Following a pair of humiliating also-ran finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, erstwhile Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden's campaign appeared to be on life support. He fell out of first place in the national polling, saw his lead in his 'firewall' of South Carolina dwindle considerably, and watched as donors and supporters started to seek out other options. But are the former Vice President's fortunes once again on the rise? A confluence of events appears to be working in Biden's favor, but there's a catch. Read on. First came a relatively strong debate performance (grading on a Biden curve) in front of a largely affirming and supportive crowd. Then came an endorsement from a prominent South Carolinian in James Clyburn, an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Nancy Pelosi's House leadership team:
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn endorses Joe Biden: "Our challenge is making the greatness of this country accessible and affordable for all. ... Nobody with whom I've ever worked in public life is any more committed ... than Joe Biden" https://t.co/7G0toYlQsa pic.twitter.com/NQf04n29Yg— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 26, 2020
I'll note that Clyburn is not above shameless race-baiting and has refused to denounce an appalling bigot, which would surely be a bigger media angle if this were a Republican endorsement, but it is what it is. Up next was this poll, the results of which look a lot closer to Biden's previously commanding standing in the Palmetto State:
Biden by 18 (!) in SC. https://t.co/HUM2qLJeGD was best poll in 2016.— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) February 26, 2020
A comfortable Biden win is looking increasingly likely in South Carolina, as he's now climbed back ahead by double digits in the polling average. And as a number of analysts have pointed out, South Carolina primary polling often underestimates the vote share of the candidate performing strongest among older black voters. That would be Joe Biden in this race. So let's say Biden registers a resounding victory on Saturday. Then what? Bloomberg, still reeling from a terrible opening debate showing (with many viewers unimpressed again after Tuesday's follow-up), appears to be fading:
Bloomberg is in quite a lot of trouble. His national polls have stalled out or begun to reverse themselves. He's fallen to 11% in our CA polling average. In other Super Tuesday states, we aren't seeing the leads we saw pre-NV debate; it's a lot of stuff in the teens and low 20s.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 26, 2020
Could Bloomberg's anti-momentum join forces with Biden's momentum and finally put a major dent in Bernie Sanders' march toward a delegate plurality or majority? It would certainly place Biden back as the chief (and arguably most viable) anti-Bernie alternative, but despite the aforementioned good news for Biden, the DNC's 2020 rules could actually help Sanders consolidate his lead under this scenario:
If Bloomberg were to slip just enough to be in the 12-14.9% range in a bunch of states ?— say if a Biden win in SC brings some voters back ?— that'd be a huge gift to Sanders's bid to amass more delegates. https://t.co/NT4nV9s0BA— Taniel (@Taniel) February 26, 2020
Expect to read a lot more about the 'Bloomberg as spoiler' effect if more data like this emerges -- and may I remind you that Super Tuesday is very, very soon:
With Bloomberg on the Texas ballot:— Ed Espinoza (@EdEspinoza) February 26, 2020
Without Bloomberg on Texas ballot:
Gabbard 1#txelge #txdem #tx2020 #TexasPrimary
Texas is a huge prize, but the biggest delegate haul will be in California, where Sanders is up big:
Another new survey produced a similar result, except no one else hit the 15 percent threshold for statewide delegates. That's the bad news for the anti-Bernie crowd, as is the reality that Biden is still...Biden. I'll leave you with Bernie going for the Super Tuesday kill on two rivals:
Bernie Sanders just added a pre-Super Tuesday rally/concert with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats in St. Paul, MN.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 26, 2020
He added two Massachusetts events yesterday to his schedule.
Knocking off Warren and Klobuchar in their home states a key part of his Super Tuesday strategy.
UPDATE - Now this is very good news for Biden, if it holds:
Maybe praising Fidel Castro isn't a smart move in Florida by the candidate who finds himself a distant third in this survey? And these projections about Super Tuesday, while still strong for Sanders, don't look as insurmountable as they could.