The scene at New Hampshire’s Democratic convention on Saturday highlighted one of the riddles of Biden’s candidacy: He maintains a lead in nearly every poll, but his campaign events often lack the look and feel of a front-runner. His crowds are warm, but rarely high-energy. His organization is solid, but doesn’t always show up in force at key events that help shape the perceptions of political power brokers.

Biden’s team insists such optics are overrated as indicators of a candidate’s strength. The former vice president, they argue, is unique in the Democratic field because of a reservoir of goodwill from a broad group of supporters who know him so well they don’t necessarily need to see him campaign or otherwise demonstrate their support in public.

“I think people can be fooled by the crowd size,” said Terry Shumaker, a staunch Biden supporter in New Hampshire. Shrugging off “lots of noise for some candidates,” Shumaker compared Biden’s support to an iceberg, where only one-seventh is visible.