A Year in Which Nothing Happened

We're right back where we started.

A comment from longtime commenter @MarkedMan on another thread sparked an observation that’s perhaps worth expanding on a bit.

We’re a day away from the Iowa Caucuses, the maddeningly stupid way in which we kick off the selection of the Presidential nominees every four years. But the campaign has been ongoing for fourteen months, with umpteen debates and tens of thousands of articles analyzing every twist and turn of the race—along with idle speculation about really unlikely eventualities like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, or some other savior coming in to rescue the party from the dreary lot of candidates actually running.

But for all of the drama, we head into Iowa exactly where we started this whole thing: with Joe Biden as the clear frontrunner and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, in some order, as the only plausible challengers.

Here’s a screenshot of the RealClearPolitics average going back as far as it goes for this cycle:

With the exception of a one-week period last July when Kamala Harris jumped into a three-way tie with Warren and Sanders for the runner-up spot, Biden has been in the lead and either Warren or Sanders has been in second, with the other third.

For all the ink spilled about how interesting Pete Buttigieg (and, to a much lesser extent, Andrew Yang) might be, they have never been all that significant in terms of their national support.

Mike Bloomberg has the potential to impact the race considerably given his vast financial resources. But he’s not going to be the nominee.

Like it or not, it’s going to be Biden, Warren, or Sanders. Probably Biden.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kurtz says:

    I don’t hate Biden. But he is not, nor was he ever, Presidential material. As a Vice President to a young guy like Obama, he was fine. Top guy? Nah.

  2. CSK says:

    This shows you the power of name recognition. No one is terribly enthusiastic about Biden, but most people know who he is.

  3. JAMES JOYNER says:

    @Kurtz: Lots of guys who aren’t ‘presidential material’ Get nominated. Quite a few win. Some even get re-elected.

    For whatever reason, some pretty good governors didn’t gain any traction. Nor did Cory Booker. I don’t know if Buttogieg’s time will come but this isn’t it.

    Warren is the most polished of the plausible nominees but she doesn’t have any real executive experience. Biden has by far the best resume but seems to be lacking something—and is certainly past his prime.

  4. Not the IT Dept. says:

    And in other “nothing changed” news, Senator Joni Ernst says if Biden wins the presidency, the GOP will impeach him over the business in Ukraine. (Bloomsberg News scroll in passing)

    Of course, it assumes that the GOP will win the Senate again.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    It also assumes they win the House, which is a very big assumption.

  6. mattbernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    It also assumes they win the House, which is a very big assumption.

    Agreed — its a far bigger assumption than the GOP holding the Senate (which is all but built in for a while longer).

    When we start to see GOP Senators retiring en mass, then we know something is truly afoot.

  7. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Joni, Joni, Joni

    Shhh, don’t tell Joni, but someone slipped Joni a copy of the Republican version of the Constitution.
    Actual Constitution :”The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

  8. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I caught a snippet of an NPR story this morning. Whoever was being interviewed commented that one of Biden’s main problems is going to be that polls of voters under 30 consistently show him in last among the main group of Dems.

    So that Obama effect seems to have fully worn off.

  9. EddieInCA says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    In a binary election, R vs. D, I’d take the over 50 vote over the under 30 vote. Every time. Until the under 30 show up to vote in the same percentages as those over 30.

    Additionally, given how much the under 30 demo despises Trump (visible in almost every single study and poll), Trump has an uphill battle with that demo.

  10. al Ameda says:

    I’ve said it before, I believe that Joe has been ‘Hillarized’ this Ukraine stuff has damaged him, plus Biden seems to have copped an expectation of victory. That ought scare the crap out of any Democrat after the 2016 expected Hillary win Dunkirk experience.

    None of the 3 senior amigos interest me. Oh, I’ll vote for any Democrat but … Right now I’m not seeing victory In November.

    #Yang #Klobuchar

  11. Jax says:

    I will confess to being surprised that….Deval Patrick was still running? My news aggregator linked an Iowa ‘splainer on where the candidates stand. Talk about getting no press after that first bad one!!