Over the past four days Joe Biden has pulled off one of the biggest miracle comebacks in the history of American politics. After being non-competitive in the first three states, he’s managed to surge out of nowhere and put himself in either first place or a close second place in the delegate count, depending on how the final vote counting shakes out. So how did he pull off this comeback?
He didn’t. This was not a comeback. You can’t make a “comeback” when you’re not actually gone to begin with. Back when the media was preparing to obsess over Iowa and New Hampshire, Palmer Report predicted that Biden wouldn’t do well in those states, but that he would end up doing well in the more diverse primaries – and suddenly the media would call it a “comeback.” Sure enough, with some variances in the details, that’s pretty much happened.
For a whole lot of reasons, the most broadly appealing Democratic candidates generally tend to do the worst in states that are mostly white, and in states that use the highly un-democratic caucus format. Sure enough, the first three states all fit one or both of those criteria. I thought Biden would do a little better in Nevada than he did, but I should have known that the caucus format would more than cancel out the state’s diversity. It wasn’t until South Carolina, the first diverse state to use the primary format, where we finally got to see that Biden is the choice of the people.
Yes, Joe Biden was falling behind in the national polls as a result of his losses in the first three irrelevant contests, because people mistakenly thought he was faltering. And yes, Biden’s campaign was going broke, because his own would-be donors were being constantly told by the media that he was toast. But all it took was for Biden to finally reach a legitimate playing field in South Carolina, that wasn’t stacked in favor of narrowly-popular candidates.
Joe Biden didn’t make a comeback. He merely survived the absolute punchline of a three-week stretch that kicks off the primary voting in this country. You can be surprised by just how quickly and dominantly he’s now surging. But you shouldn’t be surprised that he surged at all. It was always the most likely outcome.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report