On one hand, it's way too early for this, amirite?
On the other hand, when a bland neoliberal Hispanic former mayor and former Obama cabinet backbencher named Julian Castro actually thinks he has a shot, no, not too early.
So, two things.
First, I'll give you oddsmaking.
Second, I'll give you his likely target audience.
Third, as a Green-leaner, I'll give a letter grade based on my take on the acceptability of their political stances and related issues.
Note: Odds may go over 100 percent total because they would change in reality with candidates dropping out, etc.
So, let's start, with ...
Julian Castro! Odds: 0.1 percent. Target: People with the last name of Castro. Like factor: D.
(Note: On people with perceived higher odds, I'll give more of a breakout. At least much as for Julian in the paragraph above.) And so, in no particular further order ...
Joe Biden: Odds 10 percent. (Don't overestimate those early Iowa polls.) Biden has the pluses of being a better establishmentarian candidate than Hillary Clinton and ties to the Obama coattails, and may be seen as more progressive than is actually true. Minuses are being almost as old as Bernie Sanders, being gaffe-prone, being Sen-MBNA on bankruptcy tightening 15 years ago, and lots of #MeToo baggage beginning with but not limited to the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Target: DNC establishment and DNC superdelegates if a brokered convention happens. Like factor: D-minus.
Kamala Harris: Odds 12 percent. Has the pluses of being a minority and a woman both, especially in the MeToo era. Has baggage of outright ConservaDem past on criminal justice issues as Cal AG and playing footsie with Mnuchin outlet on banksters and Great Recession. Has advantage of limited Senate legislation paper trail. Target: Slightly more liberal Cory Booker voters. Like factor: C-minus.
Cory Booker: Odds 7 percent. Has pluses of being a minority. Has baggage of footsie with Big Pharma, of many "poseur" stances, and lack of a Senate legislation paper trail for his length of time in office. Target: Slightly more conservative Kamala Harris voters. Is working on "what to run for" issue by getting New Jersey Legislature to consider an "LBJ bill" so he can also file for Senate re-election. Like factor: D-minus.
Robert Francis O'Rourke: Odds: 10 percent. Pluses include recent Senate campaign, Beltway stenos and even more, Beltway neoliberal think tanks rallying to him and vague "winnability" issue. Minusus include issue-free Senate campaign being exposed along with ConservaDem House record. Target: White Obamiacs from 2008 and 2012. Like factor: D-minus.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Odds: 12 percent. Pluses include MeToo actions to the degree they were genuine and some actual legislation history. Plus/minus is "bipartisanship." Minuses include seemingly unsavory nature of pushing Al Franken out the door and ConservaDem past, especially on guns. Target: Conservative wing of 2016 Sanders voters plus women in general. Like factor: D.
Bernie Sanders: Odds: 16 percent. Pluses include previous campaign history, plus him moving slightly leftward again on foreign policy. (Wake me up a year from now re Israel and BDS issues.) Minuses include the downside of previous campaign history, plus no "Hillary voted for Iraq and spoke to Goldman Sachs" easy campaign targets. Minuses from a Green POV include that he's still way too much of a military Keynesian. Additional baggage of age. See my posts about him and F-35s. Like factor: B-minus.
Sherrod Brown: Odds: 9 percent. Pluses include being from the Midwest, perception as a kinder, gentler Bernie Sanders and related matters. Minuses include no hot single issues from his Senate time, long enough for him to have developed one, and being more Fauxgressive than Progressive. Like factor: C-minus.
Michael Bloomberg: Odds: 1 percent. (This odds is as a Democrat only; I in no way rule out him making an independent run in the general election.) Pluses include perceived liberalism, especially on climate and environment through things such as the soda tax, claims to appeal to centrist independents in general election. Minuses include bankster background and everything related. Target: Democratic establishment, slightly more conservative Howard Schultz voters. Like factor? Hell,. F.
Howard Schultz: Odds 1 percent. Pluses include perceived liberalism, history of Starbucks, connections with Starbucks patrons. Minuses include downside of Starbucks history, especially with black patrons. Target: Dem establishment, slightly more liberal Michael Bloomberg voters. Like factor: D.
Elizabeth Warren: Odds 8 percent. Pluses? A woman in the MeToo era, perceived as liberal to left-liberal economically. Minuses include her Cherokee Nation baggage, that she's not as liberal on as many things as believed and that she's anti-BDS. Also, per her "I'm having a beer" NYE Instagram video, a too-transparent sense of earnestness, possibly coupled with a too-transparent sense of pandering to Millennials with that as an Instagram rather than Facebook video. Like factor? C-minus. Thanks to Daily Wire or whoever gave that graphic to somebody connected to Trump, who then Tweeted it.
Steve Bullock: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include being a governor, and thus an executive and also thus, no Senate paper trail. Minuses start with being a moderate white male. Target: New Dems in general, and specifically, ones who want to target the heartland, and slightly more conservative John Hickenlooper candidates. Like factor: C.
