As if we need to witness the lesson once again, politics can be harsh and cruel. A candidacy that began with such promise in Oakland California barely 11 months ago with 20,000 people gathered to boost Senator Kamala Harris into the White House, has ended as the mother’s milk of politics – money – dried up for Harris this week.

You can believe her epitaph: “Although I’m no longer running for president, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.” And you can also believe what David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, said today: “Kamala Harris has many gifts but the campaign never lived up to its promise. Message and mission were never clear and consistent. But this isn’t the end of her story.”

Kamala Harris immediately becomes the most eligible candidate for vice president on the ticket, not only because of her considerable skills, but because it will almost surely be the only way – bar a miracle comeback for Senator Cory Booker – for a person of colour to lead the presidential ticker for a party where 24 per cent of its vote is from African Americans.

The biggest beneficiaries of Harris’ exit are Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. They are now the strongest centrists in a smaller field.

But we are still a long way from consolidation around a clear winner. It is possible that the first 4 primaries – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – will be won by 3 or 4 different candidates. Each winner will get some momentum, but likely not a decisive edge for them or an opening for Michael Bloomberg to sweep Super Tuesday on March 3 (which includes California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia among others).

Kamala Harris is immensely gifted, able and an inspiration. But she will not become president on January 20, 2021. And we are no closer to knowing who will be.