Joe Biden Being Joe Biden is Hurting Joe Biden

The 76-year-old Democratic frontrunner's penchant for gaffes is raising questions about his fitness to govern.

Joe Biden has committed a series of embarrassing verbal miscues in recent days. That’s nothing new. But, at his advanced age, it’s seen by some as less lovable than it used to be.

Many advisers and donors to Joseph R. Biden Jr. were elated last Wednesday as he delivered one of the best-reviewed speeches of his 2020 campaign, using prepared remarks on a Teleprompter to accuse President Trump of encouraging white supremacy and to frame the next election in sweeping moral terms about the future of the country.

Their jubilation didn’t last long.

The next day, Mr. Biden made a gaffe saying “poor kids” were as bright and talented as “white kids” before correcting himself — a remark that sent his staff scrambling. Then on Saturday, he said that as vice president he met with students who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., when in fact that shooting had not occurred when he was in office.

Indeed, in the span of less than a week, he also briefly mixed up where the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, gun massacres took place; invoked former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain when he apparently meant to say Theresa May; and fumbled an oft-repeated campaign line while at the Iowa State Fair.

While his advisers dismissed the individual remarks as minor miscues that Mr. Biden mostly amended quickly, the slip-ups have become part of a pattern — a strong campaign trail moment, followed by a blunder that dominates the news coverage — that has been enormously frustrating to them and, some Democratic allies say, to Mr. Biden himself.

Katie Glueck and Jonathan Martin, New York Times, “Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing

Granting that he does a whole lot of public speaking, that’s an absurd number of gaffes. And the poor/white and Thatcher/May miscues are of the Kinsley Gaffe variety, wherein a politician accidentally says something he really means. Still, it’s vintage Joe Biden.

Mr. Biden has a long history of verbal flubs and gaffes, so much so that he is comfortable making light of these self-inflicted errors. But he is also a proud man who has often talked about his own brand of speaking plainly and off-the-cuff. In recent weeks, he has expressed frustration to allies that his candidacy will suffer if he is judged too harshly on the slip-ups, which he thinks he can do little to correct so long as he is being true to himself.

Some of his advisers said in interviews that they were privately nervous that his recent gaffe spree would become cemented into the larger narrative of the presidential race. They also say that Mr. Biden faces an unfair double standard.

I’m skeptical of that. After all, Kamala Harris was dogged for several days for seemingly misremembering which songs were on the radio while she smoked marijuana as a college student. (In reality, her interviewers had two conversations going and she switched streams.) Absurd scrutiny for minor slip-ups is simply part of the crucible, particularly in the early stages of campaigns when very little real news is being made.

Yet there is a real political risk for Mr. Biden. Some party activists have already been worried that, at 76, he may be too old to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Trump, who is 73, and win. If the accumulation of verbal missteps continues, some Democrats say, it will eventually sow doubts about what many primary voters believe is Mr. Biden’s biggest strength: that he is best positioned to beat Mr. Trump.

In this very early going, Biden is my favorite of the Democratic candidates—one of whom I will almost certainly vote for next November. But his penchant for embarrassing himself strikes me as a perfectly legitimate concern for those of us who want someone other than Trump to win that election.

Even his staunchest supporters are worried.

“I have to say, he just doesn’t seem to have his heart in it or the energy for the slog this time,” said Chris Henning, the chairwoman of the Greene County Democratic Party in Iowa, who caucused for Mr. Biden when he ran for president in 2008 and is uncommitted this cycle.

Mr. Biden’s campaign advisers and allies insist that Mr. Biden is as physically and mentally sharp as ever. They plan to implicitly knock down any suggestion that his gaffes reveal a candidate past his prime by suggesting that his cringe-inducing comments are nothing new and that voters are already used to his propensity for misspeaking.

“Joe Biden has spoken his mind his entire life, which voters know and love about him,” said Kate Bedingfield, Mr. Biden’s communications director and deputy campaign manager. “He’s a real person, he’s authentic and that will never change.”

The Rev. Joseph Darby of South Carolina, who considers Mr. Biden a longtime friend, was blunter as he emphasized that “Joe’s always been gaffe-prone — it’s just a piece of who he is.”

