(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

I’m Hugh Hewitt, and this is Round 16. Still waiting on a radio format for these things, but here goes.

The Commentary

If the race for the chance to take on Trump in 2020 were an actual stock market, with puts and calls available, I’d be buying Biden puts as aggressively as my budget allowed. I still think Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is going to be the nominee, and I see coming the desperation when the former vice president continues his decades-old habits of stumbles, bumbles and fumbles and falls as fast as Beto O’Rourke has. It’s why I myself haven’t ranked him higher than No. 10 in weeks.

When that fall happens, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) loyalists will be fast out of the gate in Iowa and New Hampshire, and those wins will scare the wits out of Democratic elites, who will turn en masse to whoever wins South Carolina and the Golden State. That will be Harris. Everything but the hard realities of the rules regarding delegates is noise.

The debates may winnow the field but not quickly enough to allow a serious contender to the right of Harris to emerge as the alternative to her. There are plenty of suitors for that job, but former congressman John Delaney, Rep. Seth Moulton and Rep. Tim Ryan, former governor John Hickenlooper and Gov. Steve Bullock, and Sens. Michael Bennet and Amy Klobuchar just can’t get energy going because of, well, that guy: Mayor Pete. Buttigieg is gobbling up the “what if” column inches and superb profiles, and he will continue to do so because he’s more interesting than the other off-the-rack pols. Not interesting enough to be the nominee but endlessly fascinating to the cynical media elite.

I still think it is Harris’s to lose, and much as it might frustrate her colleagues Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, it’s Harris who is the best hope of the left to actually beat Trump and stop Sanders fair and square.

Sorry, Mr. Vice President. Every day, oppo research on you surfaces, and it’s just beginning. No politician who got their start in the Richard Nixon presidency can possibly hold on to the two generations beneath the tail end of that era. There’s too much political ammo lying around to use on you and, unlike Donald Trump in 2016, you are not the master of messaging that he is.

— Hugh Hewitt

The Ranking

Ranking not showing? Click here.

Position Challenger Change Over Last Ranking
1. Joe Biden
2. Bernie Sanders
3. Kamala D. Harris
4. Elizabeth Warren
5. Pete Buttigieg
6. Cory Booker
7. Amy Klobuchar
8. Beto O’Rourke
9. Michael Bennet
10. Julián Castro UP 1
11. John Hickenlooper DOWN 1
12. Jay Inslee UP 2
13. Seth Moulton DOWN 1
14. (TIE) Tim Ryan DOWN 1
14. (TIE) Kirsten Gillibrand RETURNS TO RANKING

Falls off ranking: Stacey Abrams

Also receiving votes: Abrams, Steve Bullock

Last week’s ranking: Round 15 | The most striking thing about the 2020 race is what’s missing from it

Following week’s ranking: Round 17 | 2020 Democrats are hopping on the impeachment train

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, we’ll catch you on the air waves. Maybe.

Read more on 2020:

Michael Gerson: Is Biden’s common sense and decency enough for voters?

Jennifer Rubin: Town halls will truly test Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke

Marc Thiessen: Biden is leading the polls. His own party wants to stop him.

Karen Tumulty: I asked Democratic candidates if they’d restore press briefings. Here’s what they said