Apparently there are folks out there who were surprised by what they saw happen yesterday in the Democratic primary race. The thing is, everything that happened yesterday was predictable, because it was all based on most likely outcomes. In fact, for anyone to have been caught off guard yesterday, they’d need to have been fed a remarkable amount of faulty political analysis.
For starters, Joe Biden was always going to win South Carolina. He was ahead in the polling averages in the state the entire time. MSNBC spent last week bending over backward to try to create a false picture that Sanders had a chance in the state, by only reporting on Biden’s worst poll numbers in the state, and then going even further by pretending that Biden’s lead in those polls was a statistical tie. All you had to do was turn off your television and look at the polling averages to see that Biden would win.
Jim Clyburn’s endorsement did cause Biden to win by a much larger number than the polls were predicting, but Biden would have won the state anyway. Come to think of it, it was always likely that Clyburn was going to endorse Biden, and it was always likely Clyburn’s endorsement was going to help Biden run up the score.
Moreover, it was always likely that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar were going to perform very poorly in South Carolina. There’s never been a primary race where black democrats in the south suddenly decided to change their vote based on what rural white voters in Iowa or New Hampshire decided to do. The only hope that Pete and Amy had in South Carolina was if their horrible poll numbers in the state had been wildly off all along, which was unlikely.
Once Amy and Pete washed out in South Carolina, it meant they weren’t going to do well with diverse voters anywhere, which meant they no longer had any shot at the nomination. Considering this only really left Biden and Sanders in the race, and the disdain that Amy and Pete have both shown toward Sanders’ false promises, it was always likely that they would support Biden once they dropped out. For that matter, once it was down to Biden or Sanders, other mainstream Democrats like Beto O’Rourke were likely to quickly come out of the woodwork to rally around Biden as well.
So what exactly about yesterday was supposed to have been a surprise? Everything that happened was based on most likely outcomes. None of it was based on unlikely outcomes. Sure, there were minor variables in play, such as precisely when Pete and Amy would drop out. But if yesterday’s events hadn’t happened yesterday, they’d have likely happened by the end of the week. If anyone was truly shocked that Joe Biden is now in the driver’s seat and mainstream Democrats are rallying behind him, it’s only because they’ve been listening to some remarkably bad political analysis all along.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report