2008 Race Rankings: The Clinton Scrutiny Continues

Another two weeks, another impressive navigation through ever-trickier waters. Hillary Rodham Clinton now has nine serious opponents -- four on the Democratic side (only Bill Richardson isn't making a compelling case against her right now) and five on the Republican side (counting Mike Huckabee).

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

1. Hillary Clinton -- Iowa's a problem and the campaign knows it; reinforcements are coming in whether the Clinton folks already in Iowa like it or not (parsethis sentence out and start chasing the internal-strife story). By the way, ponder this: If Clinton knew then what she knows now regarding that silly Iran vote, how would she have voted? The campaign may hate us for tossing that line of thinking out here, but come on -- they've been SO careful regarding the war to date; they would NEVER have intentionally caused themselves this problem. This wasn't a "shift" from the primary to the general; this was simply a vote Clinton didn't think was going to be a big deal and she voted her gut. Almanac Profile

2. Barack Obama -- Even the candidate senses the urgency. He's got two things on his side: Iowa and the media. Clinton is nowhere near closing the sale in Iowa. If anything, there's some evidence that she's stagnating or even dropping a tad (if one believes a couple of internal polls). And the media still wants a race. The good news for Obama is that he's slipping so much in the "perception primary" that maybe he doesn't have to be the second coming of JFK on the stump these days -- just something a little north of Gary Hart will get him decent press. Almanac Profile

3. John Edwards -- No campaign is more frustrated with the press than this one. No matter what the campaign does, when they do it or how they do it, the mainstream media want to frame this race as Clinton vs. Obama. For now, the Edwards folks believe if they scream loud enough, eventually the MSM will change that dynamic; we'll see. There's another option: Go after Obama while he's weak and remove the obstacle. That apparently isn'ton the table because they don't think it gets them anything. But what ought to scare both Clinton and Obama is that Edwards isn't getting the scrutiny they are, and if he eventually pops after Iowa, he's going to be harder to stop.

Continue reading our 2008 race rankings.