Michael Wolraich's picture

    Time is Not on Biden's Side

    Joe Biden looks great on paper. Polling at over thirty percent, he dominates his Democratic rivals by fifteen points or more, and he crushes Donald Trump in head-to-head polls. He has half-a-century of political experience, and his middle-class Scranton roots will appeal in Pennsylvania and other rust-belt swing states. Firmly in control of the centrist vote, he can sit back while his opponents squabble over the left wing.

    But he’s unlikely to become the Democratic nominee for President.

    Given Biden’s resume and name recognition, there’s no mystery why he’s the frontrunner. The question is, why isn’t he further ahead? The answer is immediately apparent if we step back for a moment. Yes, Biden has taken control of the center with a carefully choreographed strategy to stay to the right of his rivals. His only real competition for centrist Democrats is John Hickenlooper of Colorado, now polling at 0.5 percent. But this lack of competition suggests that center may not be such a great place to be this year. The combined polling for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the two most liberal candidates, is only a couple of points behind Biden. When one of them drops out, it’s easy to predict where their supporters will go. Meanwhile, almost all the other candidates have also been driving to the left, which means their supporters are also unlikely to sign up for a centrist candidate who proudly defends the status quo. As some of the more liberal candidates drop out, Biden’s lead will shrink.

    That’s not the only reason Biden’s lead is artificial. His campaign also benefits from a big name-recognition boost that will not last. With the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, most primary voters know little to nothing about his rivals. That will change once the presidential debates start, the field narrows, and the primaries kick off. Back in June of 2007, Hillary Clinton dominated her lesser-known rivals by similar margins but lost her lead as the primary election heated up and voters began to pay attention.

    Biden’s mid-Atlantic roots are also less helpful than they might seem. Though the heartland tends to be more conservative than the coasts overall, Democratic voters in those states are more anti-establishment and often more liberal than their coastal counterparts. In 2016, Bernie Sanders outran Hillary Clinton across a swath of Great Plains, Upper Midwest, and Northwest states. The fact that he was a Brooklyn-born, Vermont-based Jewish socialist did not seem to bother them. (Nor, I might add, were Middle Americans put off by a rich, philandering New York real estate mogul in the general election.)

    Finally, Biden is not that adept a politician. When he hits an obstacle, he stumbles, as we’ve already seen in several mini-scandals this year, including his response to the hugging criticism, his reversal on the Hyde Amendment, and his ill-conceived remark about cooperating with segregationists. Back in 1988, a relatively minor plagiarism scandal derailed his presidential campaign, and his 2008 campaign was hobbled by gaffes. No wonder his staff has been keeping him out of the spotlight this year. But sooner or later, he will have to step out, and his past performance does not inspire confidence about how he’ll fair when he does.

    So yes, Biden is riding high at the moment, but let’s not be overawed by his poll numbers. The advantages fueling his lead will not last, and that lead isn’t large enough to cushion the fall. Perhaps all the other candidates will implode, leaving Biden the only man standing, but I wouldn’t count on it. Time is not on his side.



    The bar on "adeptness, stumbles, mini-scandals, responses to criticism, reversals, gaffes or ill conceived remarks" will clearly be very low in the general election, when running against Trump.

    Heartland former Trump backers thinking of voting otherwise aren't going to care. It won't hold Biden back with rural white males, whose votes, due to the Electoral College, carry more weight than city voters and are critical to win in swing states.

    Threats to Dems would seem to be the usual disunity and circular firing squad low turnout outcome, easy "open border, socialist, elitist" targeting of Dems, and 'bumper sticker' new MAGA slogans by Trump. Additionally, lefty purity angels no shows. Not helping, and to be expected: MSM "both sides to blame" "fairness", harping on minutia, and providing Trump with all the airtime he wants for his crisis a day, attention grabbing "only I can solve it" reelection strategy.

    First, I'm talking about the primaries, not the general election. My argument is not that Biden shouldn't be nominated but that he probably won't be. It's a prediction, not a political position.

    But to clarify, Biden's weakness is not that he makes gaffes but that he has trouble brushing them off. They called Reagan the Teflon president. You could say the same about Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Biden, by contrast, is flypaper. This is now the third presidential campaign in which he has tripped over relative minor scandals and faux pas. Hillary was sticky too. The scandal bar you mention was already low in 2016...for Trump. Not so much for Hillary. If Biden does win the nomination, I expect the contest would be similar to 2016: minor stuff would stick to Biden while far worse stuff slipped off Trump's back. But that's probably academic because, as I've said, I don't think Biden will win the nomination.

