This week was one of the worst on record for the Democratic Party, and it’s been entirely self-inflicted. The meltdown in Iowa, the acquittal of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways: Fear of Trump hangs over Democratic debate Klobuchar raises million since start of debate Buttigieg, Sanders aim to build momentum from New Hampshire debate MORE and the emerging schism between the far left and the Democratic establishment are all manifesting as a result of gross miscalculations by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Republicans embraced ‘darkest vision’ of executive power by acquitting Trump Hillicon Valley: Democrats press Facebook, Twitter to remove new Trump video of Pelosi | Iowa Dem chair calls for investigation into caucus problems | How Reddit is combating coronavirus misinformation On The Money: Economy adds 225K jobs in January, topping expectations | Appeals court tosses Dems’ lawsuit over emoluments | Democrats decide against bringing back earmarks MORE.
The thesis going in must have rested on a misguided belief that impeachment would damage Trump and disadvantage the three senators who were challenging Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways: Fear of Trump hangs over Democratic debate Buttigieg, Sanders aim to build momentum from New Hampshire debate Poll: New Hampshire Democrats would prefer an extinction-causing meteor over Trump reelection MORE for the nomination. Then Biden would outperform his history and expectations, and the party would unify around electability in the form of the former vice president.
But “electability” is merely PC speak for “Trump hatred.” Since Trump hatred is the only issue Democrats can agree on, it must have seemed like a reasonable theme to Pelosi.
With the unfolding events, we are seeing that this thesis rested on three gross miscalculations: 1) Biden has magically transformed into a viable candidate; 2) the Establishment can use Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways: Fear of Trump hangs over Democratic debate Klobuchar raises million since start of debate Buttigieg after debate: I would be ‘most progressive’ nominee in party’s history MORE (I-Vt.) and his legions of followers when it suits them, then push them aside when it counts; and 3) the case against Trump would attract bipartisan support. All 3 assumptions are proving to be without merit.
Pelosi and the Democratic establishment must not have been paying attention to Biden’s long record of terrible presidential campaigns. Biden didn’t even make it to Iowa during his 1988 run and didn’t make it out of Iowa when he ran again in 2008.
Entering 2020, Biden’s high name identification and a crowded field were his best assets. Now both advantages have faded away. Once a top tier of candidates formed, the name ID advantage expired.
More importantly, as the field winnowed, Biden was subject to more visibility and scrutiny.
With many candidates on the debate stage, his fragility was less evident. Now with fewer on stage, and more time for each candidate, Biden’s incapacity has been on full display.
The Iowa caucus results show that his viability as the Democratic nominee is collapsing. This will be reaffirmed in New Hampshire and Nevada. If he fails to win South Carolina, it’s over. It could even be over before then.
Meanwhile, the seeds sown after Hilary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders out of the 2016 nomination were reaped on Monday night. As part of the concessions demanded by Bernie to endorse Hillary in 2016, there would be new technology used to count the votes in Iowa, and there would be three iterative counts released, so he wouldn’t be cheated out of a win next time around. What could go wrong?
As bad as the Iowa dumpster fire was, it isn’t the main problem. The main problem is that the anti-Trump coalition of Democratic Socialists and the Democrat establishment lack sufficient overlap to unify the party.
The one remaining plausible hope could be Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFive takeaways: Fear of Trump hangs over Democratic debate Klobuchar raises million since start of debate Buttigieg, Sanders aim to build momentum from New Hampshire debate MORE (D-Minn.), because her identity as a relatively young woman might appease the identity-obsessed hard Left, and her comparatively moderate policy stances might appease the establishment.
But it won’t happen because of Mike Bloomberg. The former New York City mayor has spent more than $300 million on various forms of advertising. Spending money is not as important as developing the loyalty that comes from raising small donor money – like Bernie has done – but it still counts. If Bloomberg has a big delegate haul after Super Tuesday, then by March 4 he may be the only viable alternative to Bernie.
Which leaves us with the Trump impeachment. Instead of attracting bipartisan support, it unfolded like the Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughWarren, Biden call for law to protect abortion rights Consumer bureau chief explains support for lawsuit limiting her power Manchin will vote to convict Trump MORE hearings: With both sides dug in and rallying their base. That might have worked if the Democrats could unify around Trump hatred. But as it is playing out, it’s not going to be enough. They have a really big problem.
The Democrats have a schism over policy, and it is now on full display. Congratulations, Speaker Pelosi, you have inadvertently made Trump’s case: The Democrats waste all their time and energy hating Trump, and they can’t agree on how to accomplish anything for the American people.
Dan Palmer is a Republican donor and conservative political strategist.