Former Vice President Joe Biden has been a staple of American politics for nearly half of a century, but his storied political career could be coming to an end, possibly as soon as Saturday.
Biden and his supporters have touted South Carolina as his “firewall,” noting his strong support among African American voters, which make up roughly 60% of the state’s primary electorate.
Biden is the favorite to win South Carolina, but not by a lot. The former vice president leads the rest of the field by just over 5%, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average. This would be an underwhelming “bounce back” for a struggling campaign that finished fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, and a distant second in Nevada. In other words, it’s hard to see a path forward for Biden if he doesn’t win and win big Saturday in the Palmetto State. (RELATED: Joe Biden Says He’d Consider Making A Republican His Running Mate)
“It might be too little too late for him,” Democratic Party activist and Fox News commentator Christopher Hahn told the Daily Caller. “I think he’s done great things for this country and would’ve been a great president.”
Biden currently has 15 delegates, well behind Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has emerged as the party’s front-runner. Biden likely needs to win big in South Carolina and over-perform on Super Tuesday in order to remain at the forefront of the race. Otherwise, there is virtually no path for him to get the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the nomination ahead of July’s Democratic National Convention. Biden’s chances of securing the nomination at a brokered convention would appear to be even more slim, considering his low online fundraising numbers and his relative lack of grassroots support. The former vice president has had to rely on billionaire donors for much of his campaign’s fundraising, but the two billionaires currently in the race are doing him no favors. (RELATED: Joe Biden’s Wife Admits That Other Candidates Might Be Better)
“I see no chance of him winning at a brokered convention,” Hahn said. “He doesn’t have the depth of support that some others do.”
Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer has been peppering the South Carolina airwaves with advertisements, and is polling third in the state behind Biden and Sanders. A candidate with not much of a path forward, Steyer has decided to remain in the race, and is currently taking roughly 15% of the vote in South Carolina, seemingly hampering Biden’s ability to pull away in the state. The late entrance of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also looks likely to hamstring Biden, as Bloomberg could receive support from states on Super Tuesday that Biden otherwise would have been favored in. Bloomberg’s entrance, especially, may have doomed Biden’s chances at the presidency. It’s been a rough month for the long-time Democratic leader, who spent all of 2019 as the party’s front-runner. (RELATED: Jorge Ramos Reminds Biden That Obama Administration Put Kids In Cages At The Border)
The former vice president has built his campaign on the argument that President Donald Trump represents a unique threat to the Republic, and that Biden is best positioned to defeat him in a general election. The electability argument appeared to work for a while, as Biden spent nearly a year at the top of national polls. However, that argument appears to have run its course as Biden still has not won a single contest in any of his three presidential runs.
“He’s run a lackluster campaign,” Hahn said. “He never really made the case to the Democratic electorate why they should pick him. If electability is your argument, you better start winning some elections.”
This hasn’t happened yet, and it’s now or never for the 77-year-old Biden. If this is Biden’s last hurrah, much will be written about the impact his career has had. Biden has been one of the most influential politicians in America for decades, having first been elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 30. During his 37 years in the Senate, Biden helped pass hundreds of pieces of legislation, served as chair of both the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committee, and was at the center of two of the most contentious Supreme Court confirmation battles of all time.
Yet, despite being elected by the people of Delaware seven times, Biden’s three presidential campaigns haven’t been as successful. Biden’s first run, during the 1988 campaign, ended unceremoniously following allegations that he plagiarized his speeches. Biden’s second run for president occurred in 2008, and was marred by racially insensitive gaffes, including his comments that “you cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts without at least a slight Indian accent.” That campaign ended in January 2008, after Biden finished with less than 1% in the Iowa Caucuses.
Biden’s third run for president started out with much more excitement as he held tight to former President Barack Obama’s coattails. However, Biden has once again run a messy campaign, dominated by gaffes, and questions about whether or not Biden has the stamina to sustain a presidential run at his advanced age. Biden’s three presidential campaigns will definitely be a part of his legacy, but it’s unlikely they will define his legacy.
“I think Americans on either side of the aisle can respect the work he’s done,” Hahn said. “He’s an inspirational guy, who came from nothing, who survived multiple tragedies, who was present at pivotal moments in our country.”
Indeed, Biden has been at the forefront of American politics longer than most Americans have been alive. As the former vice president gets set to make his last stand in South Carolina, his legacy is almost set in stone. He’ll have one more chance to add to it Saturday.