    I think you have called it well as far as you go. I will probably not vote for Biden myself but what does that leave as the likely winner? I was for Sanders in 2016 and would vote for him again in 2016 but 2020 is a new year.  I think his moment has passed and he has made some very bad mistakes this time around. I would vote for Warren but my 'gut' feeling is that she would lose to Trump although there are several issues which could explode [some literally] and change all calculations. After her there is no one who excites me in the slightest as being our next "leader". 

     I never thought Tulsi Gabbard would have a chance but hoped for a while now that she would catch enough traction to bring her big issue some serious attention. I read recently an article about the lack of foreign policy as an issue among the Democratic candidates which mentioned a few exceptions by several which seemed to just be checking the box, not really stressing it as nearly as important as I think it should be, and Gabbards name was not even mentioned in that context.  

     Do you have a favorite as a candidate predicted  to win or as one you would like to win, not necessarily the same, so far?  Yeah, it's early but  what the hell.  


    Good questions. It's still so early that I can't answer either one with any confidence. Post-debate trends are often surprising. But if there are no big surges or precipitous falls, I'd say that you're looking at a 3-person race between Biden, Warren, and Sanders. Warren would be well-positioned in that case because if either of the others drops out, she can conceivably take most of their supporters.

    As for my preference, I don't know. Today, I like Warren. Her policies are great, and she has good political instincts (though her dreadful mishandling of the Native American claim gives me pause). I also have my eye on Harris and Buttigieg. I love that Sanders is out there, but I still have trouble imagining him as president.

    I suppose it's not impossible for Buttigieg to win the nomination but I think he'd lose the general. His youth is a big enough hurdle but his homosexuality is going to kill him with far too many older voters. Even if intellectually we've accepted homosexuality the learned during childhood and ingrained disgust that older males feel watching a man kiss a man is still there.

    How could anyone poll higher than 30% with 23 people running?

    I think Biden, though flawed, is the only sure bet to beat Trump.  He will bring in white rural voters, is liked by blacks (yes the legislation he voted for will be touted as proof that he really hates blacks, but that won’t fly),  and the entire world will breathe a sigh of relief.  He knows world leaders and they know him.  So what I envision and hope for, is that he will, as President, restore relationships with our allies, undo the EO’s that trump signed that have hurt our country so significantly.

    Then, he can appoint to his cabinet, many of the talented group of people who he is running against, and many of whom have special interests that make them perfect for such work.  Kamala Harris for AG?  I won’t go further, but really. These people have deeply thought about these issues far more than most cabinet appointees, I would imagine.


    In the mean-time, his VP — Elizabeth Warren (whom I don’t think can win as president, unfortunately) will do what it takes to get her brilliant policies in place, and at the end of 4 years, because of her success, and because her campaign slogan will be,  “You really ARE better off than you were four years ago!” Will sweep her in!

    I just honestly think these two are the answer, both for electability and for what can be accomplished in a first term to heal the nation.

    What other winning pathway is there?  I’m all ears!

    It is still early. We have the drip, drip, drip of Trump Congressional investigations, and we have Democratic candidates defining themselves on the campaign trail. Trump may have peaked in his support. The full effect of Trump tariffs haven’t clicked in. Iran is no longer constrained by a nuclear arms deal. There is still much that can unravel, including more Biden gaffes. If there is a close primary in South Carolina, all bets are off.


     (yes the legislation he voted for will be touted as proof that he really hates blacks, but that won’t fly)

    I think you are correct on this and this actually is a key thing. Because the third way Clintonites are the ones that pushed that kind of legislation because, with a lot of them coming from governing the "new South", they knew and understood the more conservative, older black voters who actually have a lot in common with white Reagan Dem types than is portrayed in faux narratives. Far left blacks can bitch all they want to try to prove Bill Clinton pushed all kinds of nasty bills that hurt "the black community" but somehow Bill Clinton still remained "the first black president" How did that happen? Simple fact: the part of the "black community" that makes the most noise does not the represent entire "black community". Especially not at primary voting time. Mho, it's actually racist to think that they all think alike. At primary voting time, black votes are not monolithic, far from it.

    More, Clinton worked with black leaders on these solutions. Whatever failures, they tend to be shared. And I wish it was acknowledged there was overall a very earnest effort to improve things, to fix things. Rather than the GOP approach of "cut budgets and hope the market steps in to fix". Even for-profit prisons likely came out of efforts to not create another government institution or expand gov programs that would be hard to cut later. That might have been naïve, but that's ling been conventional wisdom that government programs once enacted never die. Trying to rein in the budget required different approaches.

