonable Republican dad" who won't vote for President Trump. The logic, as laid out by Katie Glueck: Biden "shuns far-reaching proposals like 'Medicare for all'; he has a history of working with Republicans; his warm personal style is disarming; and he represents a return to what some moderates view as a more stable era."
- 2 in charge: At Progress Pond, Martin Longman writes that Biden and Sanders are the two big forces in this contest. "It will be extremely hard for anyone else to win a majority of the delegates so long as both Biden and Sanders remain in the race and gathering delegates in every contest," he writes. "If someone can repeatedly come in first place, they might be able to pull it off, but a plurality might be the best an inconsistent winner can do, and that would send the decision to the floor of the convention."
- Klobuchar: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar "is having a moment," writes Susan Milligan of US News & World Report. Klobuchar did well in the last debate, and Milligan makes the case that she's on the upswing at just the right moment. But before Klobuchar advocates get too excited, Matthew Rozsa at Salon makes the case that pundits are exaggerating what's going on here. "There is little polling evidence, either nationally or in the crucial early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, to suggest that Klobuchar has made significant headway with voters."
- Old school: NBC News reports that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is putting big money into billboards and lawn signs in the early primary states, making her unique among the Democratic candidates. Gabbard has spent nearly $700,000 on the physical signs, while no other candidate besides Tom Steyer seems to have even listed billboards as a campaign expenditure.
(Barack Obama has reportedly been praising Warren
in closed-door meetings with wealthy donors.)