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Old 03-10-2020, 08:07 PM
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The illusion of the Biden "comeback"


Why do the media call Biden's victory on Super Tuesday a "comeback"? Although votes do shift around a little during primary season, his popularity on a state-by-state basis is a pretty static quantity. It's just that the states with the early primaries were not Biden states. It's not like he was a batter in a slump that suddenly starting hitting home runs.

The reporting on this creates the illusion that he started out unpopular then magically gained in popularity over time, and that just ain't what happened.
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  #2  
Old 03-10-2020, 08:32 PM
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Why do the media call Biden's victory on Super Tuesday a "comeback"? Although votes do shift around a little during primary season, his popularity on a state-by-state basis is a pretty static quantity. It's just that the states with the early primaries were not Biden states. It's not like he was a batter in a slump that suddenly starting hitting home runs.

The reporting on this creates the illusion that he started out unpopular then magically gained in popularity over time, and that just ain't what happened.
It's being called a comeback because he tanked in Iowa (4th place), New Hampshire (5th place) and Nevada (distant 2nd). Going in to the SC primary his campaign was running out of money and considered dead in the water. His victory there was more or less expected but polls indicated he would get clobbered on Super Tuesday. His victories then were a game changer, particularly taking Texas where Sanders had been expected to win. Tonight he has taken Michigan which was polling strongly toward Sanders last week.

Combine how poorly Biden did in the early states with how poorly he did in the early debates and it isn't difficult to see why people were writing obits for his campaign. Bernie was on the cusp of being able to walk away with the nomination. If he had dominated on Super Tuesday there is a good chance the momentum would have been with him. Unfortunately his comments about Castro and the failure of the "youth" vote to turn out in large numbers appear to have killed his chances again.
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Old 03-10-2020, 08:38 PM
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McCain was almost dead in 2008 but ended up the nominee so it has happened before.
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Old 03-10-2020, 09:22 PM
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McCain was almost dead in 2008 but ended up the nominee so it has happened before.
I wont lie, I didnt realize this was metaphorical and was going to ask what happened since I dont recall any serious medical incidents during the primary. Then after a second I realized you werent being literal.
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Old 03-10-2020, 09:23 PM
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I agree Biden was never really in danger of losing the media just likes to create this narrative that it's a comeback. If anything this has shown how all the other Dems were really nothing more than a pipe dream with no chance.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:00 PM
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I agree Biden was never really in danger of losing the media just likes to create this narrative that it's a comeback. If anything this has shown how all the other Dems were really nothing more than a pipe dream with no chance.
I would disagree. If Biden had lost SC he would have been done right then. If it had been close and he had done poorly on Super Tuesday, the same.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:03 PM
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I agree Biden was never really in danger of losing the media just likes to create this narrative that it's a comeback. If anything this has shown how all the other Dems were really nothing more than a pipe dream with no chance.
Do you think they didn't know that?
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:18 PM
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Now is the time for Bernie Bros et al to work energetically for progressive candidates in local races, down to the city council and utility and school board level, not hoping for Change! imposed from the top down. They won't see a greener, healthier, more equal America by re-enabling the orange terror.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:23 PM
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Do you think they didn't know that?
Despite the winky, I'm going to say that deep in the heart of every politician, there's a President just waiting to get out. Deep down, every politician believes that they have just exactly the issue, the piece of rhetoric, the native charm, whatever it takes, to be President. And with hard work and maybe a couple of breaks in their favor, they can get the big brass ring.