    In 1994, there was fear of increased crime, There was the crack epidemic. This is 2019, the era of decreasing violent crime, police abuse on video, and mass incarceration. BlackLivesMatter has aided in electing Progressive district attorneys. AOC, Warren, and Sanders supported the Democratic DA candidate in Queens who appears to have the lead. Can Biden adapt?

    Younger voters know Biden as Obama’s VP. They are just now seeing him as his own man. The request for an apology from Booker is likely to loom large. Older black voters may be more forgiving.

    Warren, O’Rourke, Booker debate tonight. Biden, Harris, Sanders, and Buttigieg debate tomorrow. 

    Biden’s gaffes are occurring in 2019. 

    Edit to add

    Here is how Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush describes his vote for the 1994 crime bill.


    Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who has served in Congress for over 20 years, is now apologizing for his role in signing a 1994 crime bill that was detrimental to the urban poor and people of color.

    In an emotional interview on MSNBC on Wednesday, Rush said, “I am ashamed of my role. I sincerely apologize to my God. I apologize to my community, to my family. That was the worst vote, as I look back on the years.”

    Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.

    “Crack cocaine and the crime bill were the two worst issues, problems, catastrophes that the black community has suffered from in the last 15 years,” the Chicago politician added.

    Rush explained that his vote on the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, was accompanied by “a lot of hope” and he believed the bill would deal with the “devastating crime.” He went on to say that the crime bill as implemented had too many resources focused on “locking them up” and provided no resources for beneficial programs.



    Rush supported Clinton in 2016


    Biden asked for Booker to apologize His problem is not the past. His problem is the present.

    AOC on Biden


    On the other hand, she also rejects Joe Biden’s “appeal” as a centrist Democratic Party presidential candidate. “I think that he’s not a pragmatic choice,” she says when we discuss his latest comments on working with segregationists. “That’s my frustration with politics today, that they’re willing to give up every single person in America just for that dude in a diner. . .Just so that you can get this very specific slice of Trump voters? If you pick the perfect candidate like Joe Biden to win that guy in the diner, the cost will make you lose because you will depress turnout as well. And that’s exactly what happened to 2016. We picked the logically fitting candidate, but that candidate did not inspire the turnout that we needed.” Despite pressure to endorse, she thinks it’s too early for anyone to do so. “We haven’t even had a debate yet.”


    Democrats have a slice of working class whites who agree with their positions. Chasing the other white working class voter who disagree on key issues may risk ignoring the Democrtic base. 


    Unconventional people are constantly offering the conventional wisdom about how people who are not like them will vote. I don't do that because I don't know how people who think and act different than me will vote. I also don't trust the conventional wisdom. I haven't seen any convincing evidence rural whites will vote for Biden. One think I'm pretty sure of though. Biden will not choose Warren for his vp, nor any left progressive. Just like Hillary chose a centrist perhaps barely center left Tim Kaine Biden will chose a vp who is mostly like him, a very moderate centrist dem. And mostly his cabinet picks will be center to center right too.

    I kinda felt Hillary was choosing to calm things down, that she was attracted to Warren, couldve generated that Clinton-Gore vibe of yesteryear, but too much, dangerous with 2 females, etc. Biden may want more excitement, someone young, someone cool. Doubt he would pick Warren.

    There was a belief among people like you and me that Hillary was much more left than others believed. Be that as it may the Sanders crowd and many others on the left saw her as a centrist establishment democrat. She didn't play to them by choosing a leftist or a progressive. She chose a moderate centrist vp. That didn't calm things down on the left and it didn't make liberal supporters like me happy. Biden will do the same.

    I think the same but maybe for a different reason: when you reach that age and you are in politics and have been for decades, it's your last chance to be and do and go for what you really believe, no more beating around the bush or playing games. (Is the same with Bernie.)

    C'ville wins the best 9-month old prognosis.

    Mine wouldn't have been bad, but I overestimated Bloomberg displacing Joe a month ago. (Rumors of Jooe's death were greatly exaggerated)

    Even back in the TPMCafe days, from her comments, I always thought of her as like the perfect example of a Democrat, smack dab in the middle of the Democratic party, dead center. She's also got wicked talent at common sense.

    Yeah, when she said she was a Party Girl, I thought she meant in a Girls Just Wanna Have Fun way, but no, she meant a Party over personal pref. You get Earth Mama's? She's a Party Mama - someone's gotta stick to the party jnitting. Me, I'm off baying at the moon".