This gets complicated. 76-year-old Joe Biden doing what 45-year-old Joe Biden did is not evidence that Joe Biden is too old. Still, Joe Biden is too old. The notion that any person, at 76, is as sharp mentally, let alone physically, as they were in their youth is absurd. Hell, I’m 53 and don’t have the mental or physical energy I did ten, much less 20, years ago.

And the notion that you’re either a “real person” who “speaks his mind” or manage to get through most days without committing stupid and embarrassing gaffes is laughable. If anything, the fact that Biden says things like “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” when he goes off-script is an indication that he’s being unintentionally honest there rather than speaking in code. Indeed, I think he’d be better off just owning it: “Look, I know I’m not supposed to say that black kids are doing worse than white kids in school. I’m supposed to use code words about economic circumstance. But we all know the deal. There’s a four-hundred year history . . . .”

One tack that’s not going to work, though, is this one:

“He made a bunch of them last week but I don’t think it affects his capacity to govern,” added Mr. Darby, who for professional reasons has not endorsed a candidate but expressed a view shared by many Biden supporters. “He is as sharp as he’s been. You’re running against Donald Trump, for chrissake. Donald Trump has had his own share of gaffes, numerous gaffes, on top of falsehoods, on top of bigoted insults.”

Like it or not, Trump is sui generis. No American politician in modern history could have gotten away with a tenth of the gaffes and scandals that Trump has. His strongest supporters find it endearing and the rest are willing to tolerate pretty much anything so long as they get tax cuts, conservative judges, and white nationalism. And those who aren’t committed anti-Trump voters by this point aren’t going to be. So, any Democratic nominee is going to be judged on their own merits, not against a Trump baseline.

At the end of the day, the incredibly long campaign gauntlet will sort this out. The Democratic nominating electorate has several months yet to decide between Biden and the umpteen not-Bidens on offer. Right now, Biden is my default position but I could see myself voting for Pete Buttigieg or another relative moderate if they’re still viable March 3, when Virginia’s primary is held. If he’s the nominee, there’s no amount of gaffes he could commit to keep me from voting for him in November if Trump is the alternative.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. On some level, I think Biden’s gaffes end up being part of his charm. It’s something we’ve all become used to and kind of baked in the cake as far as he’s concerned. Additionally, Biden continues to be the Democrat that is perceived as having the best chance of beating Trump in November 2020. As long as that remains the case, I don’t think these gaffes will be that big an issue going forward.

    Additionally, we are still more than 170 days before the Iowa Caucuses. Somehow I doubt people are going to remember much about what happened in the summer of 2019 when it comes time to pick a Democratic nominee.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Additionally, we are still more than 170 days before the Iowa Caucuses. Somehow I doubt people are going to remember much about what happened in the summer of 2019 when it comes time to pick a Democratic nominee.

    But 170 more days of gaffes is likely to leave an impression. Joe being Joe, maybe that’s why his last 2 runs for president didn’t turn out so well.

  3. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Obviously the closer we get to voting the more things like this might matter. At the same time, though, we’re talking about an era where Donald Trump is President and he gets away with outright lies on the campaign trail so who knows?

    As I said, Biden is benefiting from the perception, which I think is largely true, that he is the Democrat best able to take on Trump in a General Election. As long as that perception exists, I think Democratic voters will forgive the occasional gaffe

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    we’re talking about an era where Donald Trump is President and he gets away with outright lies on the campaign trail so who knows?

    What works for trump in the GOP won’t work for anyone in the DEM party. As far as Joe goes, I like him but his age is a factor and the longer this primary run goes on it becomes even more of a factor. Among the DEMs I know, his age comes up frequently and the gaffes, rightly or not, bring more focus to it. I don’t think that issue is going to age well.

  5. Teve says:

    Joe’s lead in the polls is based on his perception of being the strongest candidate which is based on his lead in the polls, which is based on the perception…

    it’s a house of cards, and his mediocrity as a candidate will slowly sink him over the next five months. Warren will be the nominee.

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  6. Jen says:

    There are too many other people running in the Dem primary for this to become a pattern for Biden. He needs to sharpen up, quickly, or his numbers will start to slip.

    Biden making these gaffes and Sanders wandering around the IA State Fair without really talking to anyone makes both of them look old and disconnected.

