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Joe Biden gets his 'comeback kid' moment

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Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses supporters after his win in the South Carolina Democratic primary.

Posted: Mar 1, 2020 9:10 AM
Updated: Mar 1, 2020 9:10 AM

What a difference 24 hours can make.

A couple of days ago, former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign was on life support. Saturday night, with just a fraction of the South Carolina primary vote counted, it seems that Biden has won a commanding victory in a state whose demographic makeup truly reflects the diversity of the Democratic Party base.

South Carolina was always at the heart of Biden's electoral strategy — his first opportunity to establish himself as the clear choice of the party, positioned right before the critical delegate binge of Super Tuesday.

But that was before Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders built a growing head of steam with a near-win in Iowa and dominant victories in New Hampshire and Nevada. Meanwhile, mediocre debate performances, a series of embarrassing gaffes, fourth and fifth-place finishes in the first rounds of voting, and the disruptive entry into the race of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg set Biden back on his heels.

If Biden's South Carolina "firewall" had shattered, his presidential bid would've moved rapidly from intensive care to the coroner's office. It held. And his campaign's messaging calling him the new "comeback kid" has already begun.

What remains to be seen is what South Carolina means for the rest of the field.

Sanders, who'd recently been trying on a mantle of inevitability for size, clearly now faces a different kind of fight. Moderate voters may well snap back into the Biden camp, and other centrist candidates may feel the pressure to make an increasingly hard decision: Whether to stay in the race and continue to fragment the vote against Sanders — or bow out and lend support to Biden.

It seems almost certain that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — her brief surge likely over — will consider folding her campaign after Super Tuesday. Billionaire Tom Steyer has now dropped out, and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg may well debate ending his run.

The wild cards remain Bloomberg — a centrist for whom money is no barrier — and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the only progressive alternative to Sanders. Her campaign has been hurt by media dismissal, unlucky timing (what would this race look like if so many Nevadans hadn't already voted by the time of her stunning debate victory in the state?) and, in all candor, misogyny.

Given a decent showing on Super Tuesday (perhaps strong seconds in California and Colorado or a win in her home state of Massachusetts), Warren likely has the resources to keep her fight going. Her passionate supporters, myself included, want her to stay in — given her critically important anti-corruption message, Sanders' recent heart attack (from which he says he's fully recovered) and Warren's status as the most frequent second choice of Democratic voters for candidates across the ideological spectrum.

But it's likely that if Sanders comes in well behind Biden in South Carolina and finds his momentum blunted, Warren could find herself playing a critical role in shaping the outcome of a race that could well end with a contested battle on the Democratic convention floor.

Keeping her in the race is likely in Biden's interests, as a critical progressive counterweight to Sanders.

Yet Sanders might strategically prefer her to stay in — she's the most devastatingly effective foil for Bloomberg. She's also a potentially important aggregator of delegates that Sanders might otherwise lose to Buttigieg and others, assuming that he believes he can dependably reconcile with his longtime ally-turned-rival as the race comes toward its conclusion.

And while the path to victory is admittedly narrow for Warren herself, the cycle has been surprising enough that one can't seem to count anyone out. Coronavirus outbreaks, unexpected news events and rebalancing of support from candidates dropping out of the race all still hold the possibility of changing the game dramatically before the convention comes.

Either way, the action seems like it's only just beginning — and the endgame is anyone's guess.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 578494

Reported Deaths: 9202
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion798821282
Lake43601664
Allen31380537
Hamilton27675303
St. Joseph26409369
Elkhart23873336
Vanderburgh18192211
Tippecanoe16999116
Porter14183158
Johnson14120277
Hendricks13560236
Madison10312209
Vigo10297171
Clark9952128
Monroe8933105
Delaware8638129
LaPorte8589153
Kosciusko777375
Howard7712136
Warrick624990
Hancock621995
Bartholomew616094
Floyd5971105
Wayne5811155
Grant5716108
Dubois533570
Boone523167
Morgan501485
Marshall487084
Henry483262
Cass464959
Noble453956
Dearborn443343
Jackson410145
Shelby394376
Lawrence374172
Clinton359838
Gibson348556
DeKalb333063
Montgomery329150
Knox323339
Harrison317242
Miami305043
Steuben300740
Adams291635
Ripley287145
Wabash286345
Whitley286324
Huntington278757
Putnam278046
Jasper274933
White262038
Daviess255671
Jefferson242738
Fayette239248
Decatur237382
Greene229259
Posey225626
Wells225146
LaGrange222061
Scott212837
Clay212432
Randolph204940
Jennings188635
Sullivan185831
Spencer176917
Fountain175125
Washington170216
Starke169241
Jay160521
Fulton156829
Owen155536
Carroll150115
Orange146333
Rush145618
Vermillion141633
Perry141327
Franklin139333
Parke12718
Tipton126232
Pike111325
Blackford105122
Pulaski93636
Newton87820
Brown84428
Benton83010
Crawford7229
Martin68013
Warren6427
Switzerland6035
Union6033
Ohio4547
Unassigned0372

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 807293

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin95508704
Cuyahoga80262964
Hamilton59783436
Montgomery40858396
Summit32488697
Lucas29495575
Butler29100225
Stark24048388
Warren18471135
Lorain17563207
Mahoning16430334
Lake14941134
Clermont14703103
Delaware1349574
Licking12353132
Trumbull12096297
Fairfield1184280
Greene11338132
Medina10815164
Clark10334261
Wood9742153
Allen9355126
Miami867373
Portage8628104
Richland8604111
Marion7231112
Tuscarawas6987172
Columbiana6922124
Pickaway689050
Wayne6599162
Muskingum648939
Erie5729117
Hancock529088
Ross518287
Scioto508753
Geauga469955
Darke450589
Ashtabula431467
Union422327
Mercer419485
Lawrence417051
Sandusky413262
Auglaize407059
Shelby404621
Seneca404354
Huron399738
Jefferson391565
Belmont378140
Putnam359370
Washington357039
Athens35469
Madison331128
Knox329022
Ashland322538
Fulton319043
Defiance311476
Crawford306769
Preble306434
Brown289617
Logan284828
Ottawa275534
Clinton272741
Williams265757
Highland255618
Jackson250743
Guernsey234625
Champaign233727
Fayette218929
Morrow21754
Holmes215562
Perry215317
Henry206147
Hardin200932
Coshocton194517
Van Wert193744
Wyandot186948
Gallia186226
Adams160815
Pike160116
Hocking157423
Carroll143216
Paulding137521
Noble116138
Meigs99021
Monroe93827
Harrison8428
Morgan75826
Vinton64013
Unassigned00
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