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For Biden, the Center Doesn’t Hold

Amy Klobuchar's gains are the former vice president's loss. What happens when Bloomberg is on the ballot?

An interesting number out of New Hampshire: Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden have been combining for about 53 percent of the vote for most of the night. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren add up to 36 percent. The centrists are outpolling the progressives, but they are now also more split than the progressives. Biden, the former vice president, is bringing up the rear.

Biden maintained a steady frontrunner status when he had the centrist vote pretty much all to himself. But as he showed weakness, culminating in a similarly dismal showing in Iowa last week, electability-minded Democrats began to shop around. That has benefited not only Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, but also Klobuchar who actually improved on her Iowa showing and improbably broke into the top three. The proliferation of alternatives to Bernie, even before we get to contests where Michael Bloomberg is on the ballot, is bad news for Biden.

A fourth place showing in Iowa has now given way to a fifth-place, single-digit showing in New Hampshire. The question is not only whether Biden’s national lead can hold up under these circumstances—he has already fallen behind Sanders in the RealClearPolitics polling average—but whether he can still make it to, much less win, South Carolina.

Centrist Democrats are abandoning Biden at an alarming rate. If African-American voters are next, he is doomed.



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