The Democrats’ Trump

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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118 Responses

  1. Aaron David says:

    Mmm… We aren’t at the point of the debates yet, Joe is known to shoot his mouth off at… inopportune… times, he is in his seventies, there is a lot of audio and video of him acting the fool… I think this is a bit premature.

    Biden strikes me as being solely about who can beat Trump. But without a defined message, that won’t get you very far. Maybe enough in this case, but I wouldn’t count on it.Report

    • One of the things I think he shares with Trump is that his tendency to shoot his mouth off is factored into his support level. Hey may lose the nomination, but I’m reasonably confident it won’t be because of a gaffe. (Most likely it would be because another candidate just rides some lightning, Obama-style. No one jumps out at me as likely to do so, but could happen.)Report

    • pillsy in reply to Aaron David says:

      Biden is a very good debater; it’s the other side of the “gaffe-prone” coin. He’s always shooting off his mouth, but is also usually thinking on his feet. That experience serves him well in debate, even as it serves him poorly when he’s got a microphone in his face or is standing at a podium.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to pillsy says:

        You notice I didn’t say anything about his debating skills. I don’t think that is what is going to catch him up. It’s more that he will overrun his handlers on something that will get him. Something that he will do or say when NOT in the moment.

        His very own YEAHHH!! that he cannot answer for.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Aaron David says:

          It appears I misread your comment. I think you’re probably right that such a moment is the biggest risk between now and the debates.

          I’ve just been seeing plenty of people saying (and on the part of more Leftward folks, doing a bit of wish casting) that non-Biden candidates are likely to best him in the debates and springboard their way to victory that way. I think this is unlikely, despite the fact that I have zero enthusiasm for a Biden candidacy.Report

    • Do you think the country is ready for an old white guy with no filter?Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    If grabbing and groping at women won’t get Biden kicked out then that’s pretty much it for the idea that there’s some evil hidden scandal that’ll knock him out.

    And…the thing is, evil hidden scandals don’t knock people out in themselves. What they do is cause candidates to quit rather than answer That Damn Question every time. Gary Hart could absolutely have hung in there, so long as he was willing to hear about Donna Rice every time he talked to anyone. Clinton got hit with the “superpredators” thing and her response was “fuck you, everyone in the 90s loved it and everyone from back then who’s still around still loves it”, and it went away. And, famously, the Access Hollywood tape didn’t hardly do much to Trump at all, despite CNN playing it 24-7 after it showed up.Report

    • I really thought his handsiness was going to hurt him a lot more than it has. Which is to say, I thought it would at least hurt him some but it appears to hurt him none.

      The game changes if there’s a bona fide sexual assault case against him. I feel like if there was we would have heard about it by now… but that’s a case where it remains awfully early so I probably shouldn’t bank on that.

      But beyond that… I think a lot of people are waiting for The Thing to bring him down are going to be disappointed.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Will Truman says:

        My contrarian position was that unless we find out he’s a serial philanderer it wasn’t going to be a problem… in fact, I think I posted that he could even embrace (so to speak) his personal affections and hug his way to the nomination.

        If he really is simply avuncular and not a philanderer, then a lot of people will witness the “handsy” criticism of one of the reasons to vote for him… of course, I’ll reiterate for clarity, if we learn that he’s regularly propositioning women and a philanderer… then he’s toast. Has anyone made that accusation?Report

        • North in reply to Marchmaine says:

          So far, no. There’s been complaints that his handsiness was off-putting and creepy and frankly I completely get that. I’d find it off-putting and creepy too. But so far no one has accused him of going beyond the behavior that he’s on tape doing a hundred times in public. And I share Will’s surprise that it hasn’t done more damage.Report

        • LTL FTC in reply to Marchmaine says:

          He gets a pass on the handsiness because he doesn’t have any other creep signifiers and people who aren’t Extremely Online don’t default to the most uncharitable interpretation. NYT/WaPo/Slate had flood the zone coverage on Handsygate for a week and a half and nothing stuck. The media was a center of #metoo activity because it’s one of the few enclaves that cares about it. They’re not bringing the rest of the country along with them.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to LTL FTC says:

            Its one of the things Jaybird always reiterates: Does it bring my people out, keep their people home, etc. I think this might keep some farleft home while changing nothing on the right.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

              As far as I can figure, the Dem logic on this is that Obama-Trump voters will vote for the VP of the administration that drove them to the GOP in the first place.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Stillwater says:

                Oh, I agree.

                I am just saying that is how you lose.

