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Joe Biden has bolted to a large lead in polls of the Democratic presidential race.

A supposedly wide-open race thus resembles a certain conventionality, with the most recent Democratic vice president surging as the obvious heir apparent, which would be run of the mill.

Biden surges largely because of African American support vital to almost any Democratic nomination, along with the establishment theory that he is the best bet to defeat Donald Trump and the fact that no one else other than Bernie Sanders, who may have a low niche ceiling, is much stepping up.

And, as The New York Times reported over the weekend, Biden has so far relieved his aides by not committing a gaffe through his never-met-a-stranger gabbiness.

Biden gaffe? Go to and search those two words. You'll get more than 400 results. That's not to say Biden has committed more than 400 gaffes, though he might've. It's to say Politico, a relatively young news organization covering only a recent portion of Biden's long career, has used that phrase close to his name more than 400 times.

The closest to a gaffe that Biden seems to have come in his latest and young formal candidacy was when he said China was led by fine people and was no economic competition to the United States.

He took it back two days later, saying he hadn't meant China was no economic competition to us when he said China was no economic competition to us.

We will hear more about that--clearly--in a general election if Biden gets to it. His son, Hunter, already is the subject of negative right-wing media coverage of business dealings in China and Ukraine--about which, indeed, more needs to become known.

My nomination for the most serious recent Biden gaffe came last year, well before he was an announced candidate, when he dismissed millennials' concerns, saying, "The younger generation now tells me how tough things are--give me a break. No, no. I have no empathy for it. Give me a break. Because here's the deal, guys. We decided we were gonna change the world, and we did. We did. We finished the civil rights movement in the first stage. The women's movement came to be."

Today's millennials--or many of them, anyway--surely are unimpressed with Biden's generational chauvinism that dismisses the student debt they're carrying that rivals many of his generation's home mortgages. They might wonder why his generation so abused the planet that their very existence is threatened. They might wonder why his generation started pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that they fought.

Perhaps that is why, in all Democratic polls to date, Biden leads all groups except whites 34 years of age and younger. What may save him is that Sanders gets a plurality of those but is sharing them with Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, mainly.

Biden leads a national average of polling with 41 points, lapping Sanders at 14, Warren at 8, Kamala Harris at 7 and Buttigieg at 6. His leads are more precarious in Iowa and New Hampshire--23-17 over Sanders in Iowa and 28-15, again over Sanders, in New Hampshire. But those are states famously devoid of black voters, who otherwise dominate Democratic presidential primaries.

Look, then, to South Carolina, the third big primary, where two-thirds of the Democratic voters are African American, and which is probably Biden's firewall. He leads a new poll 46-15 over Sanders, with Harris, Warren and Buttigieg limping at 10 and under.

Walter Mondale beat Gary Hart for the Democratic nomination because of the black vote, which offset high-end white liberal support for Hart. Bill Clinton beat Paul Tsongas because of black support. Al Gore over Bill Bradley--ditto. Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton--ditto.

The only exception was Michael Dukakis, whose white liberal support outpolled Jesse Jackson's black vote in 1988. That merely demonstrated that the black vote alone can't dictate a nomination. It can only decide one if supplemental to some measure of white support.

So we have a front-runner, as clearly as Mondale was, and Dukakis, and Bill Clinton, and Gore, and Obama, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Sanders.

We should keep ears open whenever Biden is speaking and eyes open should Warren, Harris or Buttigieg begin to break from the pack and take support from Sanders.

Otherwise, and as yet, 2020 doesn't look much different than any other Democratic nomination cycle.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Web only on 05/15/2019

Print Headline: Uncle Joe by a mile


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  • GeneralMac
    May 15, 2019 at 9:12 a.m.

    .."when the party annointed Clinton with the nomination"....

    I think it was more of a "it's your turn now"

    Hillary was the favorite before the 2008 elections began ( Rudy vs Hillary was the odds on favorite for November)

    However, Barack HUSSEIN Obama beat Hillary but Hillary did remain loyal and served in Barack HUSSEIN Obama's administration.

