Joe Biden's admission to a local Connecticut TV station that he regrets taking a pass on the 2016 presidential race "every day" is sure to stoke (again)(again) talk of whether it is truly too late for Biden to get into the race for the Democratic nomination.
That question has a very simple answer: It is. And the reason is equally simple: Math.
No votes have yet been cast in the 2016 race. That won't happen until February 1 when Iowa kicks off the process. But -- and this is super important -- the chance to get your candidate's name on the ballot has already passed in more than a third of all states, and that number will grow to more than half by the end of this month, according to BallotPedia.
Without your name on the ballot, you aren't eligible to win delegates. And, winning delegates -- as we learned in the extended 2008 primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- is the name of the game. According to calculations made by Elaine Kamarck at Brookings, Biden has already sacrificed the chance at 1,000 possible delegates and, by the end of this month, will have missed out on 2,200 -- more than Clinton or Bernie Sanders will need to clinch the Democratic nod.
For Biden to run -- and have any chance at winning -- at this point, he would need to rapidly file in a series of states whose deadlines are sometime this month, an arduous, expensive and labor-intensive process. Then, given the delegate deficit he is already operating under, he would need to convince large numbers of delegates pledged in these early primaries to switch their allegiances at the party's national convention. Which, of course, ain't happening.
Biden, of course, knows that. Saying you "regret" not running isn't the same thing as saying you are now going to get in. Biden went on in that WVIT interview to say he thinks he made the right decision for his family who continue to grieve the loss of Biden's eldest son, Beau.
Anyone paying attention during Biden's decision-making process late last year could tell he was agonizing over the choice. On the one hand, he quite clearly believed himself to be the best Democratic candidate and someone who best knew the challenges and opportunities of running for and being president. On the other, Biden grasped the depth of the loss of Beau -- and how a presidential campaign would badly complicate the grieving process.
Biden's regret then is the sorrow of a man who knew he had a last, best chance to achieve his life's goal but also knew he couldn't seize it. Period.
As for another Biden boomlet, go back and look at the two charts above. It's just not happening.