                (Love or hate Trump, Obama, what have you, the world has moved on. That time and place no longer exist. Trying to recreate that is a fool’s errand. Its kinda like Groundhog Day. That scene where Murry almost goes to bed with McDowell’s character? And tries again the next day but everything goes wrong because he’s working too hard?

                Like that.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I don’t know that Obama drove people to the GOP as much as Hillary did.

                I mean, Obama *WON* Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:


                2016 votes for HRC: 65,844,610
                2012 votes for BHO: 65,915,795Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m trying to read that as refuting my point but I see it as making it.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                If you’re arguing that there is something about Hillary which only rust belt voters didn’t like, I’m all ears.

                The current explanation is that those voters flipped from Obama to Trump because they were dissatisfied with Obama-era policies*.

                *Which is why the suggestion that a member of the Obama admin will win them back is so mystifying.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                She got fewer votes than Obama did despite the population of the country growing significantly.

                It’s a “per capita” thing.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                She lost in the rust belt.

                Which isn’t a per capita thing.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                If the argument is that the Rust Belt voters like Democrats, but found something uniquely bad about HRC, the best test would be how much ticket-splitting there was.

                Best I can tell, after 2008 the GOP saw gains across the Rust Belt in 2010, 2012, and 2014 in all the downballot races where neither Obama nor HRC were the choices.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Allow me to copy/paste my argument again:

                I don’t know that Obama drove people to the GOP as much as Hillary did.

                I mean, Obama *WON* Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.


              • PD Shaw in reply to Jaybird says:

                Obama also won Iowa and Florida.Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to PD Shaw says:

                Remember the Maine (2nd Congressional District)!!!Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                IHonestly, Jaybird, I’d like to agree with you that Hillary-hate was the sole reason Trump won the election, but it’s hard to square that with at least two other things. First, Trump was equally disliked in the electorate, which effectively nullifies any GOTV (or Stay at home and don’t vote) advantage Hillary’s disapprovals may have given him. Second, it doesn’t explain the red-shift which had been occurring in those Blue Wall states since Obama’s first term began.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s not the sole reason, but Obama’s likability was fairly high (through the goddamn ROOF in 2008, only slightly lower in 2012).

                Trump’s likability? Also fairly high in 2016 (looks like it’ll be lower in 2020).

                Insofar as likability goes, I think that a reasonable case can be made that the more likable candidate won the last however many elections. Like, we have to go back to Nixon to find counter-examples (and we’ve no way of seeing what Nixon looked like in 1971).Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                How does this explain the 2010 and 2014 results?

                The GOP had its massive sweep election in 2010, when HRC was nowhere to be found.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Or, to repeat one of Jaybird’s oft cited factoids: Democrats lost a thousand seats while Obama was president….because people didn’t like Hillary.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                There was one seat in particular that the dems did *NOT* lose during those elections.

                It was the one in the Oval Office.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Thinking about this a bit more, I remembered that item #1 in Michael Moore’s 2016 post predicting Trump would win the rust belt states. They’d been trending red since 2010, and (according to Moore) Obama’s support of the TPP and other NAFTA-like trade agreements was a primary reason.

                fwiw, anywayReport

              • PD Shaw in reply to Stillwater says:

                I wonder if it was more environmental policy? A lot of rust belt jobs rely on trade; the media has been identifying a lot of those the last couple of years. But the counties that shifted the most from D to R appear to have a lot of mineral and timber extraction jobs. Also, a lot of people’s middle-class lifestyles in the Midwest are more closely related to driving than on the coasts.

                Just a hypothesis I’ve been thinking about since the Australia elections, where issues of global warming are probably more salient and may have cut against the party to the left. Not to say that environmental policies should be neglected, but telling people that their job will disappear to be replaced by jobs to be created some day as a 3-level environmental tech with their own cubicle may do little to suppress personal anxieties.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to PD Shaw says:

                Good observation, esp. with regards recent analysis from Australia… might have to bump that up the rhetorical calculations.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to PD Shaw says:

                Seems like a good hypothesis to me. I’d only add that environmentalism and neoliberalism have some similarities in that regard: both subvert the interests of the individual to a greater, or even a collective, good. Job losses resulting from outsourcing and offshoring were/are justified as creating jobs elsewhere while lowering the cost of goods and services to American consumers. Job losses from environmental policies are justified by preventing global harms that may never directly effect that person and may take years to manifest. People are treated like statistics. Or something like that, anyway.Report

            • LTL FTC in reply to Aaron David says:

              It doesn’t strike me as likely that the #resistance crowd is going to stay home. It’s not exactly Sista Soulja, but it’s the same logic, as far as it meant that you can safely ignore people with no other political home but a lot to lose from the GOP in power.