    (was going to post Parker Posey's Party Girl, or the much earlier Cyd Charisse, but this French-Belgian film seemed to evoke that late life love return that CVille might appreciate as meatier fare:



    In previous campaigns Joe had more compelling opponents, and we have the comfort factor and the need to beat Trump factor. The baba yaga she-witch isn't running to steal your children, with only Liz Warren partially occupying the Wicked Witch of the East role. The media will try to pump up the scandals, but Hunter/Ukraine faded pretty quick, so even if Joe's none-too-adroit, whitewater/emailgate/travelgate/uraniumgate won't be battoned about for months til draw blood - instead, Joe will survive his uncomfortable news cycles and he'll still be old, male, white, good looking, friendly - with 50 years gov experience with exactly that. For 2020, with a lunatic of the other party in the White House, a quiet weekend in the Hamptons may be our ideal vacation, rather than the Caribbean cruise or the trek thru the Amazon.

    The thing to remember is Biden wins his category hands down. The rest will fight and compete to win the "who has the best ideas", "who will solve student loans/inequality", "who is the most anti-war", "who has identity cred", etc. 2nd place in any of those categories is a 1-way ticket to Palookaville - "2nd most liberal candidate - plus black!" isn't a winning campaign, isn't how people parcel off their votes. Offhand I'd say only Andrew Yang has something compelling for an also-ran, but he'll need to rise up as the many others (Pete, Beto, Tulsi...) fade to pre-ordained irrelevance.

    What is Biden's category? Old white male Democratic establishment. Then yeah, I'd say he's got that wrapped up. As for his previous presidential campaigns, you can't blame his performance on the quality of his opponents. He nosedived before he even got off the ground. The last time he won a competitive race, he was 29 years old, which ftr was 47 years ago.

    In any case, I don't share your dismal view of the Democratic slate. I would agree that most are untested on the national stage, so they could conceivably self-destruct and leave Biden the last man standing, but this certainly isn't a foregone conclusion.

    Mike ate Joe's old white male lunch, only left a PBJ for him to nibble on. And Bernie perhaps is old white male enough. As is Liz (all those years with the Fed...) So yeah, Joe's out to pasture. Say it ain't so, Joe.

    Trump killed Joe (and got away with it - even better than shooting him on 5th Ave)

    I think this comment is very wise. 

    I especially like this point The scandal bar you mention was already low in 2016...for Trump. Not so much for Hillary.

    It's the the familiarity, stupids. All that has to happen is oppo to say "but what about this that he/she did?" and "what about that that he/she did?" and swing voters suddenly remember they didn't always like what that guy/gal did and they don't like/trust them as much as they thought and they switch their vote to the new guy or gal. Thinking: give the new guy or gal a chance, let's see what they do, based on a sort of naive eternal optimism that the new guy or gal will be different and later find out: they are not different. cheeky

    But I don't think the scandal bar is sticky for Biden. Again, he can do the exact same stuff as Hillary, but no one cares about him. (think of John Kerry - tell me how his tenure as SoS has been much different, but he's still treated as the same old.)

    Biden was sunk by a plagiarism scandal. You think that would stick to Reagan? Bill Clinton? Trump?

    I don't think it's quite the same as with Hillary, for whom everyone was ready to to believe the worst. It's more that he acts like a deer in headlights and makes things worse for himself whenever he gets into trouble.

    FWIW, I don't have a "deer in headlights" image of Biden, ever. I don't have that image of him at all. I think of him as a very savvy politician. His gaffes are not actually gaffes, they are his subconscious, his gut beliefs coming out, and he's not good at spinning them when that happens. That he's not good at spinning is a feature, not a bug. Unless you are the morals police type or the politically correct type.

    Brutal reality is that he really is old fashioned pro-business and pro-union, the old world of "MAGA" and things like that.  I.E. he wasn't into defending all those credit card companies just because they were donating. He actually doesn't think they are evil.

    Look at the Hyde Amendment, first he's for it, then he's against it. On the touching, he said he's sorry but he's not sorry, and then tried to make a joke of it, which just made it worse. On the segregationists (a ridiculously unforced error), he tried to sidestep by claiming that his remarks were taken out of context, but of course, it's getting worse. And that doesn't even get into the gaffes and scandals from previous campaigns.

    So I don't know what metaphor you want to use, but I certainly wouldn't call it savvy.

    On the segregationist statement, this is not a deer in the headlights, this is totally unapologetic:

    He started on this meme 10 days ago with BIDEN SLAMS CRITICS OF WORKING WITH GOP: 'WHY DON'T YOU ALL GO HOME THEN, MAN?'. Not backing down.Knows the voter he's going after.

    I just don't see it. On "the touching," I see it as him getting advice from women he trusts on how to spin it, but he's really not comfortable with what he was advised to do. He just said "okay, sorry, I'll try to be better." But I saw it as he's not going to try that hard, because he doesn't care that much about the screechingly politically correct, if you can't see he doesn't mean harm, he gives a shit cowtowing to your preferences only until you vote (based on advice of his pollsters that: you're going to need some of this type of voter), then he's going back to being himself.

