Thanks for reading our newsletter. In this issue, Chief Research Officer Bryon Allen, Ph.D. reviews how former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to win the nomination is right on schedule despite the remaining challenge by Senator Bernie Sanders. – Michael D. Cohen, Ph.D., CSO, WPA Intelligence
Bernie Busts and Biden Booms
By Bryon Allen, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer
As the dust clears after Super Tuesday and states not named California or Colorado have wrapped up their vote count, it has become increasingly likely that Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee. Biden has the endorsement advantage and is polling ahead nationally, ahead in Michigan (the next big state to vote), and way ahead in Florida (which votes in two weeks).
The thing is, maybe it was always going to be Biden. A lot of pundits used 2016 as a template for what would happen in this election, especially after Bernie kind of won Iowa and won New Hampshire.
But Bernie isn’t Trump. If anything, he’s the opposite of Trump. Trump was a highly unconventional candidate with pretty orthodox positions on key Republican issues: life, guns, taxes, and border security. Where he diverges from some Republicans, such as on trade and deployments of troops abroad, he still represents one of several strands within the party on issues where there isn’t full agreement.
Bernie, on the other hand, is a highly conventional candidate. With 16 years in the House and 13 in the Senate following almost a decade as a Mayor, he’s been in elected office longer than Pete Buttigieg has been alive. But Bernie is not an orthodox Democrat. His stated positions are on the extreme left flank of the party (and his open affection for communist and socialist dictators) are simply out of step with even a Democratic Party that continues to veer leftward.
While the media was salivating over Bernie as the Democrats’ Trump, Biden was making the argument that he was effectively running for the third Obama term, essentially running the race that he skipped in 2016 due to the death of his son.
The primary calendar worked against Biden as he was never going to beat Bernie in a caucus in Iowa, and New Hampshire posed the dual problem of being in Bernie’s back yard and being a place where they often vote for the heterodox candidate.
Biden called his shot: barely compete in Iowa or New Hampshire, finish second in Nevada (where the caucus structure again worked against him), and then win South Carolina as the “first primary that is representative of the Democratic Party.” It was a risky strategy as fundraising and earned media attention would be running short by South Carolina, but by convincing key establishment Dems to withhold endorsements until after South Carolina, and by relying on a few key old friends like Jim Clyburn to act when needed, it worked out for Biden.
By playing out the script exactly as he had written it, Biden could claim that he was the front-runner all along. We’ve seen the rapid consolidation of establishment support after his South Carolina win, and we will continue to see it after his strong Super Tuesday.
This is another way that 2020 isn’t 2016. The Democratic establishment, which is really the Obama establishment now that the Clintons have embarrassingly exited stage left, is much more unified than the post-Bush Republican establishment was. It’s much easier for them to pull strings, get sitting Senators and Mayors with big aspirations to quit the race, and unify endorsements around Biden.
We’re seeing the rapid consolidation of both support and delegates around Crazy Uncle Joe. If he wins Michigan next week (likely) and has a big win in Florida in two weeks (all but certain), he’s the Democratic nominee before we get more than halfway through March. And perhaps, the pieces are falling exactly as planned.