A US Election is a marathon like no other. Prior to the main event in November and all the related state, margin and electoral college markets, there are fifty primaries covering each state to resolve the Democrat Candidates. Primary season starts in a fortnight at the Iowa Caucus.
Since the Democrat race begun last summer, many candidates have come and gone. For the record, my book is currently red. I made some money from Beto Rourke’s early rise, but timed trades on Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg badly. An earlier lay of Bernie Sanders has since been reversed for a small loss. The less said about my opening 259/1 punt on Michael Avenatti, the better.
No matter – it is early days. Here’s my analysis of the top-seven candidates.
Underestimating Biden was a mistake. I doubted he’d run, let alone compete against a younger, more diverse crowd. Yet he leads by an average of 8% nationally.
Nevertheless, my fundamental doubts persist. That he is a very ordinary campaigner, who won’t generate enough enthusiasm among activists. When pressed, he will struggle to defend unpopular positions of yesteryear, shorn of their historic context.
So why hasn’t it? The lack of a clear, strong alternative. The fear among moderates of Sanders/Warren and their progressive agendas. Perhaps simply name recognition and familiarity. Doubtless aided by association with Obama, the former Vice President is dominant among black voters – a big chunk of the Democrat electorate.
That has powered Biden to an average 17% lead in South Carolina – fourth on the schedule. What happens before, in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, will have a profound effect. If winning one or more, he’ll be in a very strong position. However, defeat in both IA and NH has historically been very hard to come back from.
One potential positive – there is bound to be a big rise in turnout compared to 2016, driven to a large extent by moderates determined to stop Trump. Biden consistently polls best in this regard.