There are a variety of opinions about the large field of Democrat Presidential Candidates. I plan to have no preference until people start voting. However, the mechanics are going to matter a lot and they are below.
When there is a large field (the GOP in 2016) and winner take all voting, a candidate with consistent 30% support can win the nomination. This is how Trump did so.
Dems have a complex system for awarding delegates that is mostly proportional, once a candidate has garnered 15% of the vote. This makes our process a slough. While the MSM writes and talks about “winning” a state, a normal “win” has a modest effect on delegate accumulation and a massacre win is what is needed to change it. In the Dem party, the massacre wins usually happen in the South, where the voters are predominantly African American. In 2016, Clinton and Sanders traded normal wins back and forth and the reason that Saunders could not catch Clinton is that she had massacre wins in the South. (Despite all his talk of superdelegates and cheating, he lost because he lost in the South by quite large margins, and did not notch large margin wins elsewhere.)
As usual, Iowa and New Hampshire will start a winnowing the field process. However, since the South is next and California is much earlier, the large field probably gets winnowed by Super Tuesday and the races near it. The way that the math works, is once a candidate is down below 15% in up to 10 races, he or she cannot catch up without several massacre wins.
There is a pretty good chance that we go to the convention with three-ish candidates with 20-30% of the delegates each (and a handful with tiny numbers each, but which are collectively important). This is because nearly everyone has money and staying power. We will then have a worse argument than last time because no delegate lead is going to be overwhelming. We have cut back on the number of superdelegates, but they have a good chance of mattering this time, for the first time.
California is going to matter this time because it has so many many delegates and is voting much earlier. Because if its size, a “good win” in California (40-50% in a field where the rest is split among 2 or more candidates) could give the “good winner” a delegate lead that is hard to overcome, and that acts like a massacre win in the small states in the South.
Kamala Harris’ strategy is massacre wins in the South and for either a massacre win, or a good win, in California. If she executes this, plus a place in the top three elsewhere, she will likely have the most delegates.
She went to Howard and is active in one of the storied black sororities. The overlap of her sorority sisters and Dem community leaders, particularly in the South, is material. California is a state that most Dems have hardly ever campaigned. She is a favorite daughter and has high name recognition, and has won statewide twice, most recently against another Dem, and before that, against a republican.