New Hampshire’s 2020 presidential primary is still more than eight months away. The two dozen candidates now in the race haven’t even faced off yet in debates. But the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is already over.
The winner: Joe Biden.
While the media will play up the expansive field — there are now 24 candidates vying for the nomination — and pretend there’s some kind of horse race (for ratings, of course), President Trump knows the game is done.
“Looks like Bernie Sanders is history. Sleepy Joe Biden is pulling ahead and think about it, I’m only here because of Sleepy Joe and the man who took him off the 1% trash heap, President O!” Trump wrote Monday on Twitter.
Let’s go to the numbers.
Sanders, who had been hovering around 23% in Real Clear Politics’ (RCP) poll average, plunged to about 15% when the former vice president entered the race. The latest Fox News poll puts Biden at 35% (up from 31% in March) and Sanders in a distant second, with 17% (down from 23%).
RCP puts together a running average of all polls. Here’s how that looks right now: Biden 38.3%; Sanders 18.8%; Sen. Elizabeth Warren 8.5%; Sen. Kamala Harris 7.3%; Mayor Pete Buttigieg 7.0%; former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke 3.8%; and Sen. Cory Booker 2.5%. The rest of the also-rans are polling at less than 2%.
In the latest Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday, the numbers stacked up like this: Biden 35%, Sanders 16%, Warren 13%, Harris 8%, Buttigieg 5%, O’Rourke 2%, and Booker 3%.
Wait, there’s more. Polling from some key states also puts Biden at the top. In the latest Quinnipiac poll for Pennsylvania — Biden’s birth state that Trump surprisingly won in 2016 — the race looks like this: Biden 39%, Sanders 13%, Warren 8%, Harris 8%, Buttigieg 6%, Booker 5%, and O’Rourke 2%.
Of course, things can change. They sometimes do.
Back in August 2003, Newsweek ran a cover story headlined: “Can anyone stop Howard Dean?”
“Who can stop Dean?” longtime political writer Howard Fineman wrote. “Joe Lieberman says nominating Dean would be a disaster for the Democratic Party. He may be right, but the way things look at this moment, the Democrats are going to get a chance to see if Lieberman is right.”
It turned out that Howard Dean could stop Howard Dean — dead in his tracks.
“Not only are we going to New Hampshire,” Dean screamed after he came in third place in the Iowa caucuses, “we’re going to South Carolina! And Oklahoma! And Arizona! And North Dakota! And New Mexico! We’re going to California! And Texas! And New York! And we’re going to South Dakota! And Oregon! And Washington and Michigan!”
Oof. Dean was done.
But Biden will make no such mistakes. And the other 23 candidates now in the race (with the exception, perhaps, of Sanders) are really just trying to get on the ticket as vice president.
The mainstream media, as it often does, is singling Biden out as the candidate to back. His history of touching women in an intimate way without their permission was aired over a week of accusations from victims, but the former vice president (sort of) apologized.
“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”
Then stories made the rounds of how Biden didn’t really back Anita Hill, the accuser of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. During an interview on “Good Morning America” last month, Biden said: “As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that.”
It’s no coincidence that Biden has been on an “apology tour” from even before he announced his run. He is a savvy politician, and he knew he had to address the very worst stories right way — and the MSM obliged. Now, those stories have disappeared. If and when they reappear, he’ll dismiss them with a simple, “Oh, that old story?”
When Biden, 76, said last year that he would he would “beat the hell out of” Trump if they were in high school. The president fired back.
“Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault,” Trump, 72, wrote on Twitter. “He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
While the two septuagenarians won’t face off in the ring, they will match up come November 2020. Bet the house on that.
*Joseph Curl ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2014 and covered the White House for a dozen years. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @JosephCurl. A version of this article ran previously in The Washington Times.