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Why Biden was smart to drop out – in one single, solitary, devastating, awesomely simple graph

- October 21, 2015

So Joe Biden is not running for president, despite many weeks of frantic and often erroneous speculation. My Post colleagues Paul Kane and Karen Tumulty have the rundown.

I think this is a smart decision, and here’s why. Below is a graph of the number of endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates by Democratic governors, senators, or members of the House:

Graph by John Sides

Graph by John Sides

Clinton’s dominance on this measure is one key reason why she’s in such a strong position for the nomination: she had already locked up substantial support among Democratic Party leaders. Barring some catastrophic event – perhaps involving Clinton’s e-mail server, perhaps something else – it was going to be very tough for Biden to offer a serious challenge.

This is all the more likely because an actual Biden campaign would have exposed him to the scrutiny and criticism he had thus far avoided. I pointed this out a few weeks ago in response to Chuck Todd’s tweet about Biden’s current strength in horse-race polling:

biden_tweet

This is a tough year for any Democrat to challenge Clinton – least of all one that cannot offer a reasonably clear ideological contrast, as Sanders can. Although the Republican race remains uncertain and fluid, the Democratic race is so far a case study in The Party Decides. And, as Pat Egan noted a few weeks ago, Biden’s departure likely only makes Clinton stronger.

For more on this, see Nate Cohn, Seth Masket, Matthew Dickinson, and Chris Cillizza.