John Hickenlooper: Odds: 4 percent. Pluses include being a governor of a larger, more purplish state than Montana, and thus an executive and also thus, no Senate paper trail. Minuses are more prominent than Bullock's and include his in-the-tank support for fracking, plus his 2008 DNC actions while Denver mayor for those with longer memories. Target: New Dems in general, and specifically, ones who want to target the heartland, and slightly more liberal Steve Bullock voters. Like factor: D-minus.
John Delaney: Odds: Less than Julian Castro. Pluses besides being first to file? None. Minusus? Bland older white guy from exurban Congressional district. Plus/minus: Looks like a bald, blander Will Ferrell. Target: Cabinet position in next Dem presidency and staying in longer than Julian Castro. Like factor: Not even registered.
Jay Inslee: Odds: 9 percent. Pluses include being a governor and one with more liberal stances on climate issues than Bullock or Hickenlooper. Plugged in more than either of them as well. Minuses include relatively unknown level to many Democrats, being from a fairly "safe" state and not a huge record. Like factor: C.
Tim Ryan: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include perception of willingness to take on House Dem establishment. Minuses will include his Blue Dog-ish record and trying to run from the House. Like factor: D.
Tulsi Gabbard: Odds: 4 percent. Political pluses (note that caveat) include Sanders connections, especially if he does not run, a Kool-Aid stronger than Beto's, perhaps, and definite support from people like H.A. Goodman who haven't done the full Bernie-to-Trump but are definitely the conservative faction of BernieBros. General pluses are willingness to take on Dem establishment. Minuses are basically everything I've said above under political pluses plus the fact she still, Kool-Aid drinkers aside, appears to back Islamophobia, and that she's as much a political re-inventor as Trump.) Targets: The conservative portion of the Sanders movement. Like factor: D-plus.
Jeff Merkley: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include being a general progressive for a Democrat and good on climate change in particular. Minuses include being no more than a typical progressive Dem on foreign policy. Target: Sanders voters. Like factor: C-plus.
Hillary Clinton: Odds: 2 percent. (Yes, that high.) Pluses include support of think tanks, Donut Twitter, diehard PUMAs, etc. Minuses include being Hillary Clinton and her past campaign baggage, both 2008 primaries and 2016 general. Additional baggage of age. Target: 2016 Hillary Clinton voters plus a few more voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Like factor: F-minus.
Amy Klobuchar: Odds: 1 percent. Pluses? Lemme think. Minuses would be being behind two or three other women senators and being older than two of them, as well as being seen as less progressive than all three. Target: Hillary Clinton backers who wouldn't vote for one of those other women. Like factor: D.
Terry McAuliffe: Odds: More than Julian Castro and John Delaney, less than anybody else. Pluses: Was a governor. Minuses: Way too much personal political baggage plus way too much Clintonista baggage. Target audience: Clintonistas.
Marianne Williamson: Odds: Not a ghost of a chance or even a New Agey ghost of a chance. (I'd forgotten that there had been noises about her until she was mentioned on someone else's blog. But she even has an exploratory committee and website.) Pluses: Not a politician. "Peace" imagery. Minuses: All her baggage as a New Age nutter. Target audience: People who think "A Course in Miracles" is real. Like factor: Probably on the non-New Agey angle, a B; including it, a D-minus.
Among actual or potential candidates with more of a chance, how do they affect each other? Brown is possibly the main beneficiary of Sanders not running, if Brown does. Gabbard is second and Warren a distant third. Bullock and Hickenlooper obviously affect each other; both affect and are affected by Inslee to a lesser extent. Booker and Harris, with both being minority candidates, and in somewhat similar political silos, affect each other. Gillibrand interplays with Warren and Harris, and Klobuchar if she runs, and possibly also with Sanders.
If O'Rourke runs, he probably benefits most from Booker, the only other younger charismatic male in the race, dropping out. Not sure who benefits most if Robert Francis runs then drops out.
As of right now, I don't expect Sen. Amy Klobuchar to run. I don't expect any Democratic governors or ex-governors besides those mentioned above, from a thin Dem ranks in statehouses, to enter the race. I think Tom Steyer is less likely than Schultz or Bloomberg.
I think other businesscritters are less likely yet.
And, that includes Mark Zuckerberg, who has too much Facebook mess to clean up in the next 12 months to have a chance. (Notice how buzz about his possible candidacy has died off in recent months?)
It's also "amazing" (not really) how narrowly the New York Times defined "diversity" in talking about possible candidates trying to get an early start. Sanders is a secularist of some sort, but there's no real atheists. Harris, despite her part-Indian ancestry, is Christian. Tulsi Gabbard is Hindu, of course. As noted above, none are "diverse" in terms of thinking outside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. None, despite Bernie's mild democratic socialism and falsely calling himself a socialist in 2016, is there any "diversity" outside of broad tenets of modern neoliberal-influenced capitalism.
There's certainly no huge diversity in governance issues. None of the Democratic candidates has talked about amending the Constitution to abolish the electoral college, despite two presidential split decisions this century. Certainly, none has promoted ideas such as any form of instant-runoff voting or proportional representation among their state's U.S. House or state legislature delegations.
Finally, with Dem changes on superdelegates, is there some chance of a brokered convention? Yes, but not much Put it at 5 percent; note how wide open the GOP race was in 2016 but how much it converged well before the last round of primaries.