Joe Biden has had some tough breaks in life, so maybe it’s karma that, for two weeks, he was the luckiest man in the history of American politics.
Mike Bloomberg may be the unluckiest. But, hey, he’s made $60 billion in his life.
It started the night of Bloomberg’s first debate, Wednesday, February 19. I remember because I didn’t watch. I went to see my Wolfpack beat Duke. (Yes, Duke won the rematch. But we beat them by 22, and they beat us by only 19.)
During the game, somebody texted me that Elizabeth Warren was eviscerating Bloomberg. She turned into a heat-seeking, Bloomberg-blasting guided missile. He never recovered.
Then, on Saturday, Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the Nevada caucuses. Suddenly, he seemed poised to put the race away on Super Tuesday. Moderate Democrats panicked.
Then the coronavirus exploded. Americans panicked. President Trump’s response panicked his critics. The stock market panicked and took a scary, sickening dive. And kept diving.
Then, exactly one week after the debate, came James Clyburn. The South Carolina Congressman’s eloquent, emotional endorsement electrified Biden’s campaign. South Carolina turned into a rout. Remarkably, nearly half the voters there said Clyburn’s endorsement was an important factor in their choice.
A tip of the hat to Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling in Raleigh. When other polls said Biden, Sanders and Bloomberg were tied in South Carolina, Jensen said Biden might win by 20 points or more.
He won by nearly 30, and a stampede of endorsements began. Then came Super Tuesday.
This is Biden’s third race for President in 32 years – he ran in 1988 and 2008 – but he had never won a primary. Then he won 11 in four days.
It was an extraordinary political comeback. One day he was being pushed to withdraw; the next day, his opponents were withdrawing and endorsing him.
But hold on. The talking and tweeting heads who prematurely buried Biden are now prematurely crowning him.
Sanders is still a formidable foe. He raised a remarkable $46 million in February, way more than Biden has ever raised. Sanders has a committed army of true believers. His is no ordinary campaign; it’s a crusade.
James Carville argued on MSNBC Tuesday night that Sanders should get out of the race. James is a great arguer. I’ve known him since 1984, back before he was famous. But nobody can convince Sanders to get out.
If you watched both Sanders and Biden speak Tuesday night, regardless of how you feel about each one, you saw that Sanders’ speech was more strategically effective. He made his case against Biden – and against the political, financial and media establishment. Biden just shouted about how good it was to come back and win.
That’s understandable. But Sanders can say now what his opponents would say if he was the front-runner: there’s a long way to go, there are a lot of states still to vote and anything can happen.
Sanders may regret one thing he’s said: that a candidate who gets a plurality of delegates, but not a majority, should still get the nomination.
Politics, like basketball, is a game of runs. A steal and breakaway dunk can light up the crowd and ignite a comeback. Conversely, a turnover can beget more turnovers – and a loss.
This game isn’t even to halftime yet.