(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

I’m David Von Drehle, and this is Round 19 — or as the president might call it, burgers at the clubhouse.

The Commentary

Followers of the Post Pundit 2020 Power Rankings no doubt recall that another presidential election was underway exactly four years ago. In fact, something was about to happen four years ago that could be instructive today. The Post Pundit 2020 Power Rankings did not, of course, exist back then, but if they had, the Friday ranking of 208 weeks ago would not have known that a New York celebrity was just days away from a fateful escalator ride, a weird rant about Mexican rapists and a head-scratching promise to build an enormous wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

In other words, the Power Rankers must perform our weekly assays in the absence of perfect information. We think the field of candidates is complete, but who knows for sure? Suppose next week Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson flies a helicopter into the caldera of Mount Etna, seals off the spewing lava and promises to do likewise with the fires of hate burning in our great land.

Sounds crazy, but 208 weeks ago, a pundit would have been hospitalized for uttering the words “Trump-Pence ticket.” I predict in four years, President Trump will cause a stir by dissing a biracial American-born member of the British royal family. A chopper into a volcano is tame by comparison.

For now, at least, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s free fall appears to have ended. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has hustled her way into the premier tier (the plan behind her many plans: knock off Bernie in Iowa and again in their backyard brawl in New Hampshire for control of the left lane). And because a little plagiarism every 30 years or so never hurt anyone, Joe Biden’s run at the top continues.

Then again, Oprah looks positively smashing on an escalator, and our entire swarm of Bs (Biden, Bernie, Buttigieg, Beto) can’t hold a candle to the Queen B, should Beyoncé choose to run. I imagine that might shake up a list that seems already to be three-quarters crystallized.

But even if Ms. Knowles-Carter sits out this contest, we still need only wait until the end of the month to be roused from any highway hypnosis of the race. Seeing all the candidates side by side by side by side by side by side by side by side by side by side is sure to shake everything loose, so take heart in the approach of the first debates, even as we strain for the sound of a distant helicopter.

— David Von Drehle

The Ranking

Ranking not showing? Click here.

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

Falls off ranking: Stacey Abrams, Seth Moulton

Also receiving votes: Abrams, Moulton, Andrew Yang

Last week’s ranking: Round 18 | For now, the best the rest of the 2020 field can do is nip at Biden’s heels

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, keep an eye on what Beyoncé might drop some midnight. It could be another album … or maybe even her hat in the ring.

Read more on 2020:

David Byler: The best argument for Beto O’Rourke is electability. That’s bad news for him.

Karen Tumulty: On abortion, Biden shows he is out of step with his party

Henry Olsen: Joe Biden’s climate change plan is a gift for Trump

John Delaney: Medicare-for-all is political suicide for Democrats

Jennifer Rubin: Warren is ready to ‘fight,’ but how does she plan on governing?