Who Can Stop Biden?

Luis A Mendez

Luis A Mendez

When he’s not writing supernatural stories, Luis Mendez is obsessively following public opinion trends and gauging likely election outcomes. He has written about the subject for various publications and runs a monthly updated website trying to predict coming elections.

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60 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I truly believe that if more Americans would watch the debates, Biden’s poll numbers would drop. I’ve watched both nights with him and he just looks so…old. He looks confused at times and I just can’t imagine him in the WH.

    And I say this as someone who thinks Sanders, Warren and even Trump seem more lucid. If you Google Biden the second hit is ‘Biden age’. He would be 78 when is sworn in. Reagan was 73 and I remember when we thought that was old. I seriously don’t understand what the frack people are thinking.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I’m not sure Biden’s age is that much of an issue, because he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer when he was 40. He’s run quite a few times and I think this is the furthest he’s ever gotten.

      The trouble is, this time there aren’t heavyweight candidates like [ insert list of past Democrat primary candidates over the past thirty years ].Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I seriously don’t understand what the frack people are thinking.

      Totally not joking here: the thinking is ‘he’s the best we can do.’Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Biden is old old old and that certainly gives me nightmares. I’m also deeply concerned about his debate performances but am willing to suspend judgement there for a while more: the first couple debates are the “Okay marginal candidates, here’s your shot, show us what you’ve got” debates; not conventional debates like what the nominee will face in the general. I’ll be watching the September and subsequent debates closely.

      As for what people are thinking? Biden has a lot of cred with moderate both high and low engagement voters who are, contra the right wing and wokerati’s assertions*, the overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party. And his opponents haven’t convinced that huge base of people that Biden is unsuitable yet.

      So Biden is the default. That’s not the most terrible default to have but he’s soooo old.

      *Seriously, not only is the centrist lane holding Biden up at his current support level but they’re also sustaining Pete, maybe a quarter of Warren, about half of Harris and all of Beto’s campaigns as well as Klobacher and the various moderate also-rans as well.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        The Biden that self-destructed previously was not the Biden beloved VP of Obama and good sport regarding Onion joshing. Plus Biden did well against Ryan, I think he can do well against Trump. Far from my favorite but….Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

        I noticed a bunch of little tells when he was being engaged in the second debate. You could see him mouthing words as the other candidates were speaking directly to him. That’s a think older people do to help themselves follow the conversation. My 80 year-old grandmother did it all the time. He also seemed like he was having trouble following complex questions.

        Beyond his age though, he’s just leaning so heavily into being Obama’s heir and not his own person.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          That’s a good point and I agree, his age and energy level is a huge concern of mine.

          Leaning heavily into Obama, though, is a really strong play both in the primary and the general. Obama bailed out the auto industry and Biden can point to that which basically suggests that MI and PA will return to the Democratic fold with a Biden candidacy. 2018 suggests that WI is trending blue right now and Trumps trade wars are just eviscerating farmers which is gonna be a big problem for him in the midwest in general. If Trump loses WI, PA and MI where does he make it up? CO is not likely to turn red. Jay has suggested NH but that’s a tiny state. Where will he get the votes?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

            I honestly cannot think of a single place where Trump picks up new votes, even if Dems run Satan himself. From my perspective he can only lose votes in 2020, but maybe someone else has a better analysis.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North says:

            If Trump loses WI, PA and MI where does he make it up?

            Seems to me the GOP’s attempt to cast 2020 as an existential choice between freedom and socialism will play less well in those states if Biden’s the candidate than, say, Warren. Maybe I’m trying to convince myself of something that’s not true, though. 🙂Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    https://www.vox.com/2019/8/6/20757406/warren-biden-sanders-democratic-presidential-polls

    Elizabeth Warren did very well in the second debates though Biden still holds a lead. Biden commands number 1 he has the strong support of older African-American voters so far. Then again, so did HRC in 2007. I suspect Warren might be able to do a strong a stead rise to the nomination but it is not guaranteed. Sanders seems to have a floor at 15 percent which is significant but not as large as he or his fans want.

