And yet, just as Biden’s stock was over-inflated before Iowa, it could be undervalued after a New Hampshire drubbing. The same dynamic that led to his underwhelming showing is starting to define the race: Democrats don’t have an obvious candidate who they can rally around. Indecision is the most common theme I encountered among voters at more than a dozen events in New Hampshire since Friday. (Perhaps this should have been more obvious when even The New York Times editorial board couldn’t pick a single candidate.) There’s no reason to think the choice will get easier after Tuesday.
What’s driving the indecision is not a plethora of great choices, but the fact that there are seven candidates in the mix, each of whom has at least one very serious flaw.
There is no candidate who can deliver the kind of knockout punch that defined some previous Democratic primary races, such as Al Gore’s 2000 win and John Kerry’s 2004 win, when they each won Iowa and New Hampshire and never looked back. There’s some chance the race could gradually narrow to a two-person fight, as happened in 2008 (Obama vs. Clinton) and 2016 (Sanders vs. Clinton), but New Hampshire is unlikely to clarify who those two candidates are.