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In crowded Democratic field, a clear top tier emerges

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Kamala Harris

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrives at a Women of Color roundtable discussion, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

WASHINGTON (AP) — No votes have been cast in the Democratic presidential nominating contest, but the winnowing has begun.

A distinct top tier of candidates is breaking away from the pack in early polling and fundraising, building distance between themselves and the rest of the bloated field. Though the first nominating contest in Iowa is still more than six months away, tighter qualifying standards for the fall debates and cash flow problems have prompted some campaigns to quietly question whether they will still be operational next year.

Five candidates have pulled away from the pack: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Biden has consistently led early polls, with the four others jostling for position behind him.

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