With each passing month it appears increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will go all-but-unchallenged for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. Assuming no unexpected scandal or health problem stops the Clinton train, Elizabeth Warren is almost certainly not going to run. Few other serious candidates have been engaging the invisible primary.
In fact, the only even remotely significant contender at this point is Jim Webb, who will almost certainly be running to Clinton’s right.
All of which means that Clinton will waltz essentially uncontested to the nomination.
Clinton’s likely instinct will be to start running a calculated general election campaign from the very beginning, cognizant that her major challenge is defeating a Republican, not a fellow Democrat. Jim Webb, assuming he remains in the race, will try to pull her to the right. The Democratic Party will need a force pulling Clinton toward more populist economics and reducing her instinct to play it safe.
At this point, Bernie Sanders seems the likeliest person to be able to provide that counterbalance, poking at some of Clinton’s weak points on Wall Street, forcing her to toughen up her defenses on that front, and pushing her toward more progressive populist stances. That would be a good thing–not just for voters, but for the Clinton campaign as well.