Friday, April 19, 2024

Are Democrats In Abandon-Ship Mode On Biden?

To say that they are is to say that a replacement is imminent. As I’ve written here and elsewhere, that isn’t in evidence – yet.

But we’re getting closer, it seems, because there really is no way to fix this ruptured duck of a presidency.

A Twitter thread by 538’s Nate Silver is a good indication of what the professional elections-handicapping class believes at present…

The piece that silver links to at his site contains some rather dire warnings for Team Biden…

  • First, president’s approval ratings do have some meaningful predictive power at this stage as compared with a year ago. And with the general election matchup all but locked in, Biden’s head-to-head polls against Trump provide some meaningful signal, too. So it’s no longer safe to ignore that Biden has consistently trailed Trump in polls both nationally and (more importantly) in swing states. Or that Biden’s approval rating is just 39 percent and shows no signs of improvement, well below the threshold that would ordinarily make a president a favorite for re-election.
  • Second, to borrow the poker term, Biden no longer has as many “outs” — meaning, contingencies that could improve his situation:
    • In the Republican nomination process, Trump is probably going to win all 50 states; he hasn’t gotten bruised up or exposed new fissures within the GOP base.
    • Trump’s various criminal trials are (perhaps predictably) facing delays and the Georgia one is a mess, fairly or not, because of an alleged improper romantic relationship between Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and another member of the prosecution team. Yes, Democrats still have some upside if Trump is eventually convicted of something. But so far Trump’s favorability ratings have only improved.
    • And the economy? Well, it has gotten better and both consumer and investor moods have turned more optimistic. I’ve argued there was never really a gap between economic reality and economic perception in the first place, but if there was, it’s pretty much gone now. And yet Biden’s standing has not improved. On balance, that ought to be a concerning fact for the White House. It implies that Biden’s poor position is not the result of something fixable (the economy) but rather something that very much isn’t — the fact that he’s 81 and getting older every day.
  • Third, yes, it’s become even clearer that Biden’s age is an enormous problem for him. As many as 86 percent of Americans say he’s too old in one poll, though numbers in the 70-to-75 percent range are more common — still an overwhelming majority in a bitterly-divided country. There’s also been recent bad news for Biden on this front. In the past couple of weeks:
    • A special counsel report characterized Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”;
    • In response to the special counsel report, Biden conducted an impromptu press conference in which, defending himself against allegations of memory loss, he confused the names of the leaders of Egypt and Mexico and was defiant with reporters in a way that — yes, this latter part is subjective — I doubt many impartial observers would say came across well.
    • Biden also declined to do a Super Bowl interview that might have allayed public concerns1 — something that President Obama did all eight years in office, Trump did three times, and Biden did in 2021. The White House skipped the interview last year when the Super Bowl was carried by Fox, part of a general pattern of Biden avoiding Fox News. But with the game on CBS this year, there were no such excuses.

Those all seem like highly reasonable points, particularly in light of the fact Biden has ceased to be engaged on any major area of policy or politics at this point.

For example, the border is the single most galvanizing issue in American politics and Joe Biden’s position on it has no actual defense. Not just from Republican attacks, but from his own people, and in particular the big city mayors whose budgets and political credibility are bleeding out as resources flow to illegals rather than their own underserved citizens.

It’s a case of serious political malpractice that Biden isn’t busily trying to broker a deal between the House and Senate to create a truly bipartisan border policy. Given the Democrats’ long view, which is to use the broken border and the resulting Third World invasion to change the demographics of the country in ways they believe will create a permanent political majority for them, it’s understandable that doing nothing as 10 million illegals crash that border is an appropriate move over the long haul. The problem is that as many as three quarters of Americans, including large majorities of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, racial and ethnic groups Democrats count on, totally disagree that it’s OK to let in every migrant who wants to come here and latch on to the welfare system.

You’re going to lose an election big-time based on the border alone. You have to do something. And getting Mitch McConnell to sign on to a legislative package that gives the border short shrift while shoveling some $60 billion to Ukraine, when everyone knows that money will get laundered back to our own ruling class, is not going to move the needle.

A lucid Joe Biden who was actually in charge of his own administration would have already seen this coming and taken steps to make the public believe he was working the problem even if no deal could be made. Instead, he’s adrift.

He’s adrift on Ukraine, because he isn’t capable of laying out a clear strategy for victory, what it’s going to take to get there, why those steps are in our interest and what his overall policy toward Russia and Eastern Europe is. Therefore, whether it’s even possible for those things to be laid out in a convincing way or not, none of it is happening and the public increasingly says no to more Ukraine aid. That team biden was almost giddy over the death, in a Russian prison, of dissident leader Alexei Navalny as to that event’s effect on getting out that aid shows you just how far gone they are with respect to winning a clean fight on Ukraine funding.

He can’t sell Bidenomics, not just because it’s a failure but because he’s not lucid enough to speak clearly on economics.

They didn’t put him forth for a Super Bowl interview, because he can’t handle a one-on-one interview with anything other than softball questions. He hasn’t done a one-on-one interview since October. As Silver notes, when you’re the incumbent and the election is a referendum on your leadership, you can’t not show any.

But this seems to be the strategy. Is it working?

Well, here’s RealClear Politics’ current summation of polling averages overall and in swing states…

It’s safe to say those are not winning numbers. Those are catastrophic numbers. When you consider that the swing-state polling averages are two-way numbers rather than including third-party candidates who mostly pull from Biden, what you realize is that if the election were to be decided today Biden wouldn’t win any of those six states, and he’s going to be far enough behind that no amount of ballot-harvesting or other irregular tactics would save him.

And as Silver says, it isn’t in evidence that Biden has any upside. He’s a demented, tired old man who no longer has anything to offer to his party or the American people, and he’s now a drag on an already lousy ticket based on the public’s understanding of Democrat governance and the results it brings.

All of it is bad.

Their problem is that the bench is no better…

Now, some of the catastrophic numbers for Gavin Newsom and Gretchen Whitmer reflect low name ID. On the other hand, who doesn’t know Newsom?

But what those numbers say is that Silver might be right when he says the Democrats have no upside with Biden – but he could well be wrong when he suggests that changing him out might fix their problems. Because if the Emerson College numbers are correct, one interpretation could be not that the name ID is lacking on Newsom and Whitmer but rather that the public associates them with left-wing psychosis and COVID tyranny, and the public finds them a lot more loathsome than Biden.

If that’s true it’s an existential problem for the Democrat Party. It indicates that this could be the groundswell election that 2022 should have been.

Then again, we are talking about the Republican Party winning a wave election at the national level, and the GOP hasn’t been capable of executing such a victory in 20 years or more.

So we’ll hold off predicting much other than that Democrats are going to continue freaking out about Biden’s chances of winning until either he isn’t the candidate or something very strange happens. And maybe the freaking out, in that context, is a good thing.