Election Update: Joe Biden is Going to Win, but Let’s All Vote For Him Anyways

It’s been another normal few weeks in this presidential campaign, starting with the exhilarating first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. In front of a captivated audience of millions, the two put on a clinic of political maneuvering and gamesmanship that us politics obsessives (or “wonks,” as I often refer to myself) will remember fondly for years. It was a privilege to watch the two most qualified people for president make beautiful music with each other, and as I watched each persuasively make their case for the office, I couldn’t help but feel like I missed an opportunity by not pursuing a career in politics. “This,” I thought, “is something I want to be a part of.” It was impossible to watch and not feel a deep sense of pride in our country, and watching the debate made me want to give back, which is why I’m writing this insightful politics post.

The so-called experts on CNN afterwards called it a “shitshow” and “a dumpster fire inside of a trainwreck,” but don’t listen to them. They are just unqualified talking heads who don’t understand the intricacies of high-level politics like Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and I do. While the debate was received poorly by those ignoramuses, I suspect in the future those same people will celebrate it as a landmark moment in politics, similar to Radiohead’s initially misunderstood classic album Kid A (which coincidentally just had its 20th anniversary, something I wish more people were writing about).

Unfortunately, after his inspiring debate performance, our president contracted COVID-19 somehow, news that got me in such a state of despair that I had to listen to songs like “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang and “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas to try to salvage my mood. And yes, I’ll admit that during this time, I may have done some research into the expected fatality rate of people in Trump’s age group, but it was solely out of curiosity. I would never wish for our president to die because that just isn’t the kind of person I am.

Our beloved leader continues to trail by a large margin in the polls, a deficit that only increased after his avant-garde debate performance apparently turned off many voters. This is in line with my original prognostication and argument, which is that Trump, contrary to public opinion (at least at the time) is actually a comically easy candidate to beat. This is a president whose polling numbers decreased after he contracted a deadly virus. That’s the level he’s working at. When the leader of this country had a potentially fatal illness, the reaction of the majority of Americans was “yeah, he probably deserves to die.” I haven’t researched this fully, but I can’t imagine that historically correlates with success in elections.

The debate and COVID reaction illustrate why I’m voting for Joe Biden and am probably happier to do it than the average person: beyond simply politics, Trump is a corrosive public figure who brings out the worst in everybody on a moral/spiritual level. We shouldn’t be in a position where many of us hope the president dies and eagerly anticipate his funeral (again, I didn’t do this and never would, but I know of people who did). Politics has always been nasty and polarized to a degree, but I’d be surprised if it has ever been this bad when you factor in Fox News, the internet, and Trump’s personal behavior. While obviously Trump and his supporters are the driving source of toxicity, I’m also tired of the hysterical wing of the left, which frantically loses their mind over every action the president does, even when it’s clearly driven only by his own ego/stupidity and not by any kind of political scheming.

Just like many mistake Trump for an effective campaigner because he beat Hillary Clinton one time, they also overrate his ability as a political operative. I keep seeing talk that he could rig the election or refuse to give up power and I just don’t understand how anyone could think Trump is capable of that kind of action. Maybe it is easier to think he’s an expert con-man because it retains some myth of meritocracy, but the reality is that a lot of our country has been duped by a two-bit salesman who is barely aware of his own surroundings. When Trump loses badly, which is where I think this election is going, he’ll probably be annoying and a jackass, but I don’t see any reason to think he’ll be able to keep his grip on power and pull off some kind of coup.

So, I’m looking forward to this Election Day because it’ll be satisfying to see Trump lose and to have a hand in throwing him out of office. I strongly encourage others to do the same, though I understand that nobody enjoys being told who to vote for and this is a sore subject for many leftists. Biden isn’t perfect by any means, but I still don’t think there’s ever been a bigger difference between the two candidates and this will likely be the easiest vote of my entire life. I’m struggling to see how this decision is difficult for others, especially if you purport to care at all about other people, but I guess that’s their business — I’m not going to try to sway anyone politically since I know it’s a waste of time.

