The former vice president came into Iowa’s first-in-the-nation nominating contest looking formidable, armed with high-profile endorsements and strong opinion poll numbers. His major rivals, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, had been stranded in Washington for weeks for Trump’s impeachment trial.
But during all that time in Iowa, it was not easy to find Biden yard signs even in the final crucial weeks in the run-up to the caucuses, while signs for Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who leads the field in Iowa with 71% of precincts reporting, were plentiful.
That disconnect between rosy poll numbers and the lack of enthusiasm on the ground is emblematic of the single biggest question that has dogged Biden’s campaign from the start: Can a 77-year-old white male moderate who spent more than 40 years in Washington excite Democrats increasingly eager for bold change?
For months, there were signs that the campaign – raising little money and less excitement from the sorts of people who knock on doors to lobby their neighbors to support Biden at a caucus – was not going to build a statewide organization as strong as several candidates in the wide Democratic field.