    With Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg out there (Buttigieg is within 1 pt. of Sanders in a recent IA poll and TV commenters are still referring to it as a 4-way race/eyeroll), the two with the name ID have the most to lose.

  7. KM says:

    @Doug Mataconis :

    As I said, Biden is benefiting from the perception, which I think is largely true, that he is the Democrat best able to take on Trump in a General Election.

    Kinda like being a Kardashian, isn’t it – being famous for being famous? Nobody has ever spelled out exactly WHY they think he’s the best and that’s kinda telling. I want someone to tell me – in detail – why I should vote for Joe and how it will benefit me. This is the primary so that’s kinda his job. I really don’t like Biden fans re-enacting Animal Farm and pulling a Squealer every time I ask this question. “Oh, he’s our best shot. Do you want Trump to come back or not? Vote Biden!”

    TELL me. SHOW me. EXPLAIN it to me. But don’t hand me circular logic and a candidate that can’t go a week without sticking his foot in his mouth. Without his name recognition, he would be on par with Marianne Williamson in terms of viability. The man is coasting and I really don’t like what that implies for the 2020 race.

    On some level, I think Biden’s gaffes end up being part of his charm

    During the Obama years, he gained meme status as Cool Ole’ Joe, the elderly uncle or grandfather you want to hang with. You know, he’s says weird or cringeworthy things every now and again but damn, he’s fun. Now that he’s running on his own, he’s still that elderly man but without Obama to provide the fun. So he’s just the guy saying eyebrow raising things every other day and you start to get the impression he’s not all there….. which is completely what you want for a presidential candidate, of course.

    He has “charm” to the older set who’s prone to doing things like this. He’s “like them”. To folks my age and younger? We just keep hearing questionable statement after statement from a mediocre candidate. If what he said came out of Trump’s mouth, we’d be outraged. Why’s it OK that the Dem front-runner says it?

    My bet is he ends up VP again. He did fine there and can help clean up the role after Pence is gone.

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  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    That Biden gaffed his way through the 88 and 08 campaigns, which he lost, won’t provide cover for him in 2020. Today’s gaffes play right into the Repug talking points of “Old Joe.” Add to that his backwards looking candidacy and there is little reason for the marginally engaged voter to make an effort to go vote for him in November.

    In 88, Biden was considered one of the favorites to emerge with the nomination, but the gaffes and the plagiarism scandal left him sputtering on the side of the trail. In 08 his campaign was considered a joke and not taken seriously. Today he is surviving on name recognition and dewy remembrances of the Obama years.

    Let me make a prediction, Warren will win the Iowa caucuses and to go further out on a limb, Biden will finish no better that fourth.

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Forget the gaffes…I’ve been saying all along he’s an old guy with old ideas who has lost a step.
    I love Joe.
    Think he’s the best VP we may have ever had.
    But enough.

  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    The appeal of Biden is that he’s familiar and moderate. There will be no big surprises, no big veer to the left by him. This makes him more attractive to a slice of voter that doesn’t like Trump, but is afraid of slogans like “Medicare for all” because they believe it means they will pay more taxes. It looks like this slice is maybe 4-5% of the electorate. Gaffes are not really going to change their mind, I don’t think.

    I get that for many of us, it’s hard to get into that mindset, but it does exist.

  11. KM says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The appeal of Biden is that he’s familiar and moderate.

    Actually, he’s not advocating “moderate” so much as he’s advocating “return to status quo”.

    I’ve jokingly called him the Calm Down Candidate to my friends. He’s like the parent who just wants the kid’s squabble and noise to stop so he scolds everyone for being disruptive and “why can’t you all behave”? He doesn’t really care who caused it or addressing why the fight happened. He just wants it to stop and go back to peace and quiet. Nevermind whatever caused the fight will still be present and lead to another fight later on – what’s important is maintaining the atmosphere of family functionality and quiet.

    I like Biden but the world he’s living in is years out of date. He keeps talking about how things used to be without acknowledging that those folks were stabbing him in the back then and will stab him in face now. Trumpkins aren’t going to magically stop believing in MAGA on Nov 4, nor are they going to stop pushing for their damaging policies. They’re not going to stop screwing with the environment, the poor, immigrants, minorities or anything else on their list just because he might be President. We have some serious issues the current Administration has either caused or made worse and that can can’t get kicked much further.

