Folks, it’s Friday, and as sure as that means a 5 p.m. news dump that will ruin — or enliven — your happy hour, it also heralds a new installment of the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking, helmed this week by yours truly, Greg Sargent. (You may have seen my colleagues introduce me last week as a “progressive brawler," which I think they meant as a compliment, though I can’t be sure.)

That’s right, your esteemed Ranking Committee here toiled day and night, confabbing at length from mid-Thursday to late-mid-Thursday to bring you an updated list of the 15 most viable challengers to President Trump. Let’s get to it — but not before you pick my brain:

The Commentary

In our brave new Twitter-fueled political world, the already hyper-engaged presidential politics has been turbocharged even more by the widespread desire to see Donald Trump dethroned, and an interesting dual effect has taken hold.

On the one hand, the pace of politics has become so frenzied you can miss an entire news cycle if you turn away from social media for a half-hour. On the other hand, the presidential election seems to have already intensified (Why else would we be here?) nearly two years before Election Day — meaning the political seasons are longer than ever.

Thus it is that we are already entering the phase in which many of the presidential candidates are getting hit by the first big round of dirt dumps, even though the first primary voting is a year away.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) hasn’t even declared yet, but HuffPost recently reported that multiple former staffers say she is monstrously abusive to her underlings. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) is fending off newly unearthed examples from many years ago of her unsightly tendency to identify herself as a Native American on professional documents. And Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), not to be outdone, is battling revelations about a decade-old program that raises questions about her heavy-handed approach to criminal-justice issues. Video also surfaced that showed Harris in 2010 making light of objections to that approach.

Their responses to these controversies vary. Klobuchar’s pre-campaign didn’t respond directly to allegations of her abusiveness toward staff, instead asserting that she “loves” former staffers and directing reporters to people who vouched for her as a boss. You’ll see below that many on the Ranking Committee must think there’s no there there; Klobuchar, who’s making a “big announcement” Sunday, soared.

Warren spoke extemporaneously to the underlying seriousness of the issues raised by her claims to Native American heritage, apologizing profusely for trampling on tribal sovereignty. Our rankers didn’t buy this one. Spoiler alert: Warren tanked.

And Harris’s campaign, perhaps perceiving a serious threat in revelations demonstrating her law-and-order prosecutor past to be out of touch with a new generation of young racial-justice activists, has pleaded for a much more nuanced understanding of her record, one that recognizes areas in which she pushed for reform.

Whatever the importance of each of these particular revelations, they all provide an early stress test of how the candidates will fare under the most invasive scrutiny of any job application process on the planet. We talk a lot about the candidates’ “electability,” but the truth is that it’s impossible to predict how any 2020 hopeful will handle the relentless glare.

But one thing is clear: Given how wide-open the challenger field is, and given the massive ideological stakes many leftists and liberals perceive to be on the line in this contest, there is little doubt the flame wars will be more ferocious than ever. And there are only 20 months to go!

— Greg Sargent

The Ranking

Change Over Last Ranking
Kamala D. Harris
Amy Klobuchar
UP 5
Joe Biden
Sherrod Brown
Cory Booker
UP 3
Elizabeth Warren
Beto O’Rourke
Bernie Sanders
Kirsten Gillibrand
Michael Bloomberg
Howard Schultz
John Hickenlooper
Oprah Winfrey
UP 2
Julián Castro
Stacey Abrams

Falls off ranking: Pete Buttigieg

Also receiving votes: Michael Bennet, Mitch Landrieu, Nikki M. Haley, Terry McAuliffe

Don’t forget to click on the yellow highlighted text above to expand the Ranking Committee’s annotations. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, fingers crossed no dirt gets dumped on you.

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