    Electability is an odd thing. Is it something voters consider? Yes. Do they use all sorts of metrics that the woker and wonkier wish were not factors? Also yes. But those factors don’t always work. Look at the GA-6. This is Newt Gingrich’s old district. Democrats thought they would have a chance with moderate dude Ossof. He lost to Karen Handel. In 2018, Lucy McBath, an African-American woman won the district and she ran as a liberal, not a moderate or wishy-washy.

    So there is always a weird hindsight is 20/20 thing regarding electability. If Liz Warren defeats Trump in 2020, it proves that a Harvard professor that lives in Cambridge is electable nationally despite conventional wisdom of the pundit class. If Kamala Harris wins the nomination and the general election, an African-American from San Francisco/Baghdad on the Bay is electable. If they lose, the narrative will be “Democrats should have gone with Biden.” If Biden wins the nomination but loses the general, the narration will be “Democrats should have nominated a woman like Liz Warren or Kamala Harris.”Report

  3. Avatar LTL FTC says:

    I’m not sold on Biden, but the way the dem-leaning press has been going after him is nearly unprecedented. After a week of flood-the-zone coverage on handsygate got nowhere, he got pilloried for taking the wildly more popular position on a four-plus decades old issue. Nothing the left pundit class cares about seems to resonate with actual voters. Some recent healthcare talk aside, the day to day news churn just isn’t about relevant issues and the stagnant polls show this.

    The 2016 primaries were a mulligan for the great Awokening because the tiresome establishment choice was also on top of the progressive stack. Warren, Harris and Booker are all aiming for the woke lane and discovering that it’s 25% of the party at absolute best. Primaries in states like SC will swing on black voters, who think nothing like Rep. Pressley’s “black voices.”

    If you really want to beat Biden, you’re going to have to stop raising your hand in these debates and cut the pandering. Park Slope, last I heard, was not in Iowa or New Hampshire. I thought Harris was going to take this lane, but her opening gambit against Biden committed her to scrapping with two other contenders for the same mostly white 20- and 30-something women who make up the culture war’s left flank.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to LTL FTC says:

      I know people would raise issues about his age, but I think Jimmy Carter would have a real shot this time. What’s Trump going to use against him, “Are you better off now than you were 45 years ago?” He’d be the only candidate who stood up to the Soviet Union, the only candidate whose taken real action on energy efficiency, and the only candidate who brings actual Presidential experience.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to LTL FTC says:

      I keep going back and forth on Harris. I see one interview and she seems reasonable and I think, ‘I could vote for her if she was the nominee.” Then I see a video of her clearly pandering to a black church or looking like she wants to kill someone in another interview and I get turned off. Also, regarding SC… a black friend of mine told me he would never vote for Harris because she was the kind of black woman that terrified him. I really wonder how she will do down there. There is a perception (I think) even in the black community that maybe she isn’t really one of them. And as many have pointed out, her record as AG will be problematic with some of those voters.Report

      • Biden is over 50% approval with African-American voters in SC currently, to answer your question.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

          I assume we can contribute nearly all of that to his linkage with Obama. Question is how much Harris can bleed off between now and then.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Forget how much; how about if she can bleed off any. It’s hard to attack Biden without attacking Obama and in a party where Obama has something like 90% popularity (and it’ll be even higher in the AA community) that is really dangerous.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

              Yeah, it seems nearly impossible to separate them unless Obama threw him under the bus at some point. I really believe he did not want Joe to run and is probably unhappy about being faced with endorsing someone he knows isn’t the best choice or appearing to betray his buddy. TR tried it and we got stuck with Woodrow Wilson. Barf…Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North says:

              Right, North.

              The same post-Debate 2 poll that had Biden at 55% AA support in SC had Harris and Booker at 1% with them combined. There’s no chance what they did in those debates didn’t deteriorate their position with those voters. Their approach is clearly landing with a thud in the community.

              So what’s their next idea? Maybe it’ll be more well-received. I’d be shocked, though.Report

          • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Harris still runs behind Bernie among black voters – third place. She is by no means the lock for fleeing Biden voters.

            Thing is, without Biden, that mainstream lane is empty save a couple of zero-percenters that the thinkfluencers helpfully remind us they can’t distinguish between.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to LTL FTC says:

              I wonder how Booker would do if he could somehow jump the line to the top 3? Surely he has more support in the AA community?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I don’t think so.

                Earlier this morning I was sifting through the Economist/YouGov poll because it’s completely post-debate.

