That’s Joe Biden. The three-plus decade senator. The eight-year vice president. The front-runner in the 2020 race since the moment he got into it. (Until now, that is. More on that below.)
Biden’s fundraising problems aren’t actually all that surprising. He’s never been much of a fundraiser — or enjoyed doing it. And he never built the small-dollar national network that more liberal candidates likes Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have accrued.
None of those rationalizations change the fact that Biden has considerably less money to spend in the final 100 days before people start voting that any of his top rivals — including Sanders, Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
How can Biden change that reality? He probably can’t. If he wasn’t able to raise money well (and easily) as the clear front-runner, he’s going to have a much harder time convincing people to give him money given the changing dynamics in the contest.
4. Bernie’s back?: That’s the message coming out of Sanders’ campaign as he seeks to change the subject from his recent heart attack and the is-he-too-old-for-this? conversation that event has spurred.
What happens next? Well, Sanders has the AOC endorsement as well as $30+ million in the bank — two very good things with about 100 days left until Iowa. The question now becomes: Does he have another issue on the campaign trail related to his health or age? If not, Sanders’ heart attack might seem like a million years ago by the time Iowa Democrats turn out to vote in the caucuses. But if Sanders has any sort of problem between now and then, it’s likely the end of his campaign.
Does this become a story that all of the major contenders on the Democratic side have to respond to? And do any of them take it as an opportunity to distance themselves from the Clinton era that many Democrats would like to put behind them?
2. Trump slump … dump?: I’m hesitant to predict any sort of major walk-away from President Donald Trump by congressional Republicans over the Ukraine scandal because, well, they haven’t walked away from him over all of the other terrible stories surrounding him over his first three-ish years in office.
Is there any scenario in which Republicans say enough is enough and begin to break from Trump publicly in big numbers? If it’s possible, we might be on the verge of it.
So now what? Well, last week’s debate is an indicator of what this next phase of the Democratic race will look like — as the Massachusetts senator was attacked for a variety of her positions by no fewer than seven of her rivals. (Warren did the best she could amid the onslaught, but no one could be expected to prosper under those circumstances.)
Warren’s most obvious weakness — from a policy perspective — is on her ongoing unwillingness to state, clearly, whether or not middle-class families will see their taxes go up under her “Medicare for All” plan. The answer to that is almost certainly yes — as Sanders, another “Medicare for All” proponent, acknowledged in the debate.