Done deal: Biden clinches nomination… sort of

Okay, it’s not officially official yet. The Democrats still need to go through the formality of holding a convention, be it in person or virtually, or at least have the DNC hold a confirmation vote if they can’t manage that. But as of yesterday, after the lion’s share of the final ballots from Tuesday’s primaries were tallied, Uncle Joe is projected to have enough pledged delegates to make it over the top on the first round without needing any superdelegate assistance. (More on that shortly.) It’s impossible to say which state actually put Joe over the top because they all technically voted on the same day. But some of the races that took the longest to count were in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. (NY Post)

Joe Biden has formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Friday.

“It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded,” Biden said in a statement Friday night.

“And I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party.”

The former vice president will go on to challenge President Donald Trump in the general election against the backdrop of immense challenges: the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide civil unrest and historic joblessness.

Before proceeding, it’s worth noting one thing about all of the mail-in ballots that were used in these primaries. The polls closed on Tuesday night. We didn’t obtain enough final counts in those nine races to project Biden’s margin until Friday night and some of them still aren’t at 99% reporting as of this morning. And we’re only talking about single states here, some of them quite small. (Looking at you, Rhode Island and Maryland.) Imagine doing this on a national level in November, particularly in the states with little to no experience in handling massive numbers of mail-in ballots. We’ll hold the election on November 3rd, but we might not know the results for weeks. That hasn’t happened since Bush v. Gore. (There’s a nightmare blast from the past for you.)

In any event, Biden should be safely on his way to the general election at this point for better or worse. Assuming he doesn’t mysteriously get replaced in the next couple of months, and whether he wins or loses in November, Joe Biden may go down in the annals of history as one of the biggest winners of the pandemic. By winning a flurry of primaries on Super Tuesday and the couple of weeks that followed and then disappearing into his basement for months, Biden was kept mostly off of America’s television screens.

In a more “normal” election cycle, that would be a disastrous development for any presidential candidate. But in Biden’s case, his campaign didn’t have to sweat out numerous speeches, many made late at night, waiting to see how many gaffes would take place or how often he would forget where he was or what he was talking about. Much of the mainstream media has dutifully ignored Biden’s many “senior moments’ on the rare occasions where he’s showed up on camera, but if he was maintaining a regular presidential campaign schedule, it would very likely soon become too much to ignore.

So is this it? Is the DNC resigned to their fate at this point or is there a chance that a movement to replace Joe before August could still be simmering under the covers? There’s certainly been more than a little discussion of the subject. Suggestions for replacements have ranged from Andrew Cuomo to Elizabeth Warren. (Of course, Bernie Sanders remains firmly off the table for the party regulars.) Joe’s last couple of speeches came off well enough, being meticulously staged with no further teleprompter failures gumming up the works.

But that’s not going to hold forever. The more the country continues to open up after the pandemic lockdowns, the greater the pressure will be for Biden to get back out on the trail. And sooner or later he’s going to have to debate Trump, probably late in the evening when Biden generally isn’t at his best, to put it kindly. A couple of serious mental misfires will create the kind of doubt in voters’ minds that MSNBC won’t be able to wipe away with clever editing. And if the economy turns in a few more months like May and starts seriously rebounding, Trump’s advantages could easily drain away Biden’s hopes in the fall.

Look, I’m not saying that the Democrats are seriously considering giving Uncle Joe the old heave-ho right now. But if they aren’t looking at a Plan B just to be on the safe side, they’re dancing with disaster.

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