The Democratic race is starting to shape and there is both good news and bad news for Joe Biden. The bad news for the Biden campaign is that the opening contests in Iowa and New Hampshire are not looking good. However, a few weeks later in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday, Biden’s campaign looks likely to get a shot in the arm.
As we noted
earlier this week, Biden is slumping in Iowa as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie
Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg surge. As of this writing, Biden is still in second
place with 18 percent in the Real
Clear Politics average but is trending downward. Warren sits atop the Iowa
polls at 22 percent while Sanders and Buttigieg are statistically tied at 15
percent. All four candidates are likely to earn delegates from the caucuses on
Feb. 3 since the threshold is 15
percent of the vote Democratic primaries and caucuses.
The situation is similar in New Hampshire’s primary, which is
held on Feb. 11, just over a week after the Iowa caucuses. Elizabeth Warren, from
next door in Massachusetts, holds a three-point lead over Biden at 27-24
percent. Both of the two leading candidates are trending down in the Real
Clear Politics average as Bernie Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont
in the Senate, surges back following his heart attack. Sanders is currently at
15 percent. In New Hampshire, Buttigieg is running a distant fourth with eight
The third contest is in Nevada on Feb. 22. Polling has been
sparse for the Nevada caucuses, but the most recent
surveys, taken in September, showed a tight three-way race between Biden,
Warren, and Buttigieg.
It is not until Feb. 29, when South Carolina holds its Democratic
primary, that Biden appears poised to come into his own. A new Fox
News poll shows Biden surging in the Palmetto State. Biden holds almost a
30-point lead over Warren and Sanders thanks to a 50-percent share of black
voters, which make up a large part of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate.
Biden’s 41-percent share in the Fox poll does not appear to
be an outlier. The Real
Clear Politics average places him up by 19 points. No recent South Carolina
polls show Biden with less than an 11-point lead.
Beyond South Carolina is Super Tuesday on March 3 with 15 primaries plus a
caucus in American Samoa. Polling is not available in all of the primaries, but
the list includes southern states where Biden can be expected to run up his
delegate advantage. Polling in North
and Virginia shows Biden with a comfortable lead. Warren leads in New England states such as Massachusetts and Maine while California and Colorado look like close three-way races.
After Super Tuesday, the field will start to narrow as
candidates who are not earning delegates run out of steam. If Biden can avoid
disaster before March 3 and rack up delegates in the Super Tuesday contests, he
may begin to benefit from an air of inevitability. Recent second-choice polling
Consult shows that Warren is currently favored as the second-choice
candidate, but Biden is generally a close second.
As I’ve predicted since he entered the race, Biden benefits
from the glut of progressive candidates competing for the woke Democrat base.
The progressives appear to make up about two-thirds of the Democratic
electorate but their voting power is diluted by the number of candidates vying
for their attention. Joe Biden, who is almost alone in the moderate lane, gets
a lock on moderate voters. Biden has been aided by strong support from black
voters, who tend to be more moderate than Democrats at large.
Things can go wrong for Biden, however. His rivals
currently have a large fundraising advantage that they can use to attack him.
He could suffer from a disastrous gaffe or debate performance, although after
six months on the campaign trail and several debates this seems less likely. A
sudden health issue like Bernie Sanders’ heart attack could also upend in the Biden
If the situation remains unchanged, Joe Biden seems to be on
track to win the Democratic nomination although it will be a long, hard slog. After months of campaigning and many forecasts
of doom, Joe Biden still looks like the candidate to beat in the Democratic