And honestly, they may be right. Look at Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump (Nixon had no business getting into politics in the first place; the other four were long shots when they started.)
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:57 PM
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It was absolutely a massive comeback. Biden was in deep trouble in late February and it was not just the media saying this;it was also the 538 model and betting markets. His national polling had dropped from around 30% to 17% and and Bernie had risen to 30% with Bloomberg also rising rapidly in the polls. Biden had little money and organization especially compared to Bernie. At one point his numbers were also dropping in South Carolina which was his last hope.
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:58 PM
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Why do the media call Biden's victory on Super Tuesday a "comeback"?
Nationally, polling swung for Sanders in late January and February with Sanders leading by as much as 16 points. After S. Carolina and Super Tuesday, it swiftly moved in Biden's direction to his current national lead of ~20 points (probably more after tonight).
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:20 AM
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I agree Biden was never really in danger of losing the media just likes to create this narrative that it's a comeback. If anything this has shown how all the other Dems were really nothing more than a pipe dream with no chance.
No, he was in real danger. Had he performed poorly in South Carolina and Bernie gotten the majority of Super Tuesday delegates, he'd have had the last nail hammered into his coffin. Bernie would have had unstoppable momentum from that point on.
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:25 AM
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It seems to me the prevailing wisdom was that he was always going to win South Carolina and most of the primaries to follow, he had the support of black voters that none of the other Dems ever had as well as working class blue collars.

Sure I saw opinion pieces on CNN and such that maybe he wasn't a sure thing in South Carolina but I don't think many people seriously believed that and I don't think he's making a comeback because I don't believe he was ever in danger of losing. It's the other candidates being taken seriously at all that was the illusion.
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Last edited by pool; 03-11-2020 at 12:25 AM.
  #14  
Old 03-11-2020, 12:33 AM
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A narrow win in South Carolina wouldn't have meant a lot given that he was polling behind in several of the Super Tuesday states, had little money and organization and faced several moderate rivals. What he needed was a massive win in South Carolina and then have his key rivals to drop out quickly and endorse him. That looked extremely unlikely in late Feb.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:24 AM
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A narrow win in South Carolina wouldn't have meant a lot given that he was polling behind in several of the Super Tuesday states, had little money and organization and faced several moderate rivals. What he needed was a massive win in South Carolina and then have his key rivals to drop out quickly and endorse him. That looked extremely unlikely in late Feb.
This, exactly. Its hard to exaggerate how little money he had left, and he ended up winning states where he spent no money and had no campaign offices. This was unprecedented.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:46 AM
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The point is none of this was actually unexpected. If you asked around in early January, you'd expect Biden to lose Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, possibly by large margins. But to do well in South Carolina. Basically 2016 redux.

But we have to tell ourselves that results in individual states separated by 1000 miles affect each other through some kind of "momentum" that seems to be an overblown way of saying we like to fit observed facts into our preferred narrative framework rather than creating that framework from the facts.

This isn't unlike the Republican primaries in 2016. All the political pundits were about "momentum" or whatever and dismissing Trump early on. The point of a few people, even 6 months before the first primary, was, "Who else is polling in the double digits at all?" Listening to the state by state narrative, it would come as a shock. Looking at the actual numbers, even a year ahead of the convention, you saw where things were likely to go.

And this appears to be the case here. Biden has held a healthy lead the entire way. But this is a rather boring narrative, and we must have our drama 1 state at a time. If you asked me early in January, I would have told you the only real risk to Biden leading the pack by mid March would be a health issue. That changed in February, but I'll admit I bought into the narrative rather than continue to trust the numbers, which were telling us Biden had a solid lead in most of the Super Tuesday states, despite early, small state results.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:20 AM
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The point is none of this was actually unexpected. If you asked around in early January, you'd expect Biden to lose Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, possibly by large margins. But to do well in South Carolina. Basically 2016 redux.

But we have to tell ourselves that results in individual states separated by 1000 miles affect each other through some kind of "momentum" that seems to be an overblown way of saying we like to fit observed facts into our preferred narrative framework rather than creating that framework from the facts.

This isn't unlike the Republican primaries in 2016. All the political pundits were about "momentum" or whatever and dismissing Trump early on. The point of a few people, even 6 months before the first primary, was, "Who else is polling in the double digits at all?" Listening to the state by state narrative, it would come as a shock. Looking at the actual numbers, even a year ahead of the convention, you saw where things were likely to go.

