Mondale. ''It's all over and Mondale has won it,'' said one high-ranking Democrat a few days ago. ''Personally,'' the Democrat added, ''I'm disappointed. It would have been good for the party if this went on longer. It would have been good training for everyone. A hard fight toughens the political muscles.'' Mondale's clearly the one to beat.
Glenn. He's been the big surprise and disappointment of the past six months. Despite a movie about his role in the space program (''The Right Stuff''), plenty of money, and good name recognition, he looks weaker now than last summer. He's still on the launching pad, with the count on hold.
Cranston.He has done better than expected but seems to have weakened recently. Right now, as his campaign staff readily concedes, he needs a strong third-place finish in Iowa and/or New Hampshire to remain viable.
Askew. We haven't heard much from this former governor of Florida. But here's a little surprise - the officials in other campaigns say they are taking Askew more seriously than the news media. He is pouring resources into Iowa and New Hampshire and could get support from such groups as anti-abortionists. Askew has a major advantage: not much is expected from him. So if he winds up third in one of the early states, he could gain strength quickly.
Hart. Here's someone else who hasn't been written off by his opponents. Hart is focusing on the first two states, and has the potential of pulling an ''upset'' by coming in ahead of most of the other candidates.
Jackson. Some insiders think Jackson made a mistake getting into Iowa and New Hampshire, rather than waiting for the primaries in the South with their big black vote. Embarrassing losses in the first two states could undercut some of his black support in the South.
McGovern. His showing is hard to predict. High name recognition helps. But if he doesn't do well right away, he could fade fast.
Hollings. He's rated the weakest of the candidates. But a word of caution: Hollings is hard to beat on the debate platform. If he puts on a stunning show in the New Hampshire and Iowa debates, who can say. . . .
Answers to all of this are soon to come. Analysts say we should know the name of the winner well before the last primary, and probably as soon as early April.