              There aren’t a lot of Biden voters in my orbit, but the ones who really hate the guy aren’t the kind of people most folks don’t want to share a party with, cocktail or political.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to LTL FTC says:

                Its the #metoo crowd might that might find him a bit too distasteful. That and how he reacts to it under pressure. Which we really haven’t seen yet.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

                Given that this is the most important election of our lifetimes, I’m not sure that they can afford to stay home.

                They need to vote for Biden and like it and if they don’t they’re objectively Trump supporters.Report

              • LTL FTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                If #metoo was really that big a driver of primary candidate choices, Gillibrand wouldn’t be polling at ~0%.

                There’s a story in the heads of the #resist people in which a woman, noble of spirit and preferably melinated of skin, takes down the evil old white male baddie. If Biden v. Trump was a movie, it would be rejected as a “white savior trope” before the opening credits.

                But they’ll get over it. If they don’t, they most likely live somewhere it doesn’t matter anyway.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Given that this is the most important election of our lifetimes…”

                Tomorrow never comes, it is always just today.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                The #metoo crowd has Georgia and the new conservative majority on the supreme court focusing their minds on the stakes. Purity politics tend to be weaker when the Dems aren’t succeeding their own president and the abortion question is gonna pound a couple more stakes into that corpse this cycle when it comes to the #metoo group.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        #MeToo has too much collateral damage. It hits far too many Bidens, not enough Pences.

        On a purely utilitarian level, it’s a liability.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to DensityDuck says:

      And, famously, the Access Hollywood tape didn’t hardly do much to Trump at all

      The Access Hollywood tape shook things up enough that even Pence was looking for the exits for a bit. But some other wikileaks reveal stepped into the news cycle and then Comey completely upended the news cycle.

      I really think a one two punch of Access Hollywood and Stormy Daniels (and/or the other woman) definitely would have sunk Trump. (at the end of the day, all it required was a few more women (or men) in PA and OH to defect or stay home on election day)Report

  3. pillsy says:

    I think this take has a whole handful of grains of truth to it… but isn’t this weird?

    Here we are talking about a candidate coming along and up-ending the conventional wisdom of the base and… he was a two term VP for a very popular Dem President? He was in the Senate for longer than many Democratic voters (and a few Democratic members of Congress) have been alive?

    And one of the ways he confounds expectations is that his rhetoric is more conciliatory and less angry than what we expect from the “base” of the Democratic Party.

    Now I think the perceptions of the base have been similarly distorted by the perceptions of the political press and political junkies, but the way the Extremely Offline Democrats have been reacting is very different from the way that Extremely Offline Republicans were.

    Trump’s nomination is widely understood as an expression of frustration and anger on the part of the GOP base, one which blindsided almost everybody.

    Joe Biden’s current popularity signals the opposite about the Democratic base, but is also a reversion to the mean for the party. We as a party tend to go for conciliatory, one way or another, and have done so since Bill Clinton at least.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to pillsy says:

      That’s kind of the gag. After all of this thought about how everything has changed, Biden is coming out of left field by being largely conventional and predictable. He is in many ways more analogous to Clinton ’16 and Gore ’00. But he’s not being viewed that way and there is an element similar to Trump that people are looking straight past him to read the tea leaves of where the party is when he is actually pretty indicative of where it is.

      The saying went that Democrats want to fall in love and Republicans fall in line. That’s pretty close to flipped now.Report

      • pillsy in reply to Will Truman says:

        There’s that. But Dems don’t fall in love with bomb throwers.

        The past two candidates that got us really excited (and not coincidentally won the elections) were Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to pillsy says:

          This is kinda my second point up above; Biden doesn’t have a message to spread. There is nothing to get everyone excited. No strong direction. Nothing to fall in love over. Beto was attempting to bring that, Buttigieg thinks he has that. Biden is the safety school candidate.

          And without that message, he’s just Kerry.Report

          • North in reply to Aaron David says:

            I think you’re missing the message because of your own unique point of view. Biden is preaching that he’ll go back to Obama’s manner of running things, will reach out (again) to Republicans and will put an end to the rolling dumpster fire Trump and his party have been having in DC. You have an unusual and unique view on Obama’s administration so that message doesn’t resonate at all with you. That doesn’t, however, make it no message. Just a message that won’t win over Aaron.Report

            • Aaron David in reply to North says:

              Nostalgia isn’t a message forward. Nostalgia doesn’t rebuild the blue wall.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                2018 seemed to suggest the blue wall built itself back up when Trump didn’t deliver for any of those voters and launched trade wars that have been tearing the mid-western farmers a new one.

