In my last post about the upcoming election, I argued that the democratic nominee was going to be severely underrated by the public, who perceive Donald Trump to be a uniquely difficult candidate to beat even though he sucks and only won last time through luck. Since then, a lot of weird stuff has happened. At the time, Sanders was a clear frontrunner and I assumed he would win, but the Democratic establishment rallied behind Joe Biden, who left him in the dust and claimed the nomination with a series of decisive primary wins. Then there was the whole pandemic thing followed by the current string of protests surrounding the death of George Floyd. These recent events have only strengthened my belief that Biden is very likely to win this election, and it might not even be close.
I want to be as clear as possible that this isn’t about me being optimistic. I don’t believe in optimism and rarely practice it. This is what I consider to be a sane interpretation of current data and trends. Betting markets are finally starting to agree with my hypothesis, as Biden recently became a favorite for the first time. Trump’s disapproval ratings were already high and are continuing to spike as the pandemic rages, the country is on fire, and many question his responses to both those issues. It’s also hard to see Trump regaining momentum because I don’t think Covid-19 is going away and it doesn’t seem like these protests and possible revolutions are either. I believe a lot of these fabled “swing” voters go with their gut on election day. When they go into the booth, in the middle of a pandemic that has been mismanaged, are they going to think “yeah, let’s keep things how they are. Everything is going great?” I doubt it.
Most of my belief here is due to Trump being a bad candidate who people despise. This election will be a referendum on him, and outside of his deranged cultists (which are not a large percentage of people), most see Trump for what he is and aren’t satisfied with his leadership. Biden is a trickier nut to crack, and I’ve been flummoxed by his increasing popularity despite never doing anything. The only notable thing I can recall him doing during this campaign is getting credibly accused of sexual harassment. And yet, there is the fact that he beat Sanders pretty soundly, after having zero momentum, with a lot of signs pointing to the bizarre reality that voters turned out and were legitimately excited to vote for Biden. Who are these people? I have no idea. But they clearly exist and it would be a mistake to discount them.
For full disclosure, I voted for Sanders and lean pretty far left, though I’m not as militant about it as some. I think there is room for reasonable disagreement with people and I am often not a fan of the left’s tactics, which I think are too often aggressive and condescending when the goal should be to welcome people to your cause. A lot of leftists, at least on social media, come off as oblivious to how average people think and seem more interested in proving their intellectual superiority than aiding the causes they purport to care about. I’ve been particularly amused at their behavior since Biden won the nomination. It was a clear repudiation of Sanders that should have been cause for some reflection on how the movement should move forward and welcome a wider range of voters, but instead most have just moved on to attacking Biden and insisting he has no chance to win because he’s a “bad candidate” like Hillary was.
It’s not like I’m a Biden fan (far from it), but anyone in touch with reality should be able to see the results for what they are. Once the establishment rallied behind him, he destroyed Sanders and even won states he wasn’t supposed to be competitive in. And now he’s leading Trump in every single poll I look at (sometimes by fairly huge margins) and is a betting favorite to win the presidency. These are not the results of a horrible candidate who can’t possibly win, unless you’re in an echo chamber and think the entire country reflects your views despite all evidence to the contrary.
Biden’s strategy right now seems to be to sit back and do nothing while Trump clowns around and gets more and more unpopular until people are desperate for an alternative. It’s kind of a genius play. It’s not like Joe Biden can say much at this point to look great to anyone not sold on him, especially given his difficulty forming coherent thoughts, but he can create an aura of competence while Trump continues to be a giant idiot. It’s sort of like how football fans fantasize about how good their unproven backup quarterback is because they haven’t seen him go on the field and throw an interception yet. By the time the election rolls around, Trump would probably be an underdog to a Jared Fogle/Charles Manson ticket, and there’s a distinct possibility Biden coasts to the presidency while doing practically nothing.