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Hillary 21, Biden 20, Bernie 12, Warren 9

Caveat: These aren’t the numbers you get when you airdrop Clinton into the race and no one else. This is what the race looked like when Harvard-Harris added Clinton and Mike Bloomberg and John Kerry(?!) to the mix.

If you thought the Democratic top tier was lily-white now, imagine those three being stirred into the pot. Blinding white, one might call it.

I mean, the whiteness of Hillary and Kerry alone is so bright that you can scarcely find it elsewhere in nature.

Anyway, the interesting result here is the fact her entry wouldn’t collapse Joe Biden’s numbers while leaving Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren unscathed. That’s what I would have expected, but nope.

Biden takes the worst hit, as you’d assume, since he and Hillary would compete for center-left and black voters. But Sanders slips out of the teens and Warren falls out of double digits. Who are those voters? Which Bernie fan is sitting around like “Time to right the mistake of 2016 — unless I can vote for Clinton again”?

Dick Morris thinks she really is thinking about it:

“Biden and Warren were blocking the lanes Hillary needs to run in in order to get nominated. Warren, because she’s a woman, and now with Kamala Harris out of the race, and Warren having slipped, that road may be open. Hillary may be able to say, ‘vote for me, because I’m the only chance we have to elect a woman president.’”…

“And the lane that Biden was occupying is the lane that people would say, ‘Well, let’s at least join somebody that’s shown they can beat Donald Trump – that’s shown they have the ability to win a national election like Biden did,” Morris told host John Catsimatidis.

“Hillary will basically say, ‘I have that capacity. I got more votes than Donald Trump did last time. I know I can beat this guy. People should vote for me because I’m the only proven warrior out there that can tackle him.’”

“I’m the only one who can beat this guy” would be a ballsy assertion coming from someone who might well have been the only Democrat with a national profile capable of losing to someone as unpopular as Trump was in 2016. Her special cocktail of blandness, scandal, and mushy establishmentarianism gave him jussssst enough lesser-of-two-evils juice to make magic in the battleground states.

What Morris says about Clinton’s potential gender pitch is interesting, though. The freefall decline in the polls of one of the two most prominent women running this year, Kamala Harris, was masked in a way by the fact that Warren soared in polling over the same period. Because of that surge, no one at the time could credibly claim that Dem voters weren’t giving women candidates a fair chance this year the way critics are now claiming that they haven’t given black candidates a fair chance per Harris’s and Cory Booker’s poor showings. But now that Warren has lost nearly half her share of the national primary vote since October and has slipped to third in Iowa and New Hampshire, we’re poised for a full-fledged media freakout if she slips further.

Can you imagine the angry takes if the new year begins with a clear-cut top three of white dudes Biden, Bernie, and Buttigieg? The press might demand a Hillary reprise purely as a nod to diversity. Progressives might even endorse it for tactical reasons, believing that she’d bleed votes mainly from Grandpa Joe and Mayor Pete, clearing a path for Sanders.

The DNC would have a collective panic attack for the same reason, especially since Clinton would be too late to qualify for the ballot in some primaries. One scenario is that she’d divide the centrist vote and inadvertently help Sanders sweep to the nomination; a second scenario is that she’d win just enough of the vote to cause a stalemate with Biden or Buttigieg and Sanders, ensuring a nightmarish brokered convention. I’m not sure which scenario is worse from the DNC’s perspective. (Presumably the first one.) Let’s try it and see.

Here’s Bernie discussing the coming match-up with Hillary. Sorry, I mean the last match-up with Hillary.