                I don’t know if I want to hold a brief for nostalgia myself but regardless you said Biden has no message. Nostalgia is a message.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                “He’s good enough”

                That loses elections.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Good thing for Biden, then, that he’s not running on that message.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Then what is he running on?Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                To pick up where Obama left off and resume working along those lines and in a similar manner. You loathe Obama’s tenure and you’ve given your reasons why but a large portion of the centrist voters and an overwhelming percentage of Democrats hold Obama in high esteem and think he did a good job. That is not a nostalgia pitch and it’s most assuredly not “he’s good enough”.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Setting aside my feelings about Obama, that IS “he’s good enough.” Obama was 10years ago, Biden isn’t the first black president, he isn’t coming off of Bush’s tenure, he isn’t lightning in a bottle…

                He isn’t offering anything new.

                Now, I set aside my feeling about Obama, it might help if you do the same. Right now we have the best economy in decades, the left is split between the woke and centrists… How will he bridge that? What is Biden offering to make lives better? Nostalgia. That might, might, be enough, but do you want to count on that? Its what Romney offered, Gore offered, and countless others have offered.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                No, he’s coming off Trump’s tenure which is no small thing and is a pretty strong argument. Hell, after four years of Trump and the Republicans rolling dysfunction a return to sober boring government seems pretty “new”.

                I was find with Obama but far from emotional about the man. I was for Hillary in 08 and still think things would have turned out better if she hadn’t fucked it up that year and thus shunted Obama off to 2016 where his hope and change schtick would have potentially worked better after eight years of her and the GOP scorched earthing each other. Neither Trump nor any other President can claim much credit for how the economy performs as you well know. The best thing we can say about Trump is that, despite his best efforts, he hasn’t managed to drive the economy into a wall yet though with his trade wars he certainly seems to be earnestly trying.

                I’ll reiterate; I’m not a Biden supporter myself. I’d rather one of the younger centrists get the nod- I think Amy would be an ideal candidate. Biden, though, has a message which is “We were running the country pretty well four years ago and we can run it well again if you ditch Trump.” He’s talking about four years ago, not forty. I don’t think you can brush that off as merely nostalgia. Especially not this early in the game.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                “We were running the country pretty well four years ago..” And then the country jumped to Trump. And now the economy is the best in 50 years. The ad, it writes itself.

                He needs to get away from nostalgia, right now.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Heh, the only major change in the economy from the Obama years to Trump ones was the right went from saying “only 2-3% growth?!?” to “Wow! 2-3% growth!” Oh and deficits went from being the end of the world to no big deal. Again. No doubt if Trump loses the economy will magically turn into a disaster again.

                As for more messaging beyond that? At this stage of the primary I don’t know that advice is sound at all.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Look, rehashing the eight years of Obama between us won’t get us anywhere. We simply disagree on them. I just think that Biden is a sign of losing. You don’t.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

                “Then what is he running on?”

                Make America Great Again.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

                Here’s another guess: Biden, who had months to think about and prepare in advance of declaring, hasn’t put forward any policy proposals or specifics or even the outline of the direction he wants to take the country in, and that’s by design. All he’s running on is “beat Trump”, and he’ll stick to only that message as tightly as he can, for as long as he can. All he wants you to know is that he wants to beat Trump.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Stillwater says:

                And that is a loser.Report

              • Rebuilding after an earthquake isn’t nostalgia, it’s survival.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

            Biden is the safety school candidate.

            And without that message, he’s just Kerry.

            That’s my view as well. Dems who support Joe! based on perceived “electability” are betting (with insufficient evidence, in my view) that general election voters at the time they pull the lever will hate Trump more than they hated Bush, and even more importantly, that they’ll hate Trump more than they hate Dems.

            The problem I see, which I think you agree with to some extent, is that Democrats have to give people a reason to vote *for* them which is at least as compelling as merely voting against Trump. Joe! doesn’t do that.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              Joe is more likable than Kerry was.

              Kerry was not particularly likable. His gaffes were frustrating rather than funny and defending them put you on your back foot rather than able to counter-attack.

              Does Biden win Michigan? Yeah, he does. Wisconsin? Yeah. Pennsylvania? Pretty sure. Ohio? Maybe. Dunno. But maybe. (Maybe even Colorado!)

              What states does he lose?