                Real Clear Politics polls

                That particular poll is linked at the top of their list, and has Tulsi at 3% and Harris dropping to 8% (she peaked at 15%).

                The polling data is 417 pages long, so there’s an immense wealth of details, such as that 56% of Democrats think Trump probably won’t be re-elected.

                Booker has higher unfavorability (20%) among blacks than Buttigieg does (14%), but somewhat less than Harris (21%).Report

            • Avatar North in reply to LTL FTC says:

              Mayor Pete is (mostly) centrist and Klobucher is going to last past September at the very least so there’d be plenty of moderate alternatives for centrists to go to if Biden imploded. Booker is in there too.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LTL FTC says:

              The theory of smart people like Matthew Yglesias is that if it weren’t for Biden who shouldn’t be running, that lane – the popular policy lane – would be represented by someone who isn’t a bad messenger for the moderate message, since obviously Biden overcoming a ridiculous age deficit to consistently pull support near the 2nd-place-plus-3rd-place doesn’t at all suggest that possibly he might actually be as good a messenger for it as Amy Klobuchar, the 1%er about whom nobody knows anything but something gross about a comb (she’s my senator and I love her and if you say anything mean about her I will take my ball and go home).Report

    • Avatar North in reply to LTL FTC says:

      Yes, Harris fished up massively on the abolish private insurance plans question. Massive screw up. First she raised her hand and thus turned off the centrists and then she backpedaled and looked like an idiot or a flip-flopper. Ugh.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LTL FTC says:

      Perfectly said, LTL FTC.Report

  4. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    In a way, Trump dispels any concerns about Biden, and does it repeatedly, on a daily basis.

    Senile, unable to focus? No problem!
    Poor health, liable to stroke out? No Worries!
    Mindset stuck in a previous decade? Feature, not bug!
    Socially awkward, prone to faux pas? The man is just authentic!Report

  5. Avatar North says:

    I go back and forth on Biden. Policy wise he’s pretty decent and a return to Obama’s era is a very strong general election theme to run on. He’s so elderly, though, and I’m concerned about his stamina for what cannot help but be a grueling campaign.

    The challenges are steep for the other candidates. For the more liberal crowd we’re basically talking about how they can turn 25% of the party or so into a winning coalition in the primary that won’t ruin you utterly in the general. I don’t honestly believe it’s even possible unless a candidate can completely change the zeitgeist and if any of our current liberal crop of candidates can do that they are keeping it under their hat so far.

    The challenge is, oddly, steeper and yet easier for the moderate candidates. Trying to unseat Biden while also agreeing with him on a lot of policy is hard as hell. But they can hold support to keep themselves afloat and just pace Biden and hope he screws up or implodes and they can simply inherit his support while also remaining highly viable candidates for the Veep nod. I’d think Pete and Amy both are following this strategy.

    It’ll be interesting to see how viscous the winnowing is after the September debate. I’m kind of hoping it’s harsh so as to decrease the chances of a hung convention. Obama, himself, gives me hope on that measure though. Yes the Democratic primaries award delegates proportionally but the party has, in Obama, a loved former President that could weigh in once the field narrows down a lot. When was the last time such a figure was present on either side? Surely it has to have been, what, Reagan? Before my own time at least. HW Bush was a single termer; Clinton was scandal plagued, Bush Minor was a historic failure and fiasco.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

      Another good point you raise about the VP spot. This is an odd scenario in that someone could actually be vying for the VP pick hoping that Biden doesn’t opt for a second term and they become heir-apparent. For Pete, four years is a blink and he would get all of that experience in the meantime. Amy is only 59 so the same calculus would apply.

      (I was also reading this morning that Klobuchar is focusing on farm policy ahead of Iowa. Those are definitely her people out there. She’s my pick for the surprise over-performer of the caucuses).Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I really hope so because I think she’d be a fearsome candidate* in general and a good Veep and Pete has been, generally, a pretty good candidate (and I believe he’d ditch his loonier ideas in the general and in office).Report

  6. Avatar Philip H says:

    Joe Biden’s day is done. He’s unlikely to get progressives, even if he gets the nomination. His support by African Americans is actually up for gabs, if a candidate really wants it. He is unlikely to capture center-right midwesterners, as the neoliberal economics he champions left them behind – which is why so many voted twice for Obama and then for Trump.

