As I wrote in my previous piece, the Senate will likely begin its impeachment trial in January, right before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Why is that important? Because during a Senate trial, all 100 senators are required to attend the hearings, and that means Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar will be off the campaign trail at the precise moment all five would be making their closing arguments to voters in both states. I’m not including Michael Bennet in this group, since about the only people who still think he’s running for president are him and his family.
So how does all this affect the race? Nationally, probably not much at all, but in a state like Iowa, where candidates need to be on the ground, the absence of Warren and Sanders in particular will no doubt help Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the latter currently leading in the latest polling. For those who are worried about the prospects of Warren being the nominee, this is huge.
Imagine Buttigieg winning Iowa and New Hampshire, where he’s also leading in the latest polling, and Biden winning Nevada and South Carolina, where he’s currently ahead. That would mean that the two most progressive candidates in the field would be 0 for 4 going into Super Tuesday. How ’bout them apples? More importantly, Biden and Buttigieg would be tied for first. Hold that thought for a while.
It’s essential for the former VP to do well in the early states because of the late entries of Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick. Bloomberg will stop at nothing in an attempt to buy the nomination – he just reserved about $30 million in ad space for the Super Tuesday contests, and he’s got much more where that came from. As for Patrick, he draws most of his support from the same lane Biden navigates in, but he’ll be hard-pressed to put together a formidable staff this late in the campaign, and suffice to say he has even less cash on hand than Biden. Between the two, though, Bloomberg is the bigger threat.
At present, Biden holds leads in Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia; Warren currently leads in her home state of Massachusetts and in Maine; and let’s just give Vermont to Bernie. California and Colorado are too close to call, as are most of the other states. It’s possible we could be looking at a three-way race between Biden, Warren and Buttigieg by the end of March with Bernie a distant fourth. And I’m putting this out here right now, it would not surprise me one bit to see a ticket of Biden / Buttigieg emerge as the winner at the convention in July. I think it would be a winning combination. What is amazing is that even with a shoe-string budget and what can at best be described as several lackluster debate performances, Biden is still leading by a wide margin in the national polls.
Of course none of this is etched in stone. We still have ten weeks to go before Iowa, and as we learned all too well in 2016, ten weeks is a lifetime in politics. Senate Republicans – in particular Lindsey Graham – are threatening to turn the trial into a referendum on the Bidens and Burisma. It’s sad to see just how far the GOP has fallen since the days of Reagan. Not that they were all that great back then, but at least they weren’t chasing bogus conspiracy theories. Bogus economic theories, maybe, but not bogus conspiracy theories. Can you imagine the Gipper allowing himself to get played by Mikhail Gorbachev like that? Nyet.
But notwithstanding the circus atmosphere that could overtake the Senate, I’m more hopeful now than I was a month ago about where this is headed. They say timing is everything. Who knew that impeaching Trump would have the added bonus of helping uncle Joe in his attempt to capture the Democratic nomination.