Iowa and New Hampshire Losses Underscore an Uncomfortable Primary History for Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a campaign event, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

When news broke Tuesday that Joe Biden had canceled a New Hampshire primary party event and headed to South Carolina for a launch rally in advance of their Feb. 29th primary, one thing became crystal clear:


The writing is on the wall. His 2020 presidential campaign is for all intents and purposes over.

Last night, after it was certain that he wouldn’t even finish in the top 3 in New Hampshire, Biden vowed to continue his campaign. “It ain’t over man. We’re just getting started,” he told his South Carolina supporters.

But unfortunately for Biden, history is not on his side on multiple fronts.

First things first: Biden has never won a presidential primary or caucus in the three times he’s run for president:

He dropped out in 1987 due to a plagiarism scandal and withdrew in January 2007 after finishing 5th in the Iowa caucuses.

Secondly, he’s never finished higher than 4th place in any of them – including in this year’s Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary:

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly for Biden, since the 1970s, no Democratic candidate who failed to win in either Iowa or New Hampshire has gone on to win their presidential nomination:

If [Biden’s standing in Iowa and NH] holds, it will place Biden on the perilous side of history. Traditionally, the results from Iowa and New Hampshire play a dramatic role in winnowing and clarifying presidential fields. Since the dawn of the Democratic Party’s modern presidential primary system in the 1970s, no candidate has lost contested races in both Iowa and New Hampshire and still gone on to win the nomination.


Next up for Democratic presidential candidates on the caucus/primary schedule is the Nevada caucuses, which take place on February 22nd, and the South Carolina primary on the 29th. Biden and Sanders are running close races in Nevada, but it looks like Biden will have South Carolina in the bag.

But then there’s Super Tuesday on March 3rd, which likely will be the deciding factor for Biden as to whether or not to continue on. California is the state with the most delegates to give that day, and right now Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leads in polling averages.

After strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign will probably fade considering he lags badly in polling in SC, NV, and CA. Bernie, on the other hand, has a good chance of winning two of those three states. If he does, the Biden campaign would have little choice but to fold.

Stay tuned.


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