    He's more cynical about pandering than he is deer in headlights. He'll do the panderings and the apologies when he thinks it necessary, but not that much.

    He keeps pretending that he's being criticized for working with Republicans. But that's not the problem. He's being criticized for working with racists--and for boasting and joking about it. Pretending that there's nothing to see here won't make the problem go away. This isn't just a gaffe, there's a history behind it. He wrote fawning letters to James Eastland and eulogized Strom Thurmond. This issue will keep festering.

    My guess is most blacks will find it irrelevant. But at least Biden could find some common ground with racists. Finding common ground with current Republicans? Not bloody likely.

    Grampa Joe actually doesn't give a shit about those who don't like his touchy feely stuff, and yes, I think he is savvy about handling it-savvy is the word-benign sarcasm with a self-deprecatory edge:

    How will VP Biden respond if his opponents tonight go on the attack? “Hug em!” he told me.

    — Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) June 27, 2019

    Done it so long, knows what works in the end when mistakes are made. After all, he's still standing!

    I just don't see an image of "deer in headlights" as applying to him, ever. It's just so odd that you would see him so differently, that's the only reason I bring this up. I am not trying to defend him in the least, I am wondering why someone would see him so differently than me. He's no naif.

    The metaphor itself may not be very apt, so I won't try to defend that. I was trying to explain how Joe's stickiness differs from Hillary's stickiness and don't think I've succeeded. But I stand by my contention that bad news does stick to Joe. Another way to put it is that he isn't good at driving the narrative (at least not deliberately), so instead of going on offense, he's constantly defending himself from criticism. The segregationist thing is a perfect example. Joe was trying to argue for the importance of bipartisanship and compromise, but instead of mounting an effective argument against Bernie and Warren, he muffed it and spent the entire news cycle defending himself against charges of tolerating racism. Naive isn't the word I'd use. Maybe ham-fisted.

    Ham fisted makes a lot more sense to me as a description.

    But as far as the point you are trying to make on stickiness, I would keep in mind how he was chosen to balance Obama's eliteness and coolness. He's typed both "ham-fisted" and warm and fuzzy when it comes to make up. This is the working class mojo, the Reagan Dem, that's what has stuck. People who like the type expect a working class guy to make gaffs, it's a feature for that type, not a bug. (Bill Clinton interestingly could do both characters!) But underneath it all, he's savvier than that, and this is part I think suspect happens now > he's not gonna hide it any of it anymore. The pragmatist character, both supportive of feminist goals and touchy feely, both supporter of civil rights and talking to racists because heck, they are citizens, too, both supporter of big credit cos. and unions, because somebody's got to make the jobs and the unions will  stick it to them for higher wages and benefits.

    Sure some people, generally men, are lovable louts. They can get away with stuff that ordinary folks can't. That's my whole point about Teflon politicians. Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Trump [puking sounds] all fit the criteria But Biden is not one of them. People don't actually let him get away with stuff. He regularly stumbles over minor gaffes that wouldn't break those other guys' strides. A bigger scandal would shatter his campaign (gasp, plagiarism!)

    As you present it, it is not about Biden, per se, but a willingness to own what others stick to rear parts of your donkey. You seem to be saying the successful contender leans into the objection rather than explain stuff to put it off.

    What is the difference between blowing off all criticism and incorporating some?

    I don’t think there’s a single path. Trump leans in, but Bill and Reagan didn’t. Bill had his famous rapid response war room. I don’t remember Reagan’s approach. I think he just changed the subject, which also requires a certain talent. 

    Now listening to every CNN commentator lambast Joe for his ham-fisted response to Kamala on segregation...

    The Thrilla in Vanilla. Joe down and out  by tko.

    Harris did a good job prosecuting Trump at the Clyburn’s fish fry. She got the guys to stop the food fight during the debate. She confronted Biden. It will be interesting to see if she rises in the polls.

    Biden should have been prepared for this attack. The fact that he wasn’t is worrisome. Biden is not ready to face Trump. Perhaps his prep has only been half-hearted.

    The great progressive Dem House mustered 129 votes for the McConnell/Trump's ICE Bill. Pelosi got a "secret pledge" from Pence the kids would not be locked up more than 90 days. Trump may demolish anyone left of Biden with his "Dems want open borders, while I protect America, crisis, crisis, crisis" bs, the Dem House didn't have the guts to force any of their provisions into McConnell 's Bill. The tea leaves are indicating fear, lies and racism are still working for the GOP.

