Early To Make Predictions; Late to Make a Start

I don’t always agree with WaPo’s Chris Cillizza, but he’s right about this:

[M]odern presidential politics isn’t as simple as announcing that you’ve decided to run and watching yourself soar to the top of the polls. (Unless, of course, you are Donald Trump, who appears entirely immune to every political law of gravity.)

Let’s take Biden, for example. If he decides at the end of this month that he wants to run, he immediately begins in a $45 million (and probably much larger) hole against Clinton.

Super PACs could make up some of that ground, but remember that virtually every major fundraiser in the party — including many who were once Biden people — is now on Clinton’s team. So whatever Biden raises, Clinton almost certainly raises double. Maybe triple.

Organizationally, Biden would start even further behind. Via Ready for Hillary, a super PAC dedicated to preparing the way for her presidential bid, Clinton’s forces have been organizing in early states for well more than a year. And it’s not just the head start; it’s that Clinton had the pick of the staff in every single state. Outside of a few Biden loyalists who have been waiting for him to make up his mind, the talent pool has been drained.

The simple fact is that getting into a presidential race this late — and, yes, August before the election year is very late — has a disastrous recent history. Then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) entered the 2012 race in August 2011 and within three months had become irrelevant. Former senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee got into the 2008 Republican race late — and never went anywhere. Ditto Wes Clark in the 2004 Democratic nomination contest.

I’d add that the ideological space occupied by Biden is pretty much the same as HRC’s, and perhaps a bit to her right, which is not where it’s happening this cycle.

Now should HRC really crash and burn in the very near future–let’s say the email thing improbably involves some really serious security breach–that’s a different proposition. The very elites making HRC so powerful now could abandon her, and then yes, of course, there’s “time” to find a new candidate. I suspect it would more likely be Elizabeth Warren than Joe Biden, though.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.