One of PPFA’s most loyal readers and commenters, “NP,” recently quipped that he was hoping for twice daily posts down the stretch. It was a request I simply could not oblige. When I promised to give you daily posts for the final week, I was giving you all I could.
That said, I thought on this spooky full moon Halloween, I would give NP and other PPFA readers a surprising second post. BOO!
As you’ll soon see, however, I’m kind of cheating here. Most of this column pulls from earlier posts for the purposes of reflecting on the rise of Joe Biden to where he is now: one election from becoming the 46th President of the United States.
Before I get to quite a bit of boastful summary, please know that I am fully away of past mis-predictions. Though in this election cycle I must claim quite a bit of success, I’m aware that sometimes I’m just as wrong. Nonetheless, I think I have a good handle on the electorate this time around, which does give me a bit more confidence than I had 47 months ago. To illustrate, I hope you forgive a slight detour down recent memory lane.
One week after the 2018 midterms, I debuted my tiers of Democratic contenders for the 2020 nomination. In the top tier I listed the names Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden.
O’Rourke, I’ve admitted, was the biggest misfire of my initial analyses. Harris and Warren were seen as the oddsmakers’ favorites. I, however, installed Biden as my initial favorite. I determined:
“Of all these candidates, I’d give him the best chance to win if nominated, and I think general election viability — in other words, the ability to evict Trump from the White House — will be Democratic voters’ top priority.“
As the primary unfolded, we indeed saw that attribute as the most highly valued by Democratic voters. In mid-January of 2019, after a few candidates had already declared but Biden had not, I still waited for his inevitable and perhaps necessary candidacy. When I introduced my Power Rankings theme of the primary — comparing candidates to objects in our solar system — I noted how Trump was like the sun: “enormous, yellowish-orange, spews weird stuff in every direction, and it seems like our entire lives revolve around him.” Such a gargantuan figure in our politics dwarfed other political figures, I argued, and to compete Democrats “will need someone with Jovian mass. (Or should I say… Joevian?)“
In March 2019, I started my monthly Power Rankings. Biden was installed on top despite him not having even entered the race. I pointed out that Biden performed the best in head-to-head polls against Trump, thanks “to those ‘lunch-pail’ old school Democrats across the industrial rust belt that defected to Trump in 2016.” Biden has since built up consistent leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and he’s even pulled about even in what was once an assumed Republican 2020 win, Ohio.
Biden maintained the top spot in all monthly Power Rankings save a couple in the late autumn, when he placed second to a sizzling Elizabeth Warren before I ended her campaign.
By January of this year, however, Biden was back on top in my eyes. Meanwhile, pundits emphasized the trouble lurking for him in February’s early states and Michael Bloomberg’s bank account after that. Many believed these looming problems would derail his campaign.
In contrast, PPFA, level-headed as ever, divined the following (get a load of this!):
“I suspect many won’t accept Biden’s favorite status until Super Tuesday. That’s because there’s a decent chance February won’t be kind to this front-runner. . . . There’s a decent chance he finishes fourth in Iowa. If that happens and Buttigieg or Klobuchar wins it, Biden could even finish fourth in New Hampshire after the Iowa winner surges. . . . But here’s the thing: Biden is the only candidate who doesn’t need a great February. . . . Even if Sanders wins the first two states, almost all of the Buttigieg and Klobuchar support, to say nothing of the remaining party apparatus, would likely run to Biden as the last non-Bernie resort. . . . Biden will still win South Carolina and sweep the south on Super Tuesday.”
I re-emphasized all those points in my final pre-Iowa prediction of the Democratic Primary, when I picked Biden as the nominee.
Biden indeed struggled early, but picked up the support of moderates as they dropped off. When the primary went south, so did Bernie Sanders’s chances, and Joe Biden won the primary.
So what’s the point? Obviously it was to brag. Other than that, it was to show that I think, unlike 2016 when Trump caught PPFA with its pants down (PPFA’s Ps), I have a good pulse on the electorate this time around.
I plan on putting my hot streak to good use on Tuesday when I lock in my predictions. In between, of course, my daily posts will continue (though only once a day — sorry, NP).