              New Hampshire?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Is Hillary likeable? Not particularly. But she wins Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin…”

                Of course, I get what you’re saying: Generic Dem decisively beats Trump in national polling right now, and Joe! = Generic Dem.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                But more than that, Joe is *LIKABLE*.

                He’s a big ol’ goofball. “Avuncular”, was the word Marchmaine used and I’m gonna use it too.

                He has a friendly and easygoing charisma that both Kerry and Hillary did not have.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                I understand that.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

      I’m full of contrarian takes today… what if we’re terrible at defining whatever that thing we call the Base is.

      It seems “The Base” ™ is some subset coalition that becomes “The Base” for whatever purpose we need to designate Basiness. I don’t think there’s coherent political philosophy of a Republican or Democratic Base. Or put another way, I can totally define exactly what the Political Philosophy of The Base is, whenever I need to. Until I’m proven wrong by another definition of The Base that seems to drive action within the Party. At which point, we redraw the circle that encompasses The Base to include those people and not those other people. At no point do we ever arrive at a Base.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

      Trump’s nomination is widely understood as an expression of frustration and anger on the part of the GOP base, one which blindsided almost everybody.

      Joe Biden’s current popularity signals the opposite about the Democratic base, but is also a reversion to the mean for the party.

      Personally speaking here, while you’re probably right that Trump’s nomination blindsided people, the frustration and anger of conservatives and GOP voters was palpable. The Tea Party was a sign of an emerging challenge to the GOP status quo based almost entirely on pissed-offness. GOP voters were tired of being lied to.

      On the other hand, I’d be cautious about attributing Biden’s current popularity to Dems being conciliatory or regressing to the mean. First, it assumes that from a lefty’s pov Obama was a radical progressive rather than someone constantly criticized *from the left* for being too centrist/establishment status quo. Second, I think Biden’s current popularity is driven almost entirely (except for a few nostalgia voters) by the perhaps mistaken belief that he has the best chance to defeat Trump in the general. Now, in defense of people who support Joe! right now, and to give them credit for some strategic thinking: prioritizing the general election electability of the Dem nominee makes sense given vanishingly small odds of the Dems gaining control of the Senate*. Since Dems won’t be able to advance their agenda, the short term goal should be to minimize the power of the GOP to advance their own (judges!).

      *It’s mystifying to me that Dem National has such little interest in Senate races. It’s like deja vu all over again.Report

      • North in reply to Stillwater says:

        Wouldn’t nominating Joe and sending all those Senator candidates back to be incumbents in the Senate be a form of prioritizing the Senate?Report

      • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

        First, it assumes that from a lefty’s pov Obama was a radical progressive rather than someone constantly criticized *from the left* for being too centrist/establishment status quo.

        That’s the mean I’m talking about. I think Hillary Clinton (not entirely correctly or fairly) was treated by a lot of observers both inside and outside the party as a much more starkly partisan figure.

        It’s mystifying to me that Dem National has such little interest in Senate races. It’s like deja vu all over again.

        That’s because a Senate seat, especially as a member of the Democratic minority with McConnell running the show, isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss to a Democratic pol with higher ambitions.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

          That’s because a Senate seat, especially as a member of the Democratic minority with McConnell running the show, isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss to a Democratic pol with higher ambitions.

          What if, and stay with me here, Dems flipped three seats and won the Presidency?Report

          • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

            At this point that’s probably less likely than not flipping those seats and winning the Presidency.

            What I’m really afraid of is the the various hopefuls realize that we’ll have more protracted gridlock even if the Dems win back the Senate because the current Senate Dems have cold feet about ending the filibuster.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    I see Joe Biden vs. Warren as something of a national version of the primary challenges against Cuomo by Teachout and Nixon. Cuomo isn’t very popular with white liberal members of the Democratic Party,.He is seen as being too transactional as a politician. He might pursue a liberal agenda if it looks promising but he doesn’t really believe in it and is seen as vaguely corrupt but without much substance behind the allegations. Teachout and Nixon were popular because they were women, they were seen as sincerely liberal, and non-corrupt. People of color preferred Cuomo by a very large margin though and that allowed Cuomo to easily beat off the primary challenges against him.

