The Iowa and New Hampshire results have begun to clarify the choices Democratic voters will have in picking their candidate to face President Trump in November.

The grueling process of the last year has already eliminated several interesting and attractive candidates, including senators from New York, New Jersey and California. The primary race is an endurance contest — like a marathon made up of a series of 100-meter dashes.

The biggest loser so far is not one of the younger senators who couldn’t break into the final circle.


The biggest loser has been former Vice President Joe Biden. As in his first two runs for the presidency (both of which he ended early), Biden once again proved he is not an effective campaigner.

The skills that worked in a small state with limited competition such as Delaware simply were not adequate for the harsh glare of the national media, the attacks from his opponents, and the tough questioning by voters.

When he called a woman “a lying, dog-faced pony soldier” for challenging him on his performance in Iowa, it felt like he was genuinely unraveling from the pressure, exhaustion and frustration.

A weak showing in Iowa became a disaster in New Hampshire. You can’t come in fifth and claim to be the front-runner. And if Biden isn’t the front-runner, he has no explanation for his candidacy.

Everyone has talked about South Carolina as “Biden’s firewall,” but in modern presidential campaigns, firewalls disappear if the candidate can’t win. Rudy Giuliani kept looking for a firewall in 2016 until it was obvious he simply was not going to be competitive as a presidential candidate.

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The polls in South Carolina already show substantial slippage for Biden. If the intervening Nevada caucus becomes yet another defeat (and the evidence so far leans toward Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and maybe Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., having an advantage over Biden) then the South Carolina firewall will go up in smoke.

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