White House 2008 rankings: The Democrats A bi-weekly rating of the presidential candidates Link National Journal Updated: 6:49 a.m. CT Oct 16, 2007 WASHINGTON - These were among the busiest political weeks in recent memory, certifying that the campaign is probably at the end of the beginning stage. These rankings are ordered by likelihood of winning the Democratic Party primary and are based on a number of factors, including organization, money, buzz and polling. DEMOCRATIC RANKINGS 1 Hillary Clinton New York senator Last Ranking: 1 As predicted, this is the scrutiny quarter, and Clinton is starting to take some heat. Voter questions are proving to be the ones causing her the most problems -- on Social Security (she finally answered a question on this issue, and hinted at the doughnut payroll tax idea that Edwards touts); on Iran; even, again, on her initial Iraq vote. 2. Barack Obama Illinois senator Last Ranking: 2 Out of necessity, he is getting comfortable going negative against Clinton. He probably should have done this sooner, because it would have drawn the Clintons' ire sooner -- putting her in a position of starting to go negative on him. Now, she can try to stay above it all for a while, and her campaign spokespeople can pounce. 3. John Edwards Former North Carolina senator Last Ranking: 3 The gap between Nos. 2 and 3 is growing again, and it's not because Obama's done anything to go ahead; it's that Edwards has put himself in a position where he seems boxed in. There's just no plausible way for him to do the little things (like worry about absentee voters in Arizona and California, two days AFTER the Iowa caucuses) and hope he can somehow run the table early on and then compete on Feb. 5. Is it possible? Sure, but the odds get longer. Never mind the crap his campaign had to deal with last week, which threw them off stride for a week; Edwards can't afford to lose earned media weeks. 4. Bill Richardson New Mexico governor Last Ranking: 4 It's tempting to rank Richardson below Biden, but that's not what polls show, so we won't. But his decision to go the anti-war route seems to be costing him more (see South Carolina) than he's gaining. Maybe we're wrong, but he just doesn't strike us as a plausible anti-war candidate. 5. Joe Biden Delaware senator Last Ranking: 4 If the campaign is about trying to make a surprise showing in Iowa and boomeranging from there, he's putting together a pretty good long-shot campaign. Ultimately, he's probably Mr. Second Choice, which isn't always a bad thing in Iowa. But what's going to be the BIG thing he does besides Iraq? He needs something unique and different to make up for his lack of resources. The Brownback gambit was a good idea, except that it was with Brownback -- should have been with McCain or Huckabee, which would have been a more credible roadshow. 6. Christopher Dodd Connecticut senator Last Ranking: 6 How is he not catching even a little fire? His team is running a smart race -- right on the issues -- but he just hasn't crossed the bar of potential nominee. BTW, want a long-shot possibility for a Gore endorsement? Look no further than Dodd. If Gore can't endorse Clinton and doesn't think Obama or Edwards can beat her, then endorsing a real long shot who is closer to him on his important issues might be the path he chooses.... Just a crazy thought.