A presidential bid that began almost a year ago with an embarrassing DNA test to prove her Native American roots has now become the dominant story of the Democratic race.

Elizabeth Warren performed well in the debates, is rising in the polls and on the stump has transformed herself from a professorial wonk into a hardscrabble Horatio Alger candidate with an affecting personal story: a young woman who rose from Norman, Oklahoma, to Harvard through affordable college now out of reach for much of the middle class.

While Warren still trails Joe Biden in nearly every national and state poll, the trend is striking—as is the looming gap between her considerable skills and Biden’s repeated stumbles.

The strategic premises of her campaign are to claim the progressive mantle from Bernie Sanders, stake the “alternative to Biden” ground, and then engage in a one-on-one battle for the nomination.

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