The coverage of democratic presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren has gone something like this:
She blew it with the DNA test, showing that she couldn't successfully spar with US President Donald Trump (thereby failing the electability test). She isn't very likable (What, as compared with Senator Bernie "Get Off My Lawn!" Sanders?). And all those policy proposals are just a big blur to voters.
Out in the real campaign world, Warren was killing it at the National Action Network convention, at the She the People gathering and at town halls.
Her policy initiatives were detailed and thoughtful (even if one didn't agree with them). She had a theme (the system is rigged), enough biography to tie her own experience to policy ideas (especially on childcare) and more substance than the 19 other candidates collectively had provided.
By any objective measure Warren is a stronger standard-bearer for the left than Sanders and has fewer weaknesses.
She is younger and has more ideas than Sanders does, doesn't call herself a socialist and has been connecting with non-white voters.
Polls suggest that voters have seen her performance and declined to take guidance from the media. As a result, Warren has climbed into second or third place in recent polls, getting much closer to Sanders than Sanders is to former Vice-President Joe Biden.
In CNN's latest poll, the top three are Biden (39 per cent), Sanders (15 per cent) and Warren (8 per cent). In the Quinnipiac poll, the order is Biden (38 per cent), Warren (12 per cent) and Sanders (11 per cent). Finally, the Morning Consult poll has it as Biden (36 per cent), Sanders (22 per cent) and Warren (9 per cent).
The shift is even more striking in New Hampshire, which Sanders won in 2016 with 60 per cent of the vote. Now, according to the Boston Globe-Suffolk University poll, Biden is at 20 per cent, Sanders is tied with Pete Buttigieg at 12 per cent, and Warren clocks in with 8 per cent.
Now, keep in mind that Warren, like the rest of the contenders, is presently getting lapped by Biden.
She very well might lose (18 other candidates will also). However, her experience suggests that candidates should work hard (she takes every question, shakes every hand and agrees to every photo at her appearances), ignore media coverage, present their vision to voters, wow primary-goers with specificity and be a happy warrior. At least for Warren, that formula is paying off.
One cannot help but notice that the media, despite ample warning, confused Sanders' name recognition with actual enthusiasm.
Over the past few months, he has dropped from the mid-20s to the mid-teens in many national polls. Despite his prior run and his supposedly gargantuan online fundraising machine, he raised less than Biden in his first 24 hours and less than Beto O'Rourke on a daily basis in the first quarter (US$444,000 vs. US$520,000).
It would be a mistake to write off Sanders (or almost any candidate) this early, but there's certainly an argument to be made that all along, the chattering class has underestimated Warren and overestimated Sanders.
Maybe that's gender bias, maybe it's lazy poll analysis or maybe it's allowing Trump (who continues to ridicule Warren and proclaim that her campaign is kaput) to dictate the campaign story line. Whatever the reason, Warren might have found her rhythm.
Whether that lasts is anyone's guess.
As for Sanders, it might be time for concern. If the current trend line continues, he'll be scrambling to stay ahead of Senator Cory Booker.