    He’s also never been inspiring as a speaker. And while a good stump speech might seem like an anachronism int his day and age, remember that 45% of voters sat the last one out. democrats have to change that to win again, and he’s not the man to do it.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H says:

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say his day is done, but my biggest worry is that he won’t inspire turnout the way a Warren or Harris would.

      And I don’t see this election turning on crossovers or undecideds, but on mobilizing base turnout.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

      The trouble is, Biden doesn’t scare off the centrists and independents the way Warren, Sanders, or Harris would. Does anyone think the progressives are going to say “To heck with Biden, I’m voting for Trump!”? The reverse is not true, because union workers and reasonably well-off Democrats eyeballing their 401K’s are not going to vote to become Venezuela.

      The viable centrist alternatives to Biden were all those boring Democratic governors who couldn’t gain any traction in a field that was racing to the left. The view on the right is that the Democrats may have raced off a cliff, and that it might be something they won’t be able to recover from for several decades.

      There’s a weird asymmetry when you look at the parties, geography, and the positioning of their House and Senate members. In the heartland, the non-coastal areas where normal people live (as the right would put it), Democrats tend to be centrists or even somewhat conservative, because that’s the voting base in those areas. The coasts tend to be far left, as do their representatives, and the coasts remain pretty tightly locked up.

      When the Democrats go too far left they wipe out Democrats in the heartland (the Rust Belt, Midwest, etc), and that means the surviving representatives are further left than the party used to be. This makes it shift further to the left, which is what was causing the losses outside the coasts.

      That can turn into a positive feedback cycle that tries to turn the Democrats into a small regional party centered on coastal cities and college campuses, because none of the centrist Democrats are winning elections because all the Democrats in office are basically Berkeley hippies.

      Joe Biden might or might not be Trump, but at least he won’t fuel that potentially damaging trend within the party.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to George Turner says:

        A trend that’s been reversed for a while if it was even a trend at all. 2018 involved a deluge of centrist winners that the media and the right tried studiously to ignore while fixating on the four more lefty victors.

        But as trends go it’s almost completely dog bites man. Centrists always suffer the most when one party loses and the other party wins; centrists usually inhabit swing districts which are the districts that change hands. The safe districts are where the true believers dwell on both sides. True believers have trouble winning the general election in swing districts even if they have an edge in the primaries.

        Be that as it may, there’s one party that has stampeded into the fringes and who’s party members constantly are fretting about primary challenges from their wingers and that party ain’t the Democratic Party. Until that changes I’ll view stories about Dems going extreme as what they are: right wing spin or media aligned BSDI pap.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to North says:

          The right is quite unified compared to the Democrats, at least according to polling data asking people how unified their party is. The asymmetry I referred to is that the heartland, those Rust Belt battlegrounds, is a center-right battleground. It’s where Democrat centrists battle right-wing ideologues. When the Republicans lose there their party shifts left, towards the center, whereas when the Democrats lose there their party shifts left toward the fringe.

          In 2018 the fringe didn’t have AOC, Bernie, and Warren in front, and the Democrats who flipped seats were mostly centrists. The current progressive stampede might undo all that.Report

  7. Avatar PROFESSOR ESPERANTO says:

    Biden’s going to stop himself. Money elects politicians. People don’t elect politicians.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/02/us/politics/2020-democratic-fundraising.html

    Also Biden promising billionaires he’ll maintain the status quo. Biden’s constant faux pas in terms of social justice and racial issues. The only thing he can do is attack his opponents and talk about how he’s not the current President, rather than addressing issues and making committments to the American people.

    As for “Twitter bubbles”, it seems only mainstream journalists want to push Biden to the moon. Everyone else shrugs and turns towards Sanders and Warren to hear them out. What about the “journalism bubble”?Report

    • In my view the press is, if anything, understating Biden’s dominance of the race. The press wants a competitive race. Right now it’s not one. So they’re talking an awful lot about the positioning of the candidate that’s in third place versus the candidate that’s in fourth.Report

      • Avatar Brent F in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think there’s also some merit in the idea that the demographics Biden dominates tend to be heavily underrepresented in the commentariat. His candidacy somewhat mirrors Trump’s in that regard.Report

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