He underperformed in Iowa, predicted his own demise in New Hampshire, and fled to South Carolina to save his presidential campaign. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Joe Biden—the kind that people will be looking back on months from now asking “what happened?”
Joe started out strong enough. In fact, he started out so strong that he was the runaway frontrunner for so long that none of his opponents dared to attack him over his most significant vulnerabilities—most notably his Ukraine quid pro quo. During the October debate, Cory Booker actually said, “If you come after Joe Biden you’re going to have to deal with me in this case.”
Really? I bet quite a few of Biden’s former opponents wish now they’d done more to go after him. They very well could have succeeded if they had dared to because Biden’s lead was always superficial and waiting to collapse. His campaign had been preparing for a loss in Iowa for months. He lost bigger than expected there, and again in New Hampshire. Instead of going to Nevada, where the next caucus is, Biden went straight to South Carolina to save what’s left of his African American support in the state and pull off a do-or-die victory there.
This is not how a winning campaign runs. Biden’s support has always relied upon African American voters and perceived electability. He’s already lost two important races and now his African American support has been crumbling. I saw this coming months ago. He’s never managed to run a successful campaign or win a primary election or caucus.
He first ran for president in 1988, but accusations of plagiarism put an end to that. In 2008, he was arguably one of the most experienced candidates running for president but was easily rejected in favor of the two least-qualified candidates: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. His best chance to be his party’s nominee was in 2016, but Obama and the party wanted Hillary Clinton.
The 2008 election proved that experience and qualifications mean nothing to Democrat primary voters. Biden’s experience wasn’t what made him the frontrunner; it was the fact that he was Barack Obama’s vice president. I wrote last March that “once Democrats realize Joe Biden is not Barack Obama, his poll numbers will decline.” Well, Iowa and New Hampshire helped Democrats, particularly African American voters, realize that Joe isn’t Barack Obama—no matter how many times he mentions him on the campaign trail.
What this primary campaign has shown us so far is that Joe Biden is nothing without Barack Obama. He failed epically in 1988 and 2008, and knew better than to try in 2016. It took Obama’s coattails to make him beloved by the Democrats who otherwise didn’t give a damn about him. Despite Biden’s claims that he specifically asked Obama not to endorse him in the primary, according to reports, Obama actually tried to get Biden not to run in the first place. Even Barack Obama doesn’t think too much of his former vice president, it seems. In 2008, Obama needed his experience to fill the incredible void of his own resume. That’s all he was good for, and once Obama got elected, Biden’s purpose was effectively fulfilled.
Now, we’re seeing exactly just how weak Biden has been, has always been, as a candidate. Without Obama, he’s just an old white guy who offers very little to a party that prefers promising “free” stuff over anything else.
Biden’s demise was always inevitable, but too many saw him as the second coming of Obama because he was Obama’s vice president, and forgot to realize that he’s nothing like what the base of the party wants in a candidate. Had they figured this out earlier they could have avoided the big mess the Democratic Party is about to get into with their long-presumed frontrunner crashing and burning.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis