If you had asked any oddsmaker in January to pick the most likely next U.S. president, Hillary Clinton would have been the overwhelming choice.
Since then, the former secretary of state has had a dreadful year, rivaled in political misery only by those of Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and a few other Republican contenders who had to drop out.
Nonetheless, if you asked those oddsmakers the same question today, before the first Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, the answer still would be Clinton.
This time, however, that assessment wouldn’t reflect her strength, but rather the lack of a strong alternative at this stage. Even Democrats worried about her general election prospects — a growing population — dismiss the possibility of her rival Bernie Sanders winning the nomination. And they are skeptical that Vice President Joe Biden will run or, if he did jump in, that he would win. The Republicans are in such chaos that a pathway to victory appears elusive.