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Tags: electability | new hampshire | firewall | south carolina | campaign

Early NH Exit Raises Doubts About 'Most Electable' Biden

joe biden points as he walks among primary voters
Joe Biden (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 11 February 2020 05:12 PM EST

Former Vice President Joe Biden's decision to abandon New Hampshire early for South Carolina without attending his own campaign party has seemingly turned the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on its head.

Biden was still widely viewed as the front-runner in the race based on national polls, even after the "gut punch" he sustained last week with a fourth place finish in Iowa.

His early departure from New Hampshire will inevitably cast doubt on the fundamental premise of his campaign, namely, the notion he is the candidate with the best chance of beating President Donald J. Trump in November.

Biden said Tuesday he will continue to compete in other states beyond South Carolina, including Nevada, which wraps up its primary vote Feb. 22. His chief competitor in Nevada is a surging Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. indicated Tuesday he is skeptical Biden can rebound from the early setbacks.

"The whole South Carolina firewall thing has a Rudy Giuliani feel to it," Navarrette told Newsmax.

In 2008, Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, made a belated entrance into the GOP presidential primary race. But he suffered a devastating defeat in his "firewall" state of Florida and dropped out of the race the next day.

"If you've already lost three states before you get to South Carolina," Navarrette added, "then you've got a problem. It's not much of a firewall anymore, because even if you win South Carolina, it's only one out of four."

Only once in the past four decades has a Democratic candidate who lost in Iowa and New Hampshire gone on to capture the party's nomination – Bill Clinton in 1992.

Biden has a commanding lead in South Carolina, where African-American voters are expected to cast close to 60% of the ballots in its Feb. 29 Democratic primary. Navarrette said it will be quite interesting to see whether African-Americans stick with Biden, or "start to think this is a wasted vote and vote for somebody else."

One reason they might not desert Biden: An unappealing slate of alternative candidates.

Polls suggest none of the other top-tier Democrats in the race – Sanders, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. – is particularly popular with the state's African-American voters.

"That is a tough choice," says Navarrette, "it's like Biden or nobody. It's Biden or 'I'm staying home' if you're an African-American."

Hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer might be best positioned to siphon off some of Biden's strength in the Palmetto State. A January East Carolina University poll showed Steyer moving into second place ahead of Sanders.

But that poll shows Biden continues to enjoy a whopping 20-point lead in South Carolina over his nearest competitor: 39% to Steyer's 19%. Sanders tallied 14% in that survey, and Warren had 8%. reported Tuesday that Unite the Country, a Biden super PAC, is warning donors they must continue to support him.

Should Biden get knocked out, the PAC raised the specter of a divisive, brokered convention pitting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg against the party's progressive-socialist champions in Warren and Sanders.

Bloomberg is avoiding the primary fray until the March 3 Super Tuesday races, but is expected to compete in the party's Feb. 19 debate in Nevada.

Former New Hampshire GOP Gov. John H. Sununu told Fox News on Tuesday that South Carolina will likely Biden's last hurrah, contending he is "passe to the country and passe to the Democratic Party."

But supporters argue, Biden, no longer burdened by being the presumed frontrunner, will have a chance to re-establish his campaign. One reason that could happen: The March 3 Super Tuesday primaries include a number of Southern states that could give Biden a lift, including: Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

In theory at least, a strong showing in South Carolina followed by victory in three or more Super Tuesday states could give Biden a rationale for continuing his campaign.

The biggest Super Tuesday state by far is California with 415 pledge delegates. Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, by comparison, have only 119 pledge delegates combined.

The latest RealClearPolitics polling average for California shows Sanders leading at 25.8%, with Biden second at 21%. Warren has 19.8%.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Former Vice President Joe Biden seemingly turned the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on its head by abandoning New Hampshire early for South Carolina without attending his own campaign party, Newsmax's David A. Patten reports.
electability, new hampshire, firewall, south carolina, campaign
Tuesday, 11 February 2020 05:12 PM
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