  12. Tyrell says:

    I don’t understand the uproar over his latest statement. His wording might have been “low income schools” compared to “high income schools”. I think most people know what he was trying to say. That could have set up a good discussion about school performance and perceived impressions. There are many low income schools that are high performing. How does that happen?
    High expectations and accountability of parents, students, and staff.
    There is site based management: decisions are made at the school level by the staff and the parents, not by some bureaucrats who have little or no experience in the classroom.
    There is an atmosphere and expectation of excellence.
    They do not jump from one education fad to another.
    (“Best 50”)

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  13. KM says:

    @Tyrell :

    I think most people know what he was trying to say.

    But that’s not what he actually SAID.

    Slips of the tongue are interesting things – they reveal much for being “mistakes”. Maybe it’s aphasia, maybe it’s your brain twenty steps ahead in the speech and you leave out whole sentences. It happens, you know? Maybe your mind’s drifting and what comes out is a little more uncensored then what you meant to say. After all, poor children in urban areas tend to be minorities and they are just as smart as other children… who happen to be white and/or wealthier. I’m not faulting him for correctly asserting that children, regardless of their color or wealth status, are as smart as their cohort. I even think if he had gotten it out correctly it would be fine notion to treat all children as equal and worthy. I’m faulting him for using those particular demarcations to group children – one group gets defined by color and other by economic status. Guess which got which?

    Unintentional honesty on multiple levels. Most people know what he meant to say, indeed.

  14. Gromitt Gunn says:

    A majority of my friends who are POC have made it clear that they are judging their white ‘friends’ on the basis of how they respond to the “white kids versus poor kids” comment. It isn’t just a gaffe to them (or to me).

  15. Kylopod says:

    I want someone to tell me – in detail – why I should vote for Joe and how it will benefit me.

    The argument I hear from Joe-Bros is that he stands the best chance of bringing back the Rust Belt voters who fled to the GOP in 2016, due to his blue-collar roots as a Scranton boy. It’s also said that he’s popular with African Americans, who see him as Obama’s standard-bearer. And, yes, they argue that a moderate like Biden stands a better chance of appealing to swing voters in the middle who will be turned off by the left-wing advocacy of candidates like Sanders and Warren.

    He also currently does better in head-to-head matchups against Trump than his rivals. It’s funny to hear this point coming from many of the same people who dismissed this type of argumentation in 2016.

    I’m not saying I agree with any of this. But it’s what I’ve been hearing, again and again.

    What’s striking to me about Biden fans is that they’re so addicted to the image they have of him that they’re blinded to his flaws. I’d have reservations about him if he were 20 years younger. His last two presidential runs were not impressive. But watching him now, at the recent debates, has made me begin to seriously wonder if his age is catching up with him. Bernie is older than him, and indeed I have reservations about Bernie for that very reason too. I even have reservations about Warren, my favorite candidate right now. If I had to choose my own custom-built candidate, it would no doubt be someone in the 45-65 range. But people age at different rates, and I feel Biden is not as “there” as he once was. I watched it happen to my grandparents. I think his fans are in a state of willful self-deception. Whatever strong qualities he may bring to the table (and I have my doubts even there), I believe it’s absolutely essential that the nominee be someone who is, at bare minimum, alert enough to take on Trump. This isn’t a child’s game. We aren’t in the days of Eisenhower, he can’t just sit back and coast to victory. Yet I get the sense that that’s exactly what Biden’s defenders expect will happen.

  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kylopod: Actually, I say never mind the Rust Belt, Joe is beating Trump in Texas. You know, that state with 34 electoral votes. The state where Beto came within three points of Ted Cruz, who is considerably more popular in Texas than Trump is.

    Seriously, I think Texas is in play. I’d like to think Warren has a shot there, since she’s from OK, but they have to get used to her, and maybe be less afraid of what she might do.

  17. Kit says:

    I want someone to tell me – in detail – just what he expects Joe to accomplish. Based on where you think we are, and where you think we need to be, is Joe the man to lead the way?

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The 76-year-old Democratic frontrunner’s penchant for gaffes is raising questions about his fitness to govern.

    As well it should; it’s not like this is new or anything.

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I’m concerned for your party if the real choices available are Biden and Warren, who’s only 6 years younger and has a whole set of different gaffes.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: “because they believe it means they will pay more taxes.”