    Biden is not well liked by the younger, whiter, and more openly progressive members of the Democratic Party. They believe that it is time for a change and the Democratic Party needs to go harder against the Republicans, pursue bold policy agendas, and recruit more women and people of color to fight incipient White Christian nationalist misogynistic fascism in the United States. They see the preference for Biden by older Democrats and people of color as a sign of being shell-shocked and going for the safe choice to fight Trump. Some of them justify this by saying older Black voters know how racist White Americans are, so they can for somebody that they believe White Americans would vote for. They can’t believe that older Democrats and people of color might actually like Joe Biden and like what he has to say. Half of the Democratic Party is over fifty and half of the Democratic Party describes themselves as moderates or conservatives. Biden is what they want because he says what they want to hear.Report

  5. Pinky says:

    “Gaffes and goofs (and in Biden’s case, in particular, his old school positions on various issues) are already factored into his level of support.”

    I don’t think I agree with this article in general, but that’s a really interesting idea.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    Some thoughts:

    1. We are still very early in the nomination game and a lot of polling right now is still all about name recognition. Everyone here is weird and pays attention to politics by an order of several magnitudes compared to the average American. Even if that average American is a regular and reliable partisan voter for the Democrats or Republicans.

    2. Negative partisanship and asymmetrical radicalization are very real things. Part of the Democratic base (and I am part of this faction or at least very sympathetic to it) caught up and does not believe that the GOP acts in good faith. There are still lots of Democrats (I believe about half in polls) that think bipartisanship and comity are very important.

    3. The Democratic Party is the National Unity/Big Tent Party and contains everyone from working-class activists and the new Social Democratic wing to people who are socially liberal, maybe a bit economically liberal, but still see nothing wrong with working in private equity and making oodles of money.

    4. This will be Biden’s third run for the Presidency. He screwed up quite spectacularly the first two times. He might back for three.

    5. Do you remember in May 2007 when HRC was crushing the polls and everyone thought she would be going against McCain in 2008?

    6. Do you remember what the polls were like for the Republican primaries during this time in 2015 or earlier?

    Biden might very well be the nominee. I will gladly vote for him or anyone else against the dumpster fire known as Trump.Report

    • Even HRC wasn’t ahead by this much in 2008, though. And no one was winning the GOP like this in 2016. It’s not a foregone conclusion, but it’ll take an Obama like surge and I don’t see an Obama here. He has the best #2 in the race he could hope for.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “5. Do you remember in May 2007 when HRC was crushing the polls and everyone thought she would be going against McCain in 2008?”

      Which only serves to remind me how her Primary Strategy seemed (IIRC) to under allocate time/resources/money to some sorts of primaries – was it caucuses in smaller states? – which started to add up and small problems became big problems?

      Possibly I’m misremembering… but dang, foiled twice by similar miscalculations? Once more and we’d have a pattern.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I will also agree with my brother because Twitter does not represent the Democratic Party by and large even though they get really enraged if you say this. They are younger than average, more educated than average, more liberal than average, and I also think more white than average when compared to the rest of the Democratic Party. Biden’s big polling deficit is with under 40 voters and unfortunately for that set, they don’t vote regularly so why should politicians listen to them?

    I’m going with Warren as my top choice and think she has a chance to be a darkhorse candidate. She is a skilled campaigner despite what her detractors say. My one issue with Warren is that a Republican governor will appoint her successor and that makes taking back the Senate much more important.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    In other “bipartisan” news, the Atlantic is filled with Pollyanna morons who publish shit like this:

    The number of anti-Trump Republicans is probably large enough to fit inside a small conference room at suburban business hotel.They are still far to the right overall even compared the moderates in the Democratic Party that like Joe Biden. Yet these anti-Trump Republicans are probably wealthier and more prestigious than average and they are very, very upset at their irrelevance. They demand to rule. For some reason, journalists love giving them a soapbox.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      There are more anti-Trump Republicans than you think. But the key thing is that they’re not in a conference room at a suburban business hotel. They’re at the same parties as the Washington press corps.

      I have three rules for understanding the press:
      1) They’re lazy – they’re about 6 months behind every trend.
      2) They’re lazy – they pass along their friends’ press releases as news pieces.
      3) They’re lazy – they’ve never thought about the issues, so they repeat what their college professors told them.

      In this case, the latter two motivations come into play. They know some guy from that cable news show they were both on, and he’s saying that he doesn’t like Trump, so maybe they should do a story about him. If there is movement in the anti-Trump Republican ranks, the press will find out about it in six months or so.Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It is a little rich, I agree, the libertarians and establishment republicans who’ve been literally turfed out of their home in the Republican party standing on the sidewalk in the rain telling Democrats that “We’re willing to move in with you, but you’re going to have to let us change your house to our liking.”

