If the Democratic presidential primary were held today in your state, whom would you support? Cast your vote in the Nation Poll.

One of the standard lines uttered at each of the Democratic presidential debates has gone something like this: “Anyone on this stage would be an improvement on the current President.” On that we are agreed. But there remains healthy disagreement among progressives, Democrats and independents over who should be the opposition party’s nominee. One year before the general election, we invited eight commentators to make their best cases for their chosen Democratic contenders. These comments do not represent the magazine’s views; rather, each reflects a complex and personal calculus that weighs varying measures of ideology, integrity, competence, experience and electability. Some of these essays are outright endorsements, while others are more cautious assessments of the strengths of particular candidates. But all serve as reminders that this remains an open and exciting race, even as the window for considering the qualities of the candidates is rapidly closing. The longest preseason in American political history will soon give way to what could well be the fastest nominating process, which could identify a prohibitive favorite for the nomination by early February. Indeed, even without a single vote cast, the media have indulged their tendency to anoint an invincible front-runner. It’s far too early to close off debate about a contest in which the stakes are so great for the Democratic Party, the country–and the world.   –The Editors

Essays in This Series

John Nichols for Joseph Biden
Ellen Chesler for Hillary Clinton
Katherine S. Newman for John Edwards
Bruce Shapiro for Christopher Dodd
Richard Kim for Mike Gravel
Gore Vidal for Dennis Kucinich
Michael Eric Dyson for Barack Obama
Rocky Anderson for Bill Richardson