Former Vice President Joe Biden seemed to have it made when he entered a crowded Democratic presidential primary race last April. His name recognition was sky high, his moderate stances were allegedly a boon to his electability, and he was also a preferred candidate for Washington insiders and purse keepers. Did I also mention that he was the buddy of President Obama, a man dearly missed by those suffering under the Trump presidency?
Aside from a single day in October, Biden led polling from several months prior to his entry into the race until February 10. That’s when Bernie Sanders overtook him.
This was one week after a fourth place finish in the Iowa caucuses, earning him only six delegates and 13.7 percent of the vote. It was also the day before a stunning fifth place finish in New Hampshire, where he captured just 8.4 percent of the vote and earned no delegates.
With the superdelegate process broadly reformed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Biden won’t be saved from the Vermont socialist by his Washington buddies, unless the DNC moves to a brokered convention. What helped Hilary Clinton overcome Sanders in 2016 is no longer an option in 2020.
Such a situation assumes staying power that Biden has not demonstrated. Since peaking at 41.4 percent in national polling in May of 2019, Biden has fallen to new lows, sitting at just 17.8 percent at the time of this writing.
Biden isn’t just ceding ground to progressives like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Former Republican Mike Bloomberg and former mayor Pete Buttigieg are quickly gaining ground on the once favored candidate.
Super Tuesday will come and Biden will likely reassess his campaign. Fourteen states with a total of 1,357 delegates up for grabs could change things. If Biden makes out well on that one day of manic activity, he could be the frontrunner again.
But this overlooks the fact that once probable Biden supporters are starting to lose faith in the candidate. Biden even responded to one of these questioning voters by calling her (supposedly in jest) a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier.” Not the most presidential response from the most electable Democratic candidate.
Biden faced further questioning about the flagging status of his campaign by a voter in Reno, who asked, “What the heck is going on here?” Biden reiterated the question, stated it was a good one, and then utterly failed to answer it, according to Politico.
That he had so little to say on the matter indicates that he is uncomfortable and lacking answers. If his campaign issues were easily diagnosed, one would think that he would have better responses for concerned voters, rather than calling them “lying, dog-faced pony soldier[s].”
Until he figures out “what the heck is going on,” Biden is no longer the front runner. He’s quickly running out of time to stake a claim to the nomination, and unless he does that, it won’t matter how electable he actually is in a race against Donald Trump.
You have to win your preliminary race before you can hope to compete in the final. Right now Biden isn’t even close to doing that.
Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, all stand out from the field because of who they are or because of the policies they espouse. Biden, in comparison, is just bland.
With a long history and troubling present of changing political stances, Biden has fallen victim to the perennial political problem diagnosed by Christopher Lasch in his 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism:
The contagion of unintelligibility spreads through all levels of government. It is not merely that propagandists fall victim to their own propaganda; the problem goes deeper. When politicians and administrators have no other aim than to sell their leadership to the public, they deprive themselves of intelligible standards by which to define the goals of specific policies or to evaluate success or failure.
With little regard for policy positions, and no aims other than being president, is it any wonder that Biden has listlessly drifted behind the rest of the Democratic field?
[Image Credit: Flickr-Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0]