After Iowa, five reasons for the decline and fall of 'frontrunner' Joe Biden

Lost in the shuffle of the Democrats' app fiasco in Iowa, the rubber-room swan song of House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, and the childish paper-ripping tantrum of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the candidacy of "frontrunner" Joe Biden looks headed for the dumpster.

To the extent known from the Iowa caucus ballots counted, Biden is in fourth place, winning just 15% of the caucus count, trailing Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, and just barely ahead of Amy Klobuchar. Unlike those first three, he gets no delegates for his efforts. He's also out of money. It's simply a disaster for Biden.

This is the guy whose entire rationale for running was that he was the guy most likely to Beat Trump.

"Biden has a big problem," said political lizard turned CNN commentator David Axelrod. That's euphem-speak for 'buh-bye Joe.' 

According to the New York Times, which ran an Associated Press item:

DES MOINES, Iowa — Joe Biden's third presidential bid enters a critical stretch after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses sent the former vice president on to New Hampshire with a skittish donor base, low cash reserves and the looming threat of billionaire rival Michael Bloomberg and his unlimited personal wealth.


That leaves some establishment Democrats, including some Biden supporters, questioning his contention that he'll reclaim clear front-runner status in the race against President Donald Trump once the primary fight moves beyond overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire to more racially diverse electorates. And it's a reminder of how Biden's previous presidential campaigns never advanced beyond Iowa.

Biden's whole pitch up until now has been that he's the most electable of the Democratic candidates, a man with an appeal that spanned from the white Midwestern working class "Reagan Democrats," to the black voters in the South who associated him with President Obama, to the mainstream Democratic establishment. Joe would be the one to bring in those votes together to forge a coalition to take down Trump. The RealClearPolitics poll of polls average consistently showed him in first place.

Here's the gooey coverage Biden got from the New York Times at the start of his race:

In a three-and-a-half minute video that focused on excoriating Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden presented himself as a steely leader for a country wracked by political conflict. Unlike the wide field of Democrats competing for the affections of the left, Mr. Biden avoided almost any talk of policy or ideology, signaling that he believes voters will embrace him as a figure of stability and maturity even in a partisan primary election.

In doing so, Mr. Biden, 76, is making a bet of sorts that the Democratic Party’s leftward shift in recent years has been greatly overstated, and that the moral clarity of his rhetoric and his seeming strength as a general election candidate will overpower other considerations for Democratic voters who tend to prize youth, diversity and unapologetic liberalism.

Biden's bust in Iowa might just show a change in that configuration on RealClear and it's already pretty telling that the Times chose to run an AP story as if to avoid the topic themselves.

What took him down? Likely number one was impeachment. Democrats, with a zero-chance focus on taking down Trump, shot arrow after arrow that bounced off Trump and landed onto House Biden, bringing to the voting public's attention the rarified and corrupt big dollar paydays that came to members of the Biden family as a result of Biden's vice presidency. Thomas Lifson, well before the impeachment debacle hit Trump, pointed out with pinpoint accuracy that Biden's corruption problems would come back to bite him. Biden's fawning press tried to cover for him, with all that "he did nothing wrong" blather but voters noticed.

Second reason he failed had to have been in his string of insults to voters. With the press covering for him, voters took matters into their own hands and asked Biden all about his corrupt deals. Instead of answering them with platitudes, Biden attacked them. He challenged an old fat Iowa farmer to a push-up match, engaging in fat-shaming and other insulting statements. He told another voter to "go vote for someone else." It raised questions: Did Biden want to be there? He seemed to wither like a hothouse protected flower when exposed to actual voters and it was clear he hated them. He lacked the press as a foil for his fight (as Trump did not), so ended up attacking the little guys. Big turnoff. Not a guy you'd want to have a beer with, according to the political-viability estimator. Nobody wants to vote for a mean old man who hates people.

Third, he got no Obama endorsement. Obama in fact had been reportedly telling allies that Joe couldn't cut it. After eight long years in the service of Obama, that's a pretty stinging rejection. Obama made the claim that he was waiting to see who would be the nominee, and Biden tried to cover the embarrassment up by saying he never sought the endorsement. But the non-endorsement stood out as a vote of no confidence. If Obama didn't want this guy - and at last glimpse, was tilting to Elizabeth Warren actually, why should voters?

Fourth, "Creepy Joe." As Andrea Widburg has noted, Biden's habitual handsiness at inappropriate times, to very inappropriate people, such as little girls, exposed him as a "deeply weird" man. He couldn't even stop himself. 

He's the creepy uncle that smart parents refuse to let babysit their children.  It doesn't mean he's ever done anything wrong; it just means there's that vibe.  

Why would anyone want a guy like that as their president?

Fifth, the only argument he had left was that he was electable. He wasn't in Iowa, a place that ought to have been a breeze for him, given his political visibility and the promise he held of Getting Trump. The sad sack couldn't even beat Bernie Sanders. 

Biden in fact has always been a sad sack, puffed up by the press and the swamp into being some kind of statesman when the reality was, he was a grubby little Willie Loman or Walter Mitty figure, redolent of the '40s, dreaming of grandeur.

It's pathetic stuff now because Joe's trajectory now looks downward. The polls, the press, the punditry all formed a protective coating around him, but Biden found a way to show his real self to the voters in Iowa and it comes as no surprise that they looked elsewhere. The rest of the country may do the same. 

Photo illustration by Monica Showalter, via public domain source, and image by Bangdoll via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you experience technical problems, please write to