      But the group that got turfed by Trump is wealthy and well connected to media organs so of course it’s very visible. Look at the contrast between how present and loud principled libertarians (and their less principled glibertarian or republitarian cousins) are on the internet vs how many people libertarians can actually get to vote for them in actual elections.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        I’d like to point out, again, that the Libertarians got the highest percentage of the vote in their history in 2016. 3%.

        You may laugh and scoff at “only” 3%, but, to that point, the second highest was in 1980 with Anderson and they got 1%.

        (Want me to bother finding the numbers for Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio? Will you take my word for it that the margin for those votes, in each state, exceeded the margin between the two real parties? (I don’t even know that that’s true, but I’d bet money that it’s true for three of the four.))Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yes, I believe your math. The party dedicated to libertarian principles did better than it ever did before while they were almost entirely routed from the right wing party that actually can win elections and run the country frequently. So I suppose depending on how you look at it they either had their best election ever or their worst.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to North says:

            I’m not going to say that they’re necessarily worth courting.

            The change that Democrats would have to do (the virtues that they’d have to signal) would probably turn off more of the most enthusiastic Democratic voters and it’d result in a net loss.

            Assuming that signalling those virtues wouldn’t also pick up Republicans, of course.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

              The virtue theory of realignment is interesting not for what virtues get signalled but for which virtues are dropped.
              ~Abraham LincolnReport

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                The thing about dropping them without sending new ones still allows for some serious semiotics. Signalling a new virtue makes semiotics a lot tougher (but not impossible… see Obama/Clinton on gay marriage in 2008).Report

    • pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      My opinion of anti-Trump Republicans is less harsh than the Saul’s, but I still think this is essentially right. They are a pretty small constituency, but one that is hugely overrepresented in the press, and people the press likes to interview.

      Nonetheless, they still say some really weird stuff. In the piece you linked some of it is stuff I disagree with but the disagreement is normative (the “originalist judges who respect the Constitution” guff), but some of the stuff is from Bizarro World. Come on, dude:

      McConnell would actually have more freedom to push for spending reform with a Democrat in the White House, liberated from Trump’s free-spending ways and the need to help his caucus ride his electoral coattails.

      Imagine believing McConnell cares about spending reform.

      Hell, imagine believing McConnell cares about anything.

      This brings to mind a recent Andrew Egger piece from The Bulwark, which is better [1], and has some reasonably interesting things to say about the ways Biden and Bernie might be appealing to their respective constituencies. Nonetheless, it starts getting into suggesting strategies that a “moderate” like Biden might use to expand its appeal, and it mostly turns to garble.

      Some of it is just refusing to take “Yes” for an answer, where Eggers suggests that Biden might possibly appeal to those moderates by softening his stance on issues like abortion and gun control.[2] But some of it is so heavy in conservative shibboleths that I’m not sure what the guy even wants:

      Of course, just saying all of that out loud seems laughable. Can you actually imagine a top-tier Democratic candidate trying to offer even a marginal concession on abortion? Or religious freedom? (Gun control seems slightly more plausible.)

      What does he even mean by a “marginal concession” on “religious freedom”? If he wants a candidate who will take a bold stand by saying that religious freedom is Good, Actually, then Joe Biden is his huckleberry, but so is every other Democrat. So he wants more, but it’s not at all clear what “more” entails. It calls back to this earlier passage:

      They’re worried, rather, that Democrats are trying to grind down all ways of life not pre-approved by the liberal state—one which, moreover, is increasingly exacting in its standards. It is a fear of cultural totalitarianism, rather than economic totalitarianism, and this is rolled under the umbrella threat of “socialism.”

      First, yes, he has to explain the silly Rightward canard that everything that is bad is “socialism”. But what follows is actually much weirder, because as far as I can tell it’s the same sort of inchoate Culture War anxiety we generally get from conservatives, unmoored from any kind of discernible policy prescriptions.

      Now, these days I try (with maybe some tiny flicker of success) to empathize with those anxieties and accept that people are going to express them. But if you’re looking for something from a President, I think you probably need to have some idea what you’re looking for beyond that vague sense of dread. This is especially true coming from conservatives, who traditionally reject the idea that we should be looking to the government, much less the federal government, for emotional succor.

      [1] In part, I suspect, because The Bulwark‘s brand is “anti-Trump conservatives”.

