Here's a big, bold prediction: Somebody will get elected president next year!
It's easy to highlight the negatives of every candidate in the race. Hillary Clinton is too cold, Joe Biden too old, Bernie Sanders too bold. Donald Trump is too crazy, Jeb Bush too boring, Ben Carson too untested, Marco Rubio too young, Ted Cruz too rigid, Scott Walker too tongue-tied.
All those stereotypes reflect some degree of truth. But "None of the Above" will NOT move into the White House in 2017. Someone will step forward, gain traction, pull away.
And today, for all her trials and troubles, the odds still favor Clinton.
Yes, she has many flaws as a candidate. And yes, she's compounded them by running a poor campaign. But for all the recent headlines about Clinton's "floundering" candidacy, all of her rivals face bigger obstacles than she does.
Voters do not measure candidates against some abstract standard of perfection, but against each other. They always ask: Compared to whom? Compared to what?
Let's stipulate: Clinton has been her own worst enemy. In mishandling her email problem, she broke the first rule in the political playbook: When a crisis erupts, get out ahead of the story. Never, ever look like you have something to hide.
That's particularly important when you have a history of bending rules and cutting corners, and your husband bears the well-deserved nickname of "Slick Willy." That's why, in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll, only 39 percent view her as "honest and trustworthy" -- a plunge of 14 points since the summer.
That same poll reveals another large weakness, which is her failure to find a story, a narrative that conveys the most important quality in a presidential candidate: empathy, connectedness and likeability. Only 46 percent said she "understands the problems of people like you" -- her lowest rating ever on that critical question.
Clinton's sharpest decline has been among white women like Elise deMichael, a retiree from Milford, New Hampshire, who told the Post that while she wants to see a woman president, she's backing Sanders.
"It's got to be the right woman," she said. "Hillary's so divisive. It breaks my heart for her. I'm sorry she's not likeable."
Team Clinton, however, is fighting back. She finally stopped being so evasive on the email mess and apologized for her mistakes. Her latest TV ad features adorable babies and an occasional puppy while she talks about making the world better for kids like her granddaughter, Charlotte.
Her social media accounts are filled with vintage photos; her media adviser, Jim Margolis, told Politico: "The pictures of her early years are important in telling her story, where she came from, the moments that shaped her life."
This new strategy won't solve all of her problems, but it could help, and she retains core strengths that sometimes get ignored: lots of money, a large organization and the enthusiasm generated by her gender. Moreover, any Democrat will have a decided edge when it comes to demography and geography.
But Clinton's biggest asset is her opponents. Sanders attracts 24 percent of Democrats in the ABC/Post poll, and that seems to be his ceiling: doctrinaire liberals who have always hated the Clintons. And now the news media is turning from breathless descriptions of his large crowds to detailed scrutiny of his specific proposals.
It's not hard to be popular when you call for free college tuition and medical care, until someone totals up the bill. The Wall Street Journal did just that and concluded that Sanders' ideas would cost taxpayers $18 trillion, "the largest expansion of government in modern American history."
Joe Biden could still run, but his heart doesn't seem to be in it, and he would start far behind Clinton when it comes to campaign resources.
The best news for Clinton, however, is the ascent of Donald Trump. In the ABC/Post poll he leads the Republican field with 33 percent, while Ben Carson has 20 percent and no one else breaks double digits.
In that same poll, 60 percent say Trump is unqualified to be president; 63 percent say he has the wrong temperament for the office; and 67 percent say he doesn't understand their problems.
It cannot be good news for the GOP when their clear front-runner is rejected by 3 out of 5 voters. Meanwhile, everyone else who might actually give Clinton a fight is obscured by The Donald's suffocating celebrity.
So sure, Clinton has her problems. But remember, somebody has to win.