Joe Biden: the grandfather back

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Joe Biden: the grandfather back

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You could almost hear the collective expiration of the establishment after Joe Biden’s resounding victory in South Carolina on Saturday evening. Finally, on the fourth sample of this remarkably polarized democratic primary, Bernie Sanders encountered a barrier, the African-American vote. The former vice president can now credibly face Mr. Sanders in the primary group over the next few days. But Mr. Biden’s victory should not yet be confused with a national dynamic. He owes a lot to James Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina, whose moving approval last week was cited by nearly half of black voters as influencing their choice. In this regard, all policy is local. In addition, Mr. Biden spent almost all of his time and money winning the state at the expense of the biggest next week.

Yet he is back from the living dead. In 1992, Bill Clinton became “the kid back” after finishing second in New Hampshire. Mr. Biden has now earned the nickname “returning grandfather”. It would take a change of ocean to convert the momentum it takes from South Carolina to lead the sweep of the Super Tuesday next week. Biden follows Sanders in double-digit national polls. Many large states, including California, where Sanders’ leadership has been prohibitive for weeks, have already recorded unusually high advance polling rates. Next Tuesday, the most likely result is that Mr. Sanders comes out on top and there is a fight between Mr. Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren for second place. It is hard to believe that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar will not follow Tom Steyer’s example by withdrawing. None of them is likely to win one of the 14 states that voted on Tuesday.

At this point, the Democratic establishment will have to unite behind a non-Sanders candidate – assuming it is not already too late. If the party wants to convert the relief on Saturday evening into a workable hope, it should persuade Bloomberg to withdraw from the race. It has been obvious for several weeks that the unintended beneficiary of the former New York mayor’s record spending has been Mr. Sanders. It is hard to imagine that Mr. Bloomberg can be persuaded to give up just 72 hours before his name first appears on a ballot. He released a three-minute ad in the prime time window this Sunday morning to address America on the coronavirus. Logic suggests that Mr. Bloomberg would have a much greater impact if he spent this money on Mr. Biden. Emotion will no doubt dictate the opposite.

The situation is rich and potentially bitter with irony. Mr. Bloomberg entered the race in November after concluding that Mr. Biden was too weak to take a left (Mrs. Warren was then in the lead, not Mr. Sanders). However, it has become increasingly evident that his presence is the greatest obstacle to the appointment of Mr. Biden. Mr. Bloomberg could continue running for the White House for several lives without exhausting his personal wealth. “United we are” is a song from the left. Big Democrats should try to convert Mr. Bloomberg to this way of thinking as quickly as possible.

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