Last Saturday, nearly 26,000 people packed themselves into Queensbridge Park in New York City, angling for a chance to see Bernie Sanders speak. Almost 20,000 people did the same for Elizabeth Warren in Manhattan in September. Multiple presidential polls show Sanders and Warren, the two most progressive Democratic primary candidates, alternating between the second and third spots behind Joe Biden in the 2020 race. Those results suggest that a policy agenda that includes Medicare for All and high taxes on the wealthy is gaining traction among voters.

Establishment Democrats are panicking at this prospect, and at Biden’s declining performance. As The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin reports, they are “engaging in a familiar rite: fretting about who is in the race and longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last minute.”

After Joe Biden’s middling debate performances and repeated gaffes, Martin’s sources doubt the former vice president’s “ability to finance a multistate primary campaign.” They also worry about Elizabeth Warren’s “viability in the general election,” and whether South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg “can broaden his appeal beyond white voters.”

The centrist donor class is at it again, idly floating Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama as potential late-in-the-game entries to the presidential race, according to Martin’s unnamed sources who attended a dinner for Democratic donors at Manhattan’s Whitby Hotel last week.

Leah Daughtry, a longtime Democratic party fixture and CEO of the 2016 and 2008 Democratic National Convention Committees, told Martin: “Since the last debate, just anecdotally, I’ve had five or six people ask me: ‘Is there anybody else?’ ”

Connie Schultz, a journalist married to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who considered a run earlier this year, told Martin, “There’s more anxiety than ever,” adding, “We’re both getting the calls [suggesting Brown should run]. I’ve been surprised by some who’ve called me.”

Martin does not explain whether the likes of Clinton, Bloomberg, Brown and John Kerry (another name Martin’s sources floated), would have any more luck attracting nonwhite voters or beating Trump. Only two of the names mentioned in the piece, former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, are not Caucasian.

As former Obama adviser David Axelrod explained to Martin about the Warren-Biden dynamic: “With Trump looming, there is genuine concern that the horse many have bet on may be pulling up lame and the horse who has sprinted out front may not be able to win.”

Mitch Landrieu, the former Democratic lieutenant governor of Louisiana, still believes Biden has the best chance to beat Trump, but says Biden’s weak fundraising remains “a real concern.”

Party elites are also apparently concerned about Warren’s “liberal politics,” although the arguably even more liberal policies of Bernie Sanders get only a brief mention at the end of the article. In fact, Sanders is not listed among the frontrunners despite his poll numbers and what CNN called his “massive” $25 million fundraising haul in the third quarter.

A Marquette University Law poll from September also suggested that Sanders could beat Trump in Wisconsin, a key swing state.

In a September article about Sanders’ electability prospects, Gloria Hoag, a New Hampshire Democratic delegate attending the state party convention, told Politico, “I love Bernie. … But I don’t know if he can beat Trump because he’s so far to the left. We need someone who’s a little more moderate.”

Perhaps all involved would do well to take Deval Patrick’s advice, as he explained to the Times: “Everybody needs to calm down, it’s early. It’s so early.”

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