Democrats had a terrible launch to the 2020 primary season, and they know it.
The Associated Press reports that Democrat party leaders “are on edge over embarrassing technical issues that marred this past week’s Iowa caucuses, as well as lower than expected turnout in the leadoff state.” Adding to their anxiety are the doubts of the political viability of the so-called frontrunners, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, and the charges of sexism being raised by the supporters of Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
The turbulent start to this election year has also crystallized the challenges confronting Democrats in trying to mount a formidable challenge to an incumbent backed by an energized and united Republican Party and fortified by a soaring economy.
“We’re capable of shooting ourselves in the foot,” warned Jim Hodges, an ex-South Carolina governor who supports former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 race. Hodges is among those who predict that Sanders, a Vermont senator who is a self-described democratic socialist, would be a weak general election candidate.
Joe Biden, the longtime frontrunner in the race, at least in national polls, came in a distant fourth in the Iowa caucuses, and by his own admission during the debate, won’t do much better in the New Hampshire primary. Pundits have long seen him as the party’s best chance against Donald Trump, but back-to-back losses in the first two primary election contests put his candidacy on death watch, as his campaign now faces money problems and a staff shake-up. No definitive winner has been called yet because of reporting problems in Iowa, but Buttigieg and Sanders head into New Hampshire with more momentum.
This, of course, poses a major problem for the party. Sanders easily defeated Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire back in 2016 and is expected to do well again in 2020.
The last candidate to lose both Iowa and Hampshire and still win the Democratic Party nomination was Bill Clinton.
Adding to Biden’s troubles is the self-funded campaign of Mike Bloomberg, who was utterly trashed during Friday night’s debate but has managed to buy his way onto the stage at the next debate in Nevada, as well as the support of Democrat primary voters by spending millions and millions of dollars in campaign ads.
Make no mistake about it, Biden’s campaign is on life support, and so are the Democrats’ chances of winning in November.
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