    I think that many Democrats are energized to vote for any Democrat running against Trump. Biden is unimportant..

    Trump supporters appear to be steadfast in their choice. They like the idea that Trump battles China. They want to see abortion challenged. Trump’s bombast is entertaining and reflects the type of leader they want.

    If Trump is re-elected, it will be because the United States has succumbed to the same white populous message that captured Europe. There is little that Democrats can do to convert the true Trump supporter.

    Concentration camps, rape allegations, Russian hackers, emoluments clause violations, tariffs harming farmers, etc. If these things have not changed Trump supporters, nothing will.

    Democrats have some of the strongest candidates I have ever seen, in my opinion. Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard are excellent. Pete Buttigieg has some good ideas. I see Kamala hats all over Berkeley. People seem to like her. These are very different candidates with very different ideas with appeal to all sorts of people. It seems a bit odd that they would pinpoint on Joe Biden, a relic of the 1980s who it is at least questionable how formidable he is against Trump.

    He checks all the boxes for Democratic Presidential Nominee, so pundits and party leaders assume that he's it. Too many members of the political establishment still live in the 20th century, as does Biden himself.

    "In 2016, Bernie Sanders outran Hillary Clinton across a swath of Great Plains, Upper Midwest, and Northwest states." - nonsense - that "swath" only makes sense if you ignore the incestuous advantage of tiny caucuses vs. primaries - as seen by her loss in the Washington caucus but handily defeating him in the non-counting Washington primary.

    Note that no one's going to ding Joe for voting for the AUMF or being VP in the government that surged Iraq or whatever his role in Libya and Syria - those foreign policy forays are always good times for Joe - just has to smile and look proper and male and white. Ok, grandpa is ancient, so he's a bit cringeworthy on the guys and gals stuff. Whatever, we'll see.

    Too much time on my hands/Excel curiosity, but to prove the point that "outran" is quite misleading, and misses where actual people were, who had delegates, etc. There's been all sorts of faulty extrapolations about what this or that poll might have meant somewhere, but the fact is, trends where people actually voted were rather convincing.

    Dividing up contests by region - all primaries & caucuses

    State(region)        Winner           Hill%    Bern%
    New England        Bernie 4:2        71%    29%
    Mid-Atlantic           Hillary 3:0      100%    0%
       Northeast          Hillary 5:4       92%    8%
    South Atlantic        Hillary 8:1        97%    3%
    East South Central    Hillary 4:0   100%    0%
    West South Central    Hillary 3:1    90%    10%
       South                 Hillary 15:1     97%    3%
    East North Central    Bernie 3:2     52%    48%
    West North Central    Bernie 5:2    43%    57%
       Midwest             Bernie 8:4       49%    51%
    Mountain               Bernie 5:3        50%    50%
    Pacific                   Bernie 4:1        74%    26%
       West                 Bernie 9:4        66%    34%
    50 states             Hillary 28:22    80%    20%

    A look at 37 Primaries-only states (winner-takes-all system):

    Region                Winner           Hill%     Bern%
    New England        Bernie 4:2    H78%      B22%
    Mid-Atlantic          Hillary 3:0     H100%    B0%
       Northeast         Hillary 5:4    H94%      B6%
    South Atlantic        Hillary 8:1    H97%      B3%
    East South Central    Hillary 4:0    H100%    B0%
    West South Central    Hillary 3:1    H90%    B10%
       South                   Hillary 15:1    H95%    B5%
    East North Central    Bernie 3:2    H52%    B48%
    West North Central    Bernie 5:2    H87%    B13%
       Midwest                Bernie 8:4    H97%    B3%
    Mountain                  Bernie 5:3    H90%    10%
    Pacific                      Bernie 4:1    H90%    10%
       West                     Bernie 9:4    H90%    B10%
    All 50 states        Hillary 28:22    94%    6%


    Giving Primary winners a proportion of state population (ignoring caucuses, as I won't extrapolate a tiny caucus turnout to full state elections - which exaggerates/mixes super low turnout with the same complaints about the Electoral College - note all but 3 caucus states in the bottom 20 population-wise: 13,21,22,30,31,32,35,37,39,40,42,47,48,50. The total state populations for those lower 11 caucus wins - 2 by Hillary - is 21million, compared to 40m CA, 29m TX, 21m FL, 20m NY, or 19m combined for the 3 larger caucus states Bernie won)

