I have fought for the Democratic Party my whole career. That’s not something everyone in this primary can say. https://t.co/JCNqAlbSo0
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 5, 2019
President Trump has a gift, an effective means of negating his own extensive vulnerabilities. In spite of his public history of personal misconduct, fledgling understanding of certain policies and propensity for saying foolish things, he has an incredible ability to elicit the absolute worst in his opponents. He drives them mad. Then they do and say things that are stupid.
Some of us have been suggesting for months now that former Vice President Joe Biden is the candidate in the Democratic field with the best chance to beat President Trump in 2020. This is because Biden is a moderate in a field of rabidly progressive radicals who’ve collectively responded to Trump’s revocation of Obama-era legislation with a gross romanticizing of policy that died with the Soviet Union. The problem for Democrats, as it goes, is that they simply won’t let Biden have the nomination.
Recent polling suggests this still holds true.
According to an October New York Times/Siena College poll, President Trump is trailing Joe Biden by an average of two points in key swing states which voted Republican in 2016. The poll has Trump losing in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona, and tied with Biden in Michigan. Elizabeth Warren, the emerging frontrunner for the nomination, trails Trump by two points, the exact margin by which Hillary Clinton lost in these same states in 2016.
Though Biden retains an eight-point lead in the national polling average despite a recent surge from Warren and fresh polling that shows her leading in decisive states, there’s a palpable disinterest in his candidacy among Democrats: Former President Obama won’t endorse him. He’s viewed as a relic of a bygone era, insufficiently committed to the radical change required to combat Trump and far less exciting than the zesty Elizabeth Warren, who has plans for everything.
While Warren may be actively hunting down the nomination, she isn’t as competitive against Trump as Biden, or even Sanders for that matter. As the polling would suggest, many of the things that make Biden palatable in a general election are kneecapping him in the primaries, which likely doesn’t bode well for the Democrats if they’re to hand the nomination to the Bolshevik Warren instead.
It’s not uncommon for candidates to campaign farther left or right during primaries before drifting back to the center for the general as their voting demographic changes ideologically to such a significant extent. The problem for Democrats is that they’ve jumped off an ideological cliff, finding it more stimulating to pursue a radical agenda which pleases the loudest and angriest among the progressive base and shuns those reluctant moderates for being insufficiently committed. If Democrats want to beat President Trump a year from now, they’re going to have to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts, forgoing the more unkempt aspects of their hairy agenda in favor of proposals which register more positively among the general electorate.
And there needs to be a reality check.
President Trump has a convincing case for reelection: The economy has responded positively to his administration’s tax cuts and deregulation, he’s confirmed two originalist judges to the Supreme Court and has a collection of foreign policy victories to boast, including the decimating of ISIS in the Middle East capped by the recent killing of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. If Trump were as stable a genius as he suggests, he’d shut up and point the finger at Democrats because they’re beating themselves badly right now.
The deeply inauthentic Elizabeth Warren is so radically leftist that she doesn’t know how to defend her own policies, likely because they’re actually Bernie Sanders’ and she doesn’t believe in many of them (see “The Two-Income Trap”). Forget her repugnant plans to fundamentally restructure the financial system and gouge the middle class for universal healthcare, nobody’s even broached her Native American heritage cock and bull story yet.
This field is weak. Hillary Clinton’s interest in entering the race and the party’s intense focus on impeachment would suggest that Democrats understand this. As for President Trump, his uncouth mouthing off and failure to sufficiently capitalize on his opposition’s agenda thus far, indicates that he’s more preoccupied with defending his ego than touting his record and winning reelection. Given their exceedingly radical platform and shunning of Biden, the Democrats don’t seem willing to let themselves have this election, even with Trump’s fondness for the path of most resistance.
It appears this one’s going to come down to who least wants it the least.
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Kevin Catapano is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.