Biden proves old dogs can learn new tricks

Biden proves old dogs can learn new tricks
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It’s been only two months since the first delegate selection contest in Iowa, but we’ve already selected almost 40 percent of the delegates, and we have learned a lot. There will still be a lot of thrills and spills on the roller coaster ride to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, but we have learned a thing or three by now.

It’s no run being the frontrunner.

The Democratic presidential primary is like the New England weather. If you don’t like it, just wait 15 minutes for it to change.


All the candidates wanted to be the frontrunner, but they should be careful what they wish for. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE started out as the big favorite to win the nomination before he tanked. Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls Senate Democrats want hearing on Pentagon vaccine effort MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden pushes into Trump territory The Hill's Campaign Report: One week from Election Day | Biden looks to expand map | Trump trails narrowly in Florida, Arizona The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands MORE (D-Calif.) and former South Bend Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegConservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls LGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration MORE all had their days in the sun before they were forced out. After victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom MORE (I-Vt.) was in the driver’s seat, but he faltered on Super Tuesday, and now Biden is back on top.

But Biden shouldn’t get too comfortable. Primary voters want to pick the nominee themselves. That’s why Democrats like to take the frontrunners down a notch after the pundits anoint them. So be prepared for surprises on the next two Tuesdays when 10 states hold primaries and caucuses to select another 942 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Now that the former vice president is back on top, will Democrats turn around and knock him down again? Hold on to your hat, Joe, it will be a wild ride on the road to Milwaukee.

The glass ceiling is still intact

Four female Democratic members of the United States Senate ran for president. As senators, all four of them, Warren, Harris, Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Minn.) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) started the race as credible presidential candidates but none of them made it past Super Tuesday. Warren was the last of the four sitting female senators standing, and she left the race three days before International Women’s Day.

Ironically, a large majority of the Democrats voting in primaries and attending caucuses this year are women. Because women are such a major presence in the party, the male nominee will be under great pressure to pick a woman as his running mate. If Biden wins the nomination, Warren could serve as a bridge between the moderate nominee and the progressive wing of the party. Klobuchar proved to be a skilled debater, and a Midwestern presence would benefit both Biden and Sanders. Harris just endorsed Biden but her presence on the ticket could help Sanders reach out to African American voters who are supporting Biden so far by a four to one margin.


A political insider has advantages, even in the age of anti politics

Insurgents like Bernie Sanders and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE get all the attention, but Joe Biden just demonstrated that insiders with big time political skills can still get it done.

Biden had as good a four-day stretch as any presidential candidate has ever had between the day of the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday. After Sanders’ impressive victory in Nevada, the former vice president was hanging on by his fingernails. But he turned everything around with a big victory in South Carolina, which cascaded into a big win on Super Tuesday.

He assembled an impressive coalition of African American and moderate white Democratic primary voters in the South, and he did it with hardly any money. Moderate white Democrats and black Democrats dance to different drummers, but both groups groove to the Biden beat. He has been able to pull them together into a coalition based on their belief that he can take down their common enemy, Donald Trump.

The Biden revival started with his endorsement by the influential African American Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina days before the primary there. Biden’s big victory in South Carolina ended Sanders’ win streak and brought the former vice president endorsements by three of the moderate Democratic presidential candidates who had left the race, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The day after Super Tuesday, another moderate, former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBloomberg spending millions on Biden push in Texas, Ohio Texas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in MORE dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Biden too. Meanwhile, the Vermont senator’s major progressive challenger, Elizabeth Warren, also dropped out, and her failure to endorse Sanders spoke volumes.

Even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Biden’s ability to work with other politicians has always been his strength as a senator from Delaware and as Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Health Care: Trump testing czar says rise in cases is real | Obama rips Trump's pandemic response | CDC: Increasing numbers of adults say they wear masks Trump calls Fox 'disappointing' for airing Obama speech Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as 'fake' after Obama hits Trump's tax payments MORE’s vice president. Now in his third presidential campaign, he has finally learned how to leverage that skill into a winning campaign strategy.

When Americans change presidents, they like to go from one extreme to another. Think about the transition from Obama to Trump or Richard Nixon to Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Davis: On eve of tonight's debate — we've seen this moment in history before Obama urges voters to back Graham challenger in South Carolina MORE (with a short detour). The incumbent president is the ultimate insurgent who has had only one major legislative success, his disastrous tax proposal, even though he has occupied the White House for more than three years. Americans might want to do a 180 and elect an insider who can work with Congress and make the trains run on time for the first time since Barack Obama was the engineer.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Deadline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.