…from the Sabato Crystal Ball people….
How Biden endures
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Joe Biden doesn’t rhyme with Mitt Romney, although one of the words emblazoned on the side of Biden’s bus (malarkey) sort of does.
More to the point, we are beginning to wonder if the endurance of Biden at the top of the Democratic heap is beginning to resemble Mitt Romney’s endurance two cycles ago.
Despite his troubles, Romney seemed like the best bet to win the nomination for almost the entire campaign (except perhaps for when Rick Perry entered the race to great acclaim in August 2011).
The same may be true of Biden, although the race remains volatile. But Biden’s position is arguably stronger than Romney’s was at this time eight years ago.
In that 2012 race, Republican voters appeared at times quite willing to go with a different option than Romney. From late August 2011 through February 2012, Romney was surpassed no less than five different times in the national RealClearPolitics polling average, first by Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich (for two different stretches), and then, finally, Rick Santorum. Yet Romney always ended up back in the lead after his setbacks and emerged by the end of the first month of primary contests as the clear favorite to win the nomination (that year’s race started in January, not February). Romney benefited from split opposition as the primary season went along, with Santorum, Gingrich, and Ron Paul all cannibalizing the non-Romney vote.
Biden, meanwhile, has consistently led national polling. For a brief time in early October, Elizabeth Warren effectively tied Biden in the RealClearPolitics average, but Biden has since regained a decent-sized lead — he’s in the high 20s, with no one else within 10 points of his lead: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) along with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all clustered within the low-to-mid teens.
Romney did always have a firewall in one of the lead-off contests: New Hampshire, where he enjoyed something of a home state advantage owing to his time as Massachusetts governor. That’s an advantage Biden does not have. In the first two contests, Biden trails in Iowa and New Hampshire. However, he leads in Nevada and South Carolina, which round out the February contests before March 3’s Super Tuesday kicks off a three-week barrage of primaries.
Democratic voters have been sampling their other options, but they have not coalesced around a clear alternative to Biden….
Even after essentially an entire year of Democratic jockeying, Biden’s still the candidate to beat. That doesn’t mean he’s set to win the nomination — there are all sorts of plausible outcomes and nominees, perhaps even involving candidates who seem dead in the water now — but he’s been the leading candidate ever since he announced, and he still is.
Romney lost….I KNOW…
We’re talking about the nomination in this piece….