And this appears to be the case here. Biden has held a healthy lead the entire way. But this is a rather boring narrative, and we must have our drama 1 state at a time. If you asked me early in January, I would have told you the only real risk to Biden leading the pack by mid March would be a health issue. That changed in February, but I'll admit I bought into the narrative rather than continue to trust the numbers, which were telling us Biden had a solid lead in most of the Super Tuesday states, despite early, small state results.
Look, I don’t have much investment in the “came from behind“ narrative, but I don’t know why you want to ignore the fact that Sanders overtook Biden in national polling and put together a brief but substantial leave until South Carolina and Super Tuesday. you can say Biden had a healthy lead the entire way, but it’s just not true.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com...ry-d/national/

Last edited by Maserschmidt; 03-11-2020 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:43 AM
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Yeah, 538 was leaning heavily towards a Bernie win for quite a while. That was based on polling numbers, not that they "bought the narrative".
  #19  
Old 03-11-2020, 09:59 AM
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The pundits were wrong. Somehow, they forgot how primaries work. They were ready to hand the nomination to Bernie after two caucuses and a primary, which included two of the whitest states in the nation. Bernie never had a chance, he was never the front runner. He may have led the polls, but he never topped 30%. That means 70% didn't want Bernie.

538's model was wrong. It didn't account for candidates dropping out and their support going to other candidates, or it didn't account for the fact that all that support would go to non-Bernie candidates. The first four contests were the Moderates/Establishment searching for their candidate. It ended up being Biden.

Here are some quotes from a pretty smart guy:

Feb. 22
"I think Bernie will continue to under-perform. Fanatics can only vote once. As seen in Iowa, he's not many voter's second choice. When candidates start dropping, their voters are moving mostly to non-Bernie candidates."

Feb. 23 right after Sanders "DESTROYS" the opposition in Nevada
"...it seems that Bernie has once again grossly under-performed. I don't think he's the runaway front-runner that everyone thinks he is."
  #20  
Old 03-11-2020, 12:09 PM
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Biden substantially underperformed his Iowa polling numbers. He underperformed his already low New Hampshire numbers. His national numbers fell by 10 points and by late Feb he was more than 10 points behind Bernie. His South Carolina numbers were falling sharply through Feb and by the last week were just a few points ahead of Bernie. And then there was Bloomberg who was rising at Biden's expense and was pumping in massive amounts of money. Given these facts it was entirely rational to believe that Biden was in deep trouble.

Last edited by Lantern; 03-11-2020 at 12:10 PM.
  #21  
Old 03-11-2020, 06:56 PM
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538's model was wrong. It didn't account for candidates dropping out and their support going to other candidates, or it didn't account for the fact that all that support would go to non-Bernie candidates. The first four contests were the Moderates/Establishment searching for their candidate. It ended up being Biden.
Of course the model accounts for that. And in the past, the first few contests are extremely predictive of the final outcome. You're totally and obviously wrong.
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Old 03-12-2020, 12:17 PM
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Iowa and New Hampshire are so different than the other contests. Most states only see a week or so of campaigning and have to make decisions without ever seeing the candidates.

Iowa has months and months of intense campaigning. For the most part they feel if they just pick the front runner why did they go through that? They like to be contrarian and humble the front runner.
Then when New Hampshire votes they don't want to merely ratify what Iowa does so they vote for someone else.

Then the real race starts and the front runner shows why they were the front runner and win easily. Name recognition is usually the decisive factor.
  #23  
Old 03-12-2020, 12:35 PM
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It's easier to regain the support you lost than gain support that you never had. People disposed to vote for Biden were disillusioned by his early performance and found other candidates, then flocked back to Joe when they saw him gain his footing. It was indeed a historic comeback but only because disproportionate weight was given to the first two contests with lily white populations and the third was a caucus where a minority of passionate supporters wins the day.
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