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Ben’s Bench: Confirming the comeback

In accomplishing a comeback typically reserved for Hollywood blockbusters and Oscar winners, former Vice President and current frontrunner Joseph R. Biden, Jr., went from becoming a guest star on the “Walking Dead” to the left’s best hope in dethroning Donald Trump and barring him from a second term. Despite my more-or-less endorsement of Biden in last week’s column, this race is far from over, with over 1,000 delegates still on the line; thus, I will remain committed to providing an objective and unwavering neutral perspective on this race until it finally ends (or until I graduate, whichever comes first). 

That being said, TNH will not be here next week due to a little thing called spring break, and that week is set to host the next major contests for the Biden-Bernie showdown. As a result, this condensed version of the column will provide my personal outlook on the biggest of these upcoming races. Keep in mind that anything from the coronavirus pandemic to televised debates to viral headlines to a change in the direction of the wind can render these predictions moot at any time, so I encourage you to take these thoughts as just that: calmly written thoughts from one man in a world of crazily bellowed outbursts. 

With that out of the way, here are my “hot” takes for the March 17 contests: 

Florida: From the state that brought you the madness that was 2000, it’s…actually a rather stable showdown this time around. Recent polling from FiveThirtyEight suggest a strong Biden showing here, with an estimated 80 percent chance of obtaining between 137 delegates and 170 delegates out of 219 at most. While Biden has been leading the state for most of the primary season, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) stole that lead from him for nearly a month in February before Biden took it back big-time following South Carolina. Being the most delegate-rich state of the March 17 Super Tuesday III contests, a strong win for the moderate will make it truly impossible for Sanders (sans a Biden-esque miracle) to catch up with him at all (not that he has much of a path anyway; FiveThirtyEight currently predicts that the senator as less than a 1 in 100 chance of winning the nomination at this point). 

Ohio: Despite Trump’s capture of the state from its purplish battleground status in 2016, Biden’s win of the state could capture the same middle-class industrial workers that defected the Democrats four years ago. FiveThirtyEight currently predicts a similar outcome as Florida, with Biden forecasted to win between 69 and 95 of its 136 delegates in 80 percent of simulations, with graphs showing a brief Sanders dominance between late January and late February before the Feb. 29 changed that trajectory for the moderate. 

Illinois: The political home base of recent democratic icon Barack Obama and the only of the four March 17 states he managed to win in 2008, a win here for Biden would be both politically and symbolically powerful, proving that he can sweep the state just as well as his first-in-command did 12 years ago. Before South Carolina, though, that victory seemed less than certain, with Sanders holding his lead there throughout the month of February. Biden’s comeback, however, makes his win there nearly guaranteed, with 80 percent of simulations predicting a win range of between 85 and 110 of 155 delegates on offer there. 

Arizona: Not much to be said here, except that, like Florida and Ohio, Obama did not win Arizona during the 2008 primary, which makes Biden’s lead here slightly ironic; otherwise, Biden is projected to win between 35 and 45 of the state’s 67 delegates 80 percent of the time. 

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, minus any true skeletons in someone’s closet or a real whiplash of a twist, Biden seems to be on the path to an inexorable nomination in Milwaukee. Truth be told, I feel rather bad for Bernie; he seems like a decent man and I applaud his ambition to introduce well-intended ideas for helping those most unfortunate through untried tactics. That being said, though, his lack of voter support at this point combined with his distant second place standing makes it unsurprising that many have requested that he back down in the name of party unity against Trump. While that would be ideal, it’s just as unlikely, as Sanders is – if nothing else – a fighter, and anything can still happen between now and June. Thus, it’s only a matter of time before we can truly see – with 20/20 vision, mind you – whether 2020 can be a new beginning for the progressive septuagenarian, or a disheartening remix of 2016. 

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