The pundocracy is dissecting the Democratic debate Wednesday night and something of a consensus is emerging.
John Edwards, by pointedly and directly drawing differences with front-runner Hillary Clinton, boosted his prospects to be the liberal alternative to the former first lady.
Barack Obama, by passing up another chance to go after Clinton, did not help himself. At times, he even appeared listless.
Clinton, by parrying her rivals' critiques and avoiding saying anything incendiary, emerged unscathed for the most part. At times, though, she acted too much like she already has the nomination sewn up and refused to answer questions on Social Security and Iran, among other issues.
And while some had their moments, none of the other five contenders broke out of the pack.
The bottom line: While it's still three months until the first caucuses and primaries, Clinton is well ahead and the nomination is hers to lose.
Interestingly, a couple of different groups at Dartmouth College, which hosted the debate, came to different conclusions about the debate.
A focus group of 16 students, organized by the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and Social Sciences, thought that Obama turned in a very weak performance.
But in an online poll by open-vote.com, Obama finished second. Of the 600 respondents, 31 percent said they thought Clinton won, 25 percent said Obama, and 19 percent said Edwards.