Joe Biden, who has been re-running Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, complete with that air of inevitability that didn't work for her and isn't working for him, had an unbelievably bad night last night, finishing in fifth place in the New Hampshire primary. This after being the alleged frontrunner for more than a year.
It was a disaster he could see coming, so he got on a plane and flew to South Carolina to be there instead of in New Hampshire when results came in. The cover story is that he flew to South Carolina because South Carolina is next, South Carolina is his firewall, even though South Carolina is not next—Nevada is, on February 22 (South Carolina is February 29)—and PS, just so you know, Joe, that so-called firewall is, uh, well, it appears it's being consumed by fire.
Biden's support among black Democrats dropped to 27 percent in the new poll, from 51 percent in December. And it appears that much of that support shifted to Bloomberg, who jumped to 22 percent support among black voters, followed by Sanders (19 percent), Warren (8 percent), and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (4 percent).
His support among African Americans in South Carolina specifically (where they make up two-thirds of the Democratic electorate) is not holding up any better than the national numbers.
"A new poll shows Joe Biden's lead in South Carolina is slipping," CBS reported a week ago, well before New Hampshire, citing data from the South Carolina's Post & Courier. Here's a Post & Courier editor talking about those results:
And, again, that was before Biden was shown to be a two-time loser in the first actual elections of 2020.
So what is it? What's Joe's problem? His inability to finish his own sentences? His inability to attack Trump in a way that lands? His weak and misty-eyed rhetoric about "the soul" of this county? His go-to response to any difficult question, which is that he knows Barack Obama? His incompetent "I'm not going to dignify that with a response"-type answers to questions about Hunter Biden? His support for the Iraq War? His lack of support for legalizing marijuana? His rambling stories about people with names like Corn Pop? His billionaire funders? His lack of vision for the future?
Yesterday, New York magazine published a devastating paragraph about what his stump speeches have been like as he has gotten more desperate:
At Biden’s recent events, he narrates various scenes of American horror in caps lock, screaming out in anguish: children in poverty, babies with no sweaters on, soup kitchens where people are hungry but they don’t take any more than they were given, fathers losing jobs, women being “smacked” by their husbands, cancer, and so on. He rarely connects these episodes to specific policy proposals. Their intended effect seems to be to explain that Biden does not just empathize internally, does not coolly feel your pain, but that he is shattered by the way we allow one another to live and to die, that he is practically crucifying himself to save the soul of America, even as he articulates no belief that our systems have any fundamental flaws that would never allow for such things as the eradication of poverty and child hunger and cancer.
The story, by Olivia Nuzzi, concludes:
There is an uncomfortable sense, watching him, that he’s grasping. And I guess that’s because he is. “The smell of death thing is a little premature,” a senior Biden staffer said. “But if he’s the winning candidate, we have to start winning.”
And remember: That was before New Hampshire results.
On the other hand, is anyone really surprised? As the executive editor of The American Prospect reminded us all yesterday: "Joe Biden has never finished higher than 4th in any primary or caucus in 32 years of running for president."