    Region              Winner               Hill%    Hill               Bern%    Bernie
    New England        Bernie 4:2         48%    6333273        52%    6921775
    Mid-Atlantic          Hillary 3:0          59%    23996589          41%    16970057
       Northeast         Hillary 5:4        H56%    30329861    B44%    23891832
    South Atlantic        Hillary 8:1         65%    41634314    35%    22121341
    East South Central    Hillary 4:0     69%    12832840    31%    5703359
    West South Central    Hillary 3:1    65%    25655363    35%    13560733
       South        Hillary 15:1              H66%    80122517    B34%    41385433
    East North Central    Bernie 3:2      51%    23517080    49%    23002000
    West North Central    Bernie 5:2     50%    3488660        50%    3458762
       Midwest        Bernie 8:4             H51%    27005740    B49%    26460762
    Mountain        Bernie 5:3                55%    5586321        45%    4533493
    Pacific            Bernie 4:1                53%    22769081    47%    20551421
       West            Bernie 9:4              H53%    28355402    B47%    25084915
    All States        Hillary 28:22         H59%    165813521    B41%    116822942

    Interesting. I'll buy that low-turnout caucuses benefited Bernie, and I'll step back my sweeping claim about Bernie winning "swaths" of the Midwest and Great Plains. But even if we ignore caucus states, Bernie still did relatively well in the heartland. Here are the primary states where he won the popular vote:

    • Vermont
    • New Hampshire
    • Wisconsin
    • Oregon
    • Rhode Island
    • Indiana
    • Oklahoma
    • Montana
    • West Virginia
    • Michigan

    No need to re-litigate 2016. This is just to say that people shouldn't count on Middle American Democrats to choose Biden over Warren or Sanders.

    Also I would add that since we're talking about the primary race, the fact that Sanders did well in caucuses in 2016 means that that same dynamic will likely happen in those states next year, which doesn't bode well for Biden.

    There is certainly disgruntlement that hasn't been addressed. Ross Feingold went knocking door to door through every Wisconsin precinct, yet still lost - why? Oklahoma - is it rural dissatisfaction, loss of oil jobs, what? But unlike 2016, the prez is Republican, so the fuck you's will also largely go to the Republicans, unless their charm/lie offensive works better than it seems to. Those factories Trump/Pence were going to save didn't get saved, those auto jobs ended up elsewhere, coal didn't come back to W Va. Anyone got a plan?

    I don't necessarily think Hillary ran a great campaign - I expected more 50 state action -, but she hit Ohio and Pennsylvania hard, and again I thought Feingold was her proxy in Wisconsin. But I also hate this big ideas rebate student loans yadda yadda - blatant voter payoff, chicken in every pot hackneyed stuff. I'm for big government, but not a nanny state. I'm for a basic income, but I know how lazy some people can be and how much landlords and credit card companies and daycare and insurance etc will latch onto that basic income windfall. I wish some of thes big idea people felt like they looked at what might go wrong. How much of a slog was Obamacare? How corrupt and ineffective was the bailout?

    Finally, Biden is not that adept a politician. When he hits an obstacle, he stumbles, as we’ve already seen in several mini-scandals this year, including his response to the hugging criticism, his reversal on the Hyde Amendment, and his ill-conceived remark about cooperating with segregationists. Back in 1988, a relatively minor plagiarism scandal derailed his presidential campaign, and his 2008 campaign was hobbled by gaffes. No wonder his staff has been keeping him out of the spotlight this year. But sooner or later, he will have to step out, and his past performance does not inspire confidence about how he’ll fair when he does.

    I think this is right.  He'll trip up sooner or later.

    I also think he'll reveal himself a poor foil for Trump.  Biden and Trump are very different people, sure, but I think they're also vulnerable to being sucked up into each other's games. I basically suspect that they will threaten to kick each other's asses for months.  We don't need that.

    The point about "poor foil for Trump" is probably one of the few complaints that concerns me.

    Whether they threaten to kick each other's asses for months, I don't care - as long as Biden wins.

    Then again, there are liberals trying to put millions of war deaths and the whole 90's incarceration program on Biden's shoulders. Too much crazy, everyone thinks they have some outrageous workable theory. Biden's biggest asset right now - why he lost before - is being boring but sane. I think people will find his foot-in-mouth mutterings quaint and reassuring after 24x7 wacko these last years, and any large proposal from the left will just trigger either knee-jerk "there they go again" from the right, or i'd guess concerns about bridges too far/won't get fooled again from the center/center-left.

    Maybe the issue is more simple than I'm making it and the whole election is going to be "we tried batshit crazy, now let's try the sane guy who's been a Senator since I was in college."


    Agree, good points PP.

    Hi Mike, I don’t believe Biden has ever been good not even on paper, and yes you are right, as soon as some of the 8 million candidates drop out, Biden’s lead will shrink. And it’ll shrink more because he won’t shut up and he has really bad instincts for everywhere in America that isn’t Delaware. Trump said one thing that is right, he does it every once in a while, Joe Biden was rescued from the dustbin of history by Pres. Obama.