    I don't think the "new" Democrats care one bit about " loyalty" or "it's his/her turn"

    The Democrat primary will be like the Republican primary of 2016.

    Dog eat dog.

    The toughest Democrat will be the last one left in the ring after a bloody "
    battle royal "

    Just like the Republican primary, the nominee is the one who was able , ONE by ONE, to eliminate his opponents by tossing them over the top rope and out of the ring.

  • RobertBolt
    May 15, 2019 at 9:37 a.m.

    The main thing a lot of people don't know about this race is they have no idea what they are talking about this early in the process. For obvious reasons, Secretary Clinton's coronation as the safe, entitled candidate was deemed more likely than not by many in 2015, but who here predicted Trump's nomination, let alone victory, over a field of more electable competitors at this point four years ago in 2015? Predictions this early presented as anything other than pretentious nonsense and fantasy are just stupid.

  • mozarky2
    May 15, 2019 at 10:21 a.m.

    Yeah, RobertBolt, somebody'd have to be smokin' something to make predictions at this stage of the race, huh?

  • wowy
    May 15, 2019 at 11:35 a.m.

    Ole juanbummsquit makes a couple fair points
    (if you can believe that) well, one anyways —-the title. I didn’t read beyond that. I do really love love those “articles from the past”, they are great.
    Oh, the gay-loving and Christian hating communists sure do love women-groping life-long politicians who have done NOTHING except be on the “Wrong Side” of every issue for 45 years.
    He has THAT going for him, kinda like you bummsquirter, ahaha!!

  • RP57
    May 15, 2019 at 11:49 a.m.

    At least PopMom admits that regardless of who the candidate is, the ultimate goal is to defeat Trump. If you are against the President who has brought us the greatest economy in decades I guess that means you want us to fail. Don’t understand the reasoning but the great thing about America is everyone can have their opinion.

  • mozarky2
    May 15, 2019 at 12:39 p.m.

    Well, the number of democrats in Benton County just doubled, I see. I just took the recently expanded southbound exit ramp at I49 and 14th Street in Bentonville, and I noticed TWO panhandlers there!

  • hah406
    May 15, 2019 at 12:59 p.m.

    Moz, be careful or I will move back up there and quadruple the number in Benton county! LOL! Actually, I hope to move back in the next few years as Arkansas Children's Northwest expands. Anyway, back to what I was going to say. Isn't it way too soon for polls to mean anything? I thought Trump's candidacy and eventual win proved that last time around.

  • PopMom
    May 15, 2019 at 1:12 p.m.


    Germany's economy was fine at the outset of WWII, but then look what happened. This tyrant who wants to undermine the press and the judiciary (when it disagrees with him) is dangerous. He supports white supremacy and is tearing this country apart. If he steals the election in 2020, there will be massive unrest. If the Democrats beat him, he will claim the election was stolen and urge his supporters to commit violence. He is a dangerous man, and civil unrest is not conducive to a great economy. Forbes magazine has credited the recovery which started under Obama and the technological revolution for the economy more than this wannabe dictator. In fact, the boom is mostly occurring in California, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut and other blue states. Thank the business people for the economy and the Federal Reserve--not this guy.

  • LRCrookAtty
    May 15, 2019 at 1:43 p.m.

    Rbear..."...opposed to the indoctrination of Arabic numbers in our schools as opposed to Roman numerals?"
    Your way of trying to make a funny. HaHa! I prefer Roman numerals, but Arabic are easier for calculations. It was when calculations started including Green letters when I really had to think.

  • Rightside
    May 15, 2019 at 1:55 p.m.

    Kind of feel sorry for PopMom. It seems Rachel Maddow is affecting her bizzare thinking.

    Other News.
    Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine. Kathleen Biden divorced Hunter Biden then he married his sister-in-law.