NBC News political director Chuck Todd and I present our final Democratic rankings for August.
Hillary Rodham Clinton's command of the field is holding even as Barack Obama confronts her worldview and John Edwards gets angrier and angrier. There are signs, however, that some flux is right around the corner.
These rankings are ordered by likelihood of winning the Democratic Party primary and are based on a number of factors, including organization, money, buzz and polling. Click here for Republican
Number 1 -- Hillary Clinton -- They'll never admit that their dust-up with Obama over meeting with rogue leaders was a minor setback. That said, a day doesn't go by that she doesn't look like a stronger general election candidate, mainly because of how she's always got her eye on the general when answering debate questions like the one in question. No member of the C.W. chattering class believed she'd be this strong in general election matchups this early in the process. She seems more unbeatable every day, which is why you should expect both Obama and Edwards to stop mincing words and take near-daily shots at the front-runner. She's on such a roll right now, one can't help but wonder if she's peaking too soon. Almanac Profile
2. Barack Obama -- The Clinton folks are convinced that the Obama campaign knows he made two gaffes in the last two weeks, but because they feared the "inexperienced" tag might take hold, they had no choice but to stand their ground based on what he said. We'll never know who's right, but the Obama camp does deserve credit for not being shy about taking on the Georgetown set on issues of foreign affairs. Six months ago, we thought Obama was dying to win the Georgetown primary; now, clearly, he doesn't care. And the recent Post-ABC poll showing him tied for the lead in Iowa shows that the campaign's early TV advertising may be having a desired effect.
3. John Edwards -- Meet Mr. Angry! He's not going to take it any more! Edwards gets better every day in the role of angry populist, but we can't help but wonder if eventually his "no more Mr. nice guy" routine is going to rub Iowa voters the wrong way. Edwards' strength in '04 was that everyone seemed to like the guy. Usually, voters don't like angry populists; they may respect them, but like? Not usually. Still, Edwards needs to keep the hot rhetoric up if only to make sure the press doesn't get too carried away with Clinton v. Obama. The real loser out of the Clinton-Obama spatwas Edwards. It showed how easily he could be ignored.
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