This has been a terribly gut-wrenching week, with disappointing Super Tuesday results and Liz Warren dropping out. See Amanda Terkel, Elizabeth Warren Could Never Escape The Baggage Of Being A ‘Female Candidate’.
And once again, we’re seeing that younger people just don’t turn out to vote in the same numbers as older people, and this killed Sanders’s momentum. See Jack Holmes, The Bernie Sanders Youth Revolution Was Nowhere to Be Found on Super Tuesday.
Next Tuesday there will be primaries in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington state. In 2016 Sanders won the primaries in Idaho, Michigan, North Dakota, and Washington. If he doesn’t win at least a couple of those, especially the critical state of Michigan, it’s going to be really hard to argue he’s got a path to the nomination or a claim to being the best person to take on Trump.
So that leaves us with Joe Biden. Paul Waldman wrote,
There is little or no evidence, anecdotally or in data, that Biden’s momentum is built on a groundswell of passionate enthusiasm for the former vice president. Even before last week, the heart of Biden’s argument was a pragmatic one. I’m the electable candidate, he said, and many of the voters who supported him said that though they might have liked someone else better, their only concern was beating Trump, and Biden seems like the best one to do it.
There’s a lot going on in that “seems,” however. As I argued repeatedly (to no avail), making your primary choice on electability is a fool’s errand, because you’re almost certainly wrong about what makes someone electable; again and again in recent history, we’ve seen electable candidates like Mitt Romney or John F. Kerry lose, and supposedly unelectable candidates like Barack Obama or Donald Trump win.
Trying to figure out who other people will like inevitably leads you to gravitate toward candidates that talking heads in the media tell you other people will like, and their thinking is dominated by conservative, establishment ideas (e.g. that what you need is a moderate older white man).
To be clear, that doesn’t mean Biden can’t or won’t win, should he be the nominee. He can and he might. It’s not that encouraging, however, that he has fallen into such a strong position despite his campaign being characterized by a weak organization, mediocre fundraising and a candidate whose performance on the trail has been erratic at best.
So it wasn’t Biden’s shrewd strategy or blinding charisma that put him where he is today. It was a collective decision on the part of voters to do what they decided was the pragmatic thing — especially black voters, who tend to be the most pragmatic of all.
He really is something like Hillary Clinton 2.0, in some ways, although Joe is generally more likeable. If he’s the one who can get the suburban and black votes, maybe he is the best person to beat Trump. He’s going to need a lot of surrogates to help him in the general election campaign, because I’m not sure he’s got much fight in him. And the campaign against him will be unimaginably dirty. But maybe desire to get rid of Trump will be enough.
But then we’ll be saddled with Joe Biden as POTUS. I’m hearing a lot of people say they may start to focus more on helping Democrats take the Senate, because a Republican Senate and a Joe Biden administration is not something they want to even imagine. Probably a good idea.