      [2] I have zero patience for Rightward complaints about how extreme Dems are about abortion after all the bullshit we see coming out of Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, ad nauseam. But this piece was written before they really started flooding out of statehouses.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to pillsy says:

        Gee, pillsy, where have we read such stuff before? And how have our efforts to tease some concrete meaning out of it gone?
        Until someone actually steps up and says something specific enough to wrestle with, I’m writing this sort of thing off as: “I hate Trump, and will gladly vote for the Democrats if only they would nominate a Republican.”Report

      • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

        The better description of Never-Trump Republicans is Blue State Republicans whose votes don’t matter for purposes of the presidency. I would know as I am related to a bunch of them.Report

        • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

          I think there’s a lot of overlap. Blue State Republicans are over-represented in the institutional GOP, because the institutional GOP is pretty heavily concentrated in the DC and NYC Metros.

          I think that concentration also has something to do with why there’s so much Culture War focus on the folkways of the young, urban, and hip.Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    Also isn’t the whole point of the tortoise and the hare to teach that sometimes slow and steady does win the race? We are months away from the first causes and primaries and already Joe is a foregone conclusion?Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      He’s not foregone; it’s just math. You read 538 Saul, you know how this works. People in Joe’s numerical position now, historically, tend to go on to win their contest.
      I’m not exactly over the moon about Joe myself. But as far as problems go having Joe Biden as the front runner and most likely nominee is not a very terrible problem to have.Report

  10. North says:

    Great post Will. That last part is why I still am so comfortable being a partisan Dem despite the old donkey party’s very obvious faults and issues. They’re still a broad functioning party, they still want to do well by their voters and they still want to govern the country.Report

  11. Aaron David says:

    Oh, one other thing comes to mind, something that Density brought up.

    Name recognition.

    Biden has it in spades. No one else does. So at this point, he could be the default, especially with twenty-five odd candidates knocking boots and sucking up oxygen. But, that could be in his favor too.Report

    • North in reply to Aaron David says:

      He’s certainly not a shoo in yet. Personally I’d be much more comfortable if one of the younger candidates in the centrist lane end up winning the nomination. But prediction wise his lead is a better position to be in for winning the nod than not and the fact that the Democratic Party instinctively gravitates to a candidate like him and who is saying the things he’s saying says things about the Democratic party (mostly good things Trumwill and I think but you and Stillwater understandably beg to differ).Report

      • Stillwater in reply to North says:

        My guess: this moment right now is the high point of Joe’s primary run. No one has gone in against him and he hasn’t been challenged on policy specifics. He hasn’t had to respond or react. He’s floating. He’s still clean. Pretty soon the knives will come out.*

        *Or maybe not {echoes of 2015 are suddenly ringing in my ears}Report

        • North in reply to Stillwater says:

          I think that’s entirely possible. If the numbers don’t change then all the other candidates have every reason to go after Joe with everything they’ve got*. This is so far, however, from 2015 that I’m baffled by what you’re talking about. Joe hasn’t cleared the field of anyone but Bloomberg. There isn’t an outgoing Democratic administration and Trump is not an unknown quality anymore.

          *Unless they fall for the GOP 2015 error of hoping someone else will do it for them.Report

  12. LeeEsq says:

    One thing that Joe Biden really has going for him is that he seem to be the potential Democratic nominee that Trump fears the most. Trump wants Warren because he believes that it would be effectively running against Hillary Clinton again, he sees Warren as somebody whose skin he can get under. Its going to be Pocahontas and a much rawer and vulgar version of Reagan-Mondale with Warren in Trump’s mind. Biden is somebody whom Trump fears because he will simply, I don’t know, radiant decency, generosity, and positive charisma like a sort of anti-Trump.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I think this is about right.

      Even during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, no one from the GOP could really land any punches on Biden. There isn’t really any angle of attack that sticks.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        During Biden’s original entry into the 2020 race, Trump called him Sleepy Joe I think. If this is the best Trump can do against Biden, Trump really has nothing. Trump will certainly be thinking of insults but nothing is going to come to him. The best hope is fake left stealth attack but even that might not work because of how hated Biden is.Report

  13. Kolohe says:

    Looking at those numbers, the path for Biden is Bernie sticking around from now to the end and always getting that 20ish percent and thus no one else can get enough support to adhere to break through into second place and directly challenge Biden. (and especially if Warren and Harris continue to split their current combined 15 to 20% share but always alternate who’s ahead)Report

  14. duh man says:

    its not that complicated. there are more than 8 candidates, and Biden is conventional and was parto f the Obama administration. If the liberal wing doesn’t want to shoot itself in the foot, then get people to drop out, and soon. How else did Trump win except that he ran against a divided field.Report

  15. Victor says:

    Bernie looks poised to win the Democratic nomination and might do even better at the debate face-off with MAGAReport