Based on voting demographics, Joe Biden knew he was going to do poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire. He may not have known he was going to do this poorly. But if he’s going to get the nomination, it’ll be based on nonwhite voter turnout in the diverse states we’re now heading into. Trying to gauge the viability of his campaign by looking at his Iowa and New Hampshire results is like trying to gauge someone’s swimming talent by asking them to do a pole vault. Here’s the thing, though.
Everyone in the media knows that Iowa and New Hampshire don’t really tell us who’s going to be the Democratic nominee. Most people in the media play along with the notion that Iowa and New Hampshire do tell us something, because it’s easy to get ratings when they play up those two states as being important. They can also then turn around and claim a “miracle comeback” when a candidate who’s polling well with nonwhite voters suddenly starts doing well once the diverse states start voting. This brings us to Mike Bloomberg.
Mike Bloomberg is doing a lot of unusual things with his campaign. He’s the moderate former Mayor of a diverse big city, which probably wouldn’t have gotten him very far with Democratic primary voters in Iowa or New Hampshire, so what did he do? He skipped them. Technically, he waited so long to enter the race that those two states skipped him (ballot deadlines and such), meaning he didn’t have to risk offending those states – or risk getting bad headlines – by skipping those states.
So now we have the media writing off Joe Biden’s campaign as being dead because he dutifully went through the motions in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he wasn’t going to do well anyway, even as the media insists that Mike Bloomberg has “momentum” because he skipped those states and doesn’t have any proverbial blood on his shirt. The lesson here is apparently that Biden should have entered the race and skipped Iowa and New Hampshire too.
Of course none of this matters. If nonwhite voters turn out for Joe Biden in a manner similar to what the polls are predicting in Nevada and South Carolina, then he’s two weeks away from getting the “miracle comeback” label, and being seen as the “new frontrunner.” If Biden doesn’t get strong nonwhite voter turnout, he’s toast. But Biden was always going to be toast if he didn’t get strong nonwhite voter turnout in these states, even if he had done decently in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The fate of Mike Bloomberg’s candidacy is harder to quantify at this point. We don’t know if he’ll do well with black voters in light of the “stop and frisk” controversy. We also don’t know if his strategy of entering the race late, skipping the debates, and running ads aimed directly at Trump are going to translate to broad support overall. But ask yourself this: if Bloomberg had participated in Iowa and New Hampshire with middling results, would he have been in as good of shape as he is right now? You really have to wonder if more candidates in the future will start entering the race after Iowa and New Hampshire.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report