    It’s not Medicare for All that means “[we] will pay more taxes;” the problem is that we’ve either got to pay more taxes, cut a trillion or so (~ 25% IIRC) out of a budget for which Congress lacks the resolve to cut, or kick the can down to the Millennials–who already are statistically unlikely to live as well as their parents and who, contrary to common opinion, are not buying cars and houses because their lifestyle is more evolved but because they lack the resources to do it.

    Guess which one we’re gonna pick, Jay?

  21. Just nutha ignint crackerf says:

    @Tyrell: I actually empathize with you for a change, Tyrell. I get what you’re saying: where you live (and this probably includes most of Trump America–perceptually at least–and a significant portion of “real” America, too) “poor” and “black” are the same thing. That was true when I was growing up in Seattle in the 50s and 60s, too. Even there, black poverty was different–quantitatively and qualitatively–from white poverty and we white kids thought even the middle class black kids were “poor.”

    But it’s still something that Biden can’t get away with saying. It makes him look like the same Delaware cracker he was when he basically said that Obama had an advantage over other blacks because he cleaned up well (and yes, I realize that wasn’t what he said–it’s the only thing that would have been worse, though).

  22. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Well, I think the sensible ones realize we can’t go on this way, and that the tax cut A) wasn’t that great for them, and B) will have to be rolled back, but it won’t hurt that much (see A), and this will do a lot to reduce the deficit. They are more afraid of “and then” taxes.

    Remember, we’re talking about a cadre that’s about 5 percent of the electorate, and they are generally college-educated.

  23. KM says:

    @KM:

    they argue that a moderate like Biden stands a better chance of appealing to swing voters in the middle who will be turned off by the left-wing advocacy of candidates like Sanders and Warren.

    Whenever I hear this tripe, I point out the choice is going to be Donald $^#%^^*%$ Trump or somebody like Warren. Not even Trump in 2016 when you could pretend he wasn’t trash because “he could be Presidential”, Trump with all his baggage. If they *still* hesitate because Warren’s “too radical”, they were never a swing voter in the first place. They’re a Republican that’s pissed you’re not offering them a second Republican choice.

    They wanted the Dems to run a Republican-lite because the GOP wasn’t ballsy enough to primary a sitting President. That’s not a “moderate” and no Dem is going to meet that standard. Biden isn’t going to swing them because he’s not a Republican. Anyone unsure if Trump can count on their vote is still thinking Trump is an option. It’s freaking fantasy to think someone who looks at Orange Julius and goes “hmmm, I can vote for that even after everything that’s happened” will accept a Dem even if it’s Biden. We keep hearing “drift towards the center” because it’s closer to what they want and away from our own principles. They want Dems to stop being Dems and be GOP Jr so they don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of voting for Trump again. That’s why Warren and the others are “radical” – they refuse to not be liberal.

  24. Gustopher says:

    I think Biden would do well to adopt “America needs a caretaker president” as a campaign slogan.

    Make the fact that he’s out of step with the base of the party a feature of his campaign, rather than a liability.

    I’d rather have an unabashed progressive as President than Biden. But I’m not sure Anerica would rather have an unabashed progressive as President rather than Donald Trump.

    Just make it a clear, explicit choice. Biden is amazingly Vice Presidential — likable, goofy, and capable of taking the reigns of the Presidency in an emergency.

  25. Jen says:

    @KM:

    Every time I hear something like this:

    they argue that a moderate like Biden stands a better chance of appealing to swing voters in the middle who will be turned off by the left-wing advocacy of candidates like Sanders and Warren.

    …I wonder if the person is factoring in that this is exactly what would cause younger/more progressive voters to *not* bother voting. People making this type of argument are assuming that the margins will be found in changing Trump voters to Dem X voters. That’s not the case at all. Slightly increasing younger voter turnout, or black voter turnout, etc. could provide a winning margin depending on the state.

  26. David S. says:

    Biden is and remains a second-to-last resort for me. That’s been the case since before he announced his candidacy. (The only viable candidate I like less is Sanders.)

    I agree with the other commenters that the essential part of his appeal is how he stands in relation to everyone else in the field, from Sanders to Trump, in that he’s “government as a boringly benign grandpa”: competent enough to fill the role with no interest in upsetting any apple carts. And if that’s what we end up with, I’ll take it, but I just don’t think that’s good enough anymore.

