Oct. 22, 2015 — Despite media reports predicting that Vice President Joe Biden would enter the presidential race early in the week, yesterday he officially announced that he will not, saying his “window of opportunity had closed.”
As we had stated here earlier, Biden had three obstacles to overcome, none of which appeared easy to traverse. First, to which he referred in his Rose Garden announcement, the time was fast elapsing when he could reasonably develop a campaign from the ground up, in terms of building both a fundraising and grassroots political organization.
Because of his longstanding career in national politics, Biden wouldn’t have been starting a national campaign at political ground zero, but would have been uncomfortably close. The vice president already realized that he was likely past the point of no return to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire, thus leaving South Carolina as the state where he could make his first stand against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT). This would have made generating any serious momentum very difficult when already two highly publicized voting events would be completed before a Biden campaign even realistically began.
Second, constructing an organization that could raise millions of dollars quickly in $2,700 maximum increments during such a short time frame would also have been an arduous task regardless of his current political position. Yes, Super PACs would have quickly formed to support him and could have bundled large sums in short order, but he would still need a sizable amount of funding to directly control. As we know, candidates and their staffs can have no say in how Super PAC money is spent.
Third, his polling standing wasn’t particularly strong, especially for a sitting vice president. In most national polls Biden was third, usually around the 20 percent mark. It would be reasonable to assume that his numbers would improve when he actually became a candidate but beginning so far behind front-runner Clinton, usually well beyond 20 points, would make winning delegate votes in primaries and caucuses a very tall political order. Convincing party leaders and elected officials who would become Democratic Super Delegates was an additional problem. Most of this group is concerned only with finding a candidate who can win the general election, suggesting that most would not immediately abandon early commitments to Hillary Clinton.
With Biden jettisoning the presidential race, Oct. 21 may now be looked upon as the day Clinton unofficially won the Democratic nomination. With remaining minor candidates Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee being non-factors, a head-to-head battle with self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders will easily go Clinton’s way.
Though Sanders is polling better than anyone might have believed when he first announced for president last May, he has little chance of over-taking the former Secretary of State and First Lady.
While he may do very well, and perhaps win, both Iowa and New Hampshire, the Sanders campaign dies when the southern states begin to vote. The Vermont senator simply has no path to victory south of the Mason-Dixon line. He does poorly among the more conservative Democratic primary voters, and has virtually no standing with African Americans. This latter group is dominant in southern Democratic nominating events.
Turning to the west, Sanders could do well in the Pacific Northwest, but will be overwhelmed by Clinton’s resources in California. Since the Democrats employ a pure proportional system in all states, he would have to actually place first in California in order to reap a serious bevy of delegates. Though he might do well in certain sectors of the state, the San Francisco Bay Area and Hollywood for example, Clinton is likely to dominate him in the other major population centers and certainly within the large minority communities strewn throughout both southern and northern California.
The Democratic campaign’s current definitive nature will likely deflect almost all of the political attention to the Republican side, where the path to a brokered convention remains distinctly clear.