He probably flew to the wrong state.
After a disastrous fifth-place finish in New Hampshire’s primaries further imperiled his flagging campaign, Biden badly needs to prove he can actually win somewhere, anywhere. And Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucuses are up next.
“It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started,” Biden vowed Tuesday night in his South Carolina speech. “You can’t be the Democratic nominee, you can’t win a general election as a Democrat unless you have overwhelming support from black and brown voters.”
That’s true, and Nevada is the first state to vote whose demographics look anything like the broader Democratic Party after lily-white Iowa and New Hampshire cast their votes. Biden has long polled better with African-Americans and Hispanics than he has with white Democrats, and if he can somehow hold onto their support, he could still pull off a major turnaround.
But fair or not, the calendar is now Biden’s enemy — and his pitiful results in the first two states have taken the onetime chip leader and forced him to look for an inside straight draw for a comeback. (Yes, it’s Vegas. Get ready for some tortured gambling analogies).
“Biden needs to win here, and I think it’s very, very questionable whether he can,” Jon Ralston, the head of the Nevada Independent and the state’s best political analyst, told VICE News Tuesday night. “He looks crippled if not mortally wounded coming out of New Hampshire.”
Forget South Carolina
Biden’s supporters acknowledge how crucial Nevada is to turn around his flagging campaign. Surrogates have talked for weeks how things get easier after Iowa and New Hampshire (even though Biden was predicting a New Hampshire win as recently as November), and how Biden will reemerge with a black and brown coalition to win the nomination. Nevada is majority-minority and more than one third Hispanic.
“It’s very important for him to be strong there, and I think he will be,” Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), a top Biden surrogate in the state, told VICE News Tuesday afternoon. “He needs to be at the top of the list.”
Biden had a narrow lead in Nevada in the state’s most recent public polling, but that’s from nearly a month ago — an eternity after Iowa and New Hampshire. Momentum matters. And Biden did even worse in the first two states than his team had expected.