    The thing is… he doesn’t feel like he’s interested in fixing what Trump has done. He feels like he’s only interested in staunching the bleeding. And yeah, the next POTUS is going to have their hands full with that, but without some sort of vision, I don’t think that’s enough. I’m not a fan of Warren, but at least she wants to improve things. Things just aren’t good enough. Things are crumbling.

    The best outcome for Biden is if he’s able to genuinely adopt some of the ideas the others are pushing. He doesn’t have the time to become as much of an expert, but he can agree to pull in their ideas and be receptive and encouraging to real proposals along the same lines while in office.

  27. Hal_10000 says:

    @Teve:

    Warren will be the nominee.

    Then I hope you guys enjoy the next four years of Trump. Warren’s candidacy is propped up by a worshipful media and progressive wing. If you try to run on a platform like the one she’s flogging, people will stampede back to Trump.

    I think people vastly overestimate the importance of horse race stuff. Organization means a lot more than Biden occasionally saying the wrong thing. And he’ll be debating someone who frequently exits a different sentence than the one he entered.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: As I see the world at this particular moment, the problem is that Dems don’t look like they are going to resolve around either a “mmoderate” or a “progressive.” A lot can happen in a year and something, but at the moment, it looks like “if I can’t have what I want, I can always vote third party,” and we all saw how that worked out.

    Here’s hoping that I’m too cynical.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @Teve:

    Warren will be the nominee.

    I think that’s likely, and it makes me wonder which Americans want more: single payer health care or white supremacy?

    In a country this large, there’s bound to be a Neo-Nazi who really believes that the Nazis were socialists, as the far right claims, and embraced that. And he (and it’s definitely a he), is going to be so confused.

    I just hope The NY Times finds him on a Cletus Safari and profiles his thought process.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    A majority of my friends who are POC have made it clear that they are judging their white ‘friends’ on the basis of how they respond to the “white kids versus poor kids” comment. It isn’t just a gaffe to them (or to me).

    So perhaps this will put a dent in his incredible support among black voters?

    …I wonder if the person is factoring in that this is exactly what would cause younger/more progressive voters to *not* bother voting. People making this type of argument are assuming that the margins will be found in changing Trump voters to Dem X voters. That’s not the case at all. Slightly increasing younger voter turnout, or black voter turnout, etc. could provide a winning margin depending on the state.

    Then I hope you guys enjoy the next four years of Trump. Warren’s candidacy is propped up by a worshipful media and progressive wing. If you try to run on a platform like the one she’s flogging, people will stampede back to Trump.

    The question is, which one of these two statements is more accurate…

  31. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jen: Only that Sanders, Warren, Buttigeg…or any of the other Liberal White hopes can turn out Black or Hispanic voters to make up for the White men, married white women, and POC that will be voting for Trump again.

  32. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Once again, the white liberals demonstrate they don’t understand the media environment that currently exists. Gotcha “gaffes” are so 2000 ‘aughts. No one….repeat no one outside of older democrat politicos is factoring that into the calculus for how they’ll vote or who they’ll support. It’s all about how a candidate makes the voter feel. Gaffes will not sink Biden. He’ll have to be beaten and there no one in the field with both the Personality AND sane messaging to do it.

    Biden makes people feel good, he’s obviously qualified, and 90% of the horse race criteria have NOTHING to do with the qualities needed to build a strategy to execute national and domestic policy as President. Gotcha news coverage is exactly why the pool of talent that wants to be in Politics is small.

    Trump is still on course to be reelected because the retard wing of the Democratic is having a “hold my beer” moment after watching the retard leader of the Republican party own them in the media cycle for 2+ years.

    Seriously, the casual dem leaning voter is not going to be motivated to get off the couch simply because Trumps a racist, and because they think private health insurance needs to abolished. Reparations and bussing? I’m sure lines will be around the corner to vote for that.

    Most Americans hate cable news and don’t trust any of its messaging. There is a keen sense that the media is nothing but a tool used by the rich and powerful to attack threatening people. It’s precisely the reason why Trumps base clings closer the more bad press he gets. It’s also the reason why Biden’s gaffe coverage will have no effect on his polling.

