The rapidly evolving race to be the US Democratic nominee ironically resembles a remake of the 2016 Republican primary that marked Donald Trump's rise to power.
There's the same basic muddle and chaos of a large field of candidates. There's the cycle of candidates rising and falling as voters speed-date their suitors. There's the sense that a boom or bust choice lies ahead. And there will probably be the same eventual party unity for the general election, even if it looks remote at present.
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Former Vice-President Joe Biden seems to be playing the 2016 role of the Republican establishment's nearly-man, former governor Jeb Bush.
Starting with what should have been a formidable mix of name recognition, connections, experience and likeability, both had prime position in the usually favoured moderate lane.
Bush just wasn't a match for the mood of change that swept his election year. Unless Biden can bounce back in the Nevada caucuses, where early voting started on Sunday, and the South Carolina primary on March 1 NZT, the same fate could await.
Biden has slipped but is still in the mix – second in RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight national poll averages, polling second in Nevada and first in South Carolina and still the favourite candidate of black voters, who make up about 40 per cent of Democrats, according to two new polls.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg appears cast in Senator Marco Rubio's part of the bright, corporate-friendly, young star bubbling with promise who struggles to convince enough voters that they should take him seriously.
Senator Amy Klobuchar looks doomed to be 2020's Governor John Kasich. Qualified, realistic and tough, she's seemingly the wrong fit for primary voters this year. And Senator Ted Cruz has been reimagined as the far more appealing Senator Elizabeth Warren. Both spent long periods of their races in dogged contention.
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Assuming the script isn't overhauled or ripped up, who is the most likely Democratic version of Trump? As different as they are, both front-runner Senator Bernie Sanders and billionaire Mike Bloomberg could be. All three are well-funded, New York-linked and independent-minded. Both Sanders and Bloomberg would break the Democrat mould for a nominee if elected.
Bloomberg has quickly inserted himself into the top tier of candidates with Sanders and Biden, according to new polls by Quinnipiac and Morning Consult. His favourability rating has jumped from 31 per cent to 58 per cent since December, although a batch of unfavourable news stories, particularly over the "stop and frisk" policing policy he was known for as New York Mayor, could stall his progress.
Trump and the leading Democrats have something else in common.
Trump, 73, Sanders, 78, Biden, 77, Bloomberg, 78, and Warren, 70, are of normal retirement age. Should one of the older male Democrats be elected president, he could quickly become a lame duck. Would he be able to achieve much in office? The nominee's choice of running mate would be crucial. And the Democrats could be throwing away the advantage of incumbency for the 2024 election.
In their obsession with denying Trump four more years, Democrats could be guaranteeing themselves only four if they win with a candidate who can manage just a single term.