    The real problem with this entire field is that they don’t really excite anyone, certainly not like Obama or Clinton and they both won, people really loved Reagan and he excited them, he won. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Warren or Harris or someone just finally hits, where people start to love their energy I don’t know, it just feels like doom.

    Finally hits? Finally hits? It's June 2019 for crying out loud. Reagan didn't even announce his candidacy until November of 79, and don't forget that he lost the primary in 76. In June 2007, Hillary led Obama 33% to 21%. In June 2015, Trump was polling at 1%.

    I get it. The stakes are high, and we're desperate for salvation, but you've got to reset your expectations. With a crowded field and no incumbent, you should expect the race to be wide open at this point. And it should be wide open because open competition will allow the best candidates to rise to the top. I promise you will see some excitement as the race develops.

    Yeah, I was trying to figure out what the sane metric was for excluding candidates when for 2016 Bernie officially announced May 26, 2015, i.e. one month ago.

    Everyone should keep in mind that Trump will no doubt be playing politics for narcissist enjoyment until he's very ill or dies. Even if he's not president or is in jail, he will fight with all his might to keep a large fan club.  There is no savior, he and his cohorts will be around. No matter what is done with or to him--even by the grim reaper himself--it will be cast as a deep state conspiracy by a significant number. He is part of our new reality for the foreseeable future.

    p.s. I can only imagine being saved from him by some miracle along the lines of him falling for a guru--psychologist or preacher--who knows how to fix his sickness by appealing to it first, a conversion experience before he meets his maker.

    Five Thirty Eight:

    Yeah, Joe's fall started even before I expected. If Kamala pulls ahead of him and stays there, I think she wins the nomination. Joe's supporters are more likely to switch to her than to Bernie or Warren, so she'd end up with moderates, minorities, and a chunk of the left.

    This post aged pretty well

    Pretty much on the money.

    Or not

    Shoulda had it tested - wasn't showing signs at the time, but still, a faint feeling of fever...

    Never under estimate the power of fear. In the end fear of Trump and fear of Sanders drove votes to Biden.

    It's our primary motivator in politics and voting. Who can smile nicest while making the crowd more scared if the other guy.

    True, though I'm not so surprised that Biden is beating Sanders in a 2-person race. When I wrote this 9 months ago, it was a 20-person race with many possibilities. My prediction that Biden would slip was basically right, but I expected another candidate to take his place, and that never happened. So Biden is the last man standing who isn't Bernie.

    yeah strikes me from your comment was that some of the prediction problem was due to a whole lotta people looking for who was going to be the "last man standing"? Everyone wanted to get out and vote against Trump, so many with the "anyone but Trump" attitude. So they were looking to see how everyone else was gonna vote before they made a wave. In this context, it wasn't just SC voters that broke that problem, but even more so Pete and Amy falling on their swords at the right time so the vote wouldn't continue to be split.

    In SC aftermath it was Steyer, Pete, Amy, Bloomberg, Warren on near sequential days. Aside from kindness and worry about party, it didn't make sense for them all to drop out with Super Tuesday that close.

    Pete and Amy's timing does suggest coordination, but the writing was on the wall. Biden had already won the center lane. There was no hope for them on Super Tuesday.

    I would like to focus you back on something we discussed long ago, that the big tent parties are breaking up into smaller parties allover the world, mostly populist and not populist:

    We have two Dem parties right now, one for age 18-44 and one for 45 and older:

    The two parties https://t.co/59C51v22c5 pic.twitter.com/YCcvnhrkIl

    — David Marcus (@davidimarcus) March 11, 2020

    And a reminder that on the GOP side, there are the Never Trumper traditionalists vs. the Bannonites.

    In a way, the choice of an old-school making-sausage pragmatic Dem with empathy skills and wisdom of age is not such a bad choice in this situation. Especially if his cabinet is full of new ideas.

    I think about about it more as a state of flux. The classic left-right divide of the 20th century is obsolete, but we've yet to settle on a new binary division. Once that emerges, you'll again see two dominant parties in each country. In the US, that probably doesn't mean new parties will emerge but that the old parties will realign themselves. The GOP is already well into the process of evolving into a chauvinist, isolationist party. Democrats are still casting about and battling over a new direction, mainly technocratic vs socialist. You see similar leftist divisions in EU countries like the UK and France, while the right becomes more chauvinist and isolationist.

    Funny to read this now, starting at the top and ending up here.

    Really shows how even the smartest, most nuanced predictions are, well, for shit.

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