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  33. EddieInCA says:

    @Teve:

    Warren will be the nominee.

    Guaranteeing that Trump wins reelection.

  34. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Warren will be the nominee.

    Guaranteeing that Trump wins reelection.

    What you just said about Warren–that nominating her would guarantee victory for the other side–has been said, more or less, about almost every winning presidential candidate in the past 40 years.

    It was said about Trump. It was said about Obama. It was said about Bill Clinton. It was said about Reagan.

    All those candidates were widely considered major electoral risks–for different reasons–at the time they rose to the nomination.

    On the other hand, you want examples of “safe” candidates? There are several. Bob Dole. Al Gore. John Kerry. Mitt Romney. Hillary Clinton.

    I’m not implying that “safe” candidates are destined to lose or that “risky” candidates are destined to win (especially given that two of the above candidates won the popular vote, and one of them basically won the election in every meaningful sense other than that he wasn’t the one in the White House in the end). Indeed, part of my point is that candidates matter less to election outcomes than you are suggesting. For instance, if there’s a recession by next year, it’s over: Trump is toast. Any of the Dems would beat him. I have a higher opinion of Warren than you do, but even if I thought she was a weak candidate I would not think she was “guaranteed” to lose. Hillary was a weak candidate and even she came within a hair of beating Trump, and even that required a perfect storm (Russian interference, voter suppression, the Comey letter, and a Democratic Party and national media that did not take Trump seriously enough to encourage voters to get off their asses and vote). Unless you think Warren is going to be even more disastrous than a candidate who was literally the subject of an FBI investigation during the campaign and who had the worst favorability ratings ever recorded for a Democratic nominee, there’s little reason to believe she would “guarantee” Trump’s reelection.

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  35. Jen says:

    That is possible, you realize @Jim Brown 32: , right?

    People tend to make assumptions about the electorate, but the worst one of all is that it’s static from general election to general election.

    If there’s one thing I learned while working in politics it’s that there are myriad–and unpredictable–factors that can change who votes and who chooses not to. In no particular order:

    > General elections are every 4 years. About 2.8 million people die every year (Source). Of course, not all of those are registered voters, but some are. (And please, no more tired jokes about Chicago on this…)
    > Similarly, each year people turn 18 and are thus qualified to vote. Again, not all will.
    > People become new citizens and are now qualified to vote.
    > Weather events can have a profound local effect on turnout.
    > News events, particularly highly publicized ones, can have an impact not just on turnout but on *how* people vote.
    > State and local issues can impact voter turnout.

    That’s just a handful of ones off the top of my head. So right off the bat, just with deaths and newly qualified voters, you have a different electorate.

    Now add in the fact that some people who voted for Trump last time won’t vote for him this time. He is losing ground in suburbs. Some farmers won’t vote for him this time around, etc.

    Then, take a look at the other side of the equation, Candidate Dem TBD. There are people who voted for Clinton last time who will not vote for the Democratic candidate this time. It’s unlikely to be a high number, but it’s a virtual certainty that there won’t be a perfect 1:1 ratio.

    However, Clinton under-performed with a few key groups. If those groups turn out this time, it certainly could impact the election.

    This is the type of thinking that goes into voter maps and strategy. No decent political strategist assumes that the weather is going to be perfect and that everyone who identifies with a party will vote consistently with that party–it’s far messier than that.

  36. Teve says:

    I think that’s likely, and it makes me wonder which Americans want more: single payer health care or white supremacy?

    looks like only about 42% of Americans want white supremacy. If I had to bet, I’d bet on Warren, but if enough dumbasses keep MoscowMitch in charge of the Senate it’ll be the end of America.

  37. Tevw says:

    @EddieInCA: Nuh-uh. There aren’t enough tards to reelect Trump.

  38. Teve says:

    @Teve: the GOP relies on dumb suckers to believe global warming isn’t real and if we give all the money to rich people that will somehow help us. Are there enough dumbasses that we won’t recover? I have no idea.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    …but if enough dumbasses keep MoscowMitch in charge of the Senate it’ll be the end of America.

    I’ve been thinking about that–if a Dem wins the White House but the Dems lose the Senate…I wonder how bold that new president will be with just issuing executive orders to get what he/she wants, and how successful the GOP will be in stopping that…