It’s possible I’m too much of a realist and don’t have big enough expectations for politicians. I don’t see voting as some grand act of democracy where the candidate needs to “earn” my vote with policies I 100% agree with. I’m going to drive to a local high school, fill out some bubbles for the candidates I think are the least ruinous, get a sticker, and then move on with the rest of my day. I’m not signing my soul over to Joe Biden, or even showing complete approval of him. But in the unideal world we live in where the majority of people clearly don’t share a lot of my political views, I’m fine making a simple and obvious altruistic choice. A Biden win won’t fix everything, or probably even most things, but it’ll certainly make day-to-day life better than it is right now for the vast majority of people.

Election Update: Joe Biden is an Electoral Genius

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.

Actually, Trump is Pretty Easy to Beat

I watched the last democratic debate on Wednesday night and one of the subjects brought up over and over by every candidate was “we need to choose a candidate who can beat Donald Trump,” with each making their own case for why they’re that person. The way each candidate talked was in line with how most liberals I know (or follow on Twitter) seem to view this upcoming election, as a very difficult one against a candidate who is uniquely hard to defeat. It’s easy to understand why they feel this way: we all got cocky last election thinking Trump had no chance, he seemed immune to scandals or deficiencies that would sink other candidates, and of course, he won and is now an incumbent. But increasingly I think people fundamentally misunderstand what happened last election and as a result are underrating the chances of the democratic nominee, regardless of who it is.

My belief in this is primarily rooted in one idea: that Hillary Clinton was possibly the worst presidential candidate in American history. This has nothing to do with my own beliefs or feelings about her but is instead a conclusion that I think can be reached by clearly looking at facts. Clinton had never shown a particular knack for winning elections and was essentially gifted the Democratic nomination because it was “her turn.” The first sign she might not be a great candidate was when relative unknown Bernie Sanders put a huge dent in her campaign. Hillary had spent years in the public eye being a polarizing political figure, and whether it’s fair or not, people just don’t really like Hillary, as evidenced by her consistently low favorability ratings.

Despite Hillary being uniquely bad, Trump’s victory required a wide confluence of fortunate events. Hillary was a heavy favorite in the days leading up to the election until the infamous Comey letter gradually swung the odds until Trump was (if I remember correctly) about 30-40 percent to win on Election Day according to FiveThirtyEight. Even with the letter (and Russia and sexism if you want to fold in those factors), Trump won by very narrowly defeating Clinton in three swing states while losing the popular vote, and my guess is if you simulated that Election Day a million times he probably wins less than 50 percent of the time.

In addition to that evidence, there’s just the reality that all of us witnessed Trump bumble his way through the campaign, beat a clown car of incompetent Republican frontrunners in the GOP primary, run into a constant string of scandals, and get crushed in every debate by a not particularly great debater. Of course, he has a base of people who like him and Republicans who will put up with him, but that isn’t enough people to turn him into an electoral powerhouse. Now running as an incumbent, he doesn’t have that “let’s burn this whole system down” angle supporting him, but instead will be forced to defend the status quo of his own presidency, which rates as highly unpopular in every poll, putting him in the same company as past incumbent losers like Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

Every potential democratic nominee (except for Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg, who objectively suck) will likely be favored over Trump in a general election. People my age don’t really like Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar much, but they’re each skilled politicians who know how to win elections and are generally liked. Bernie Sanders, the current frontrunner, has consistently high favorability ratings, is pretty much scandal-free (outside of media-created pseudo-scandals like “Bernie Bros” and concern over his age), and has an enthusiastic base with a message that emotionally resonates with a wide range of people. Elizabeth Warren could potentially unite those two sides of the party, winning over some of the less extreme Bernie supporters while also appealing to moderates and independents. Regardless of your own leanings, it seems really obvious to me that these choices are far better than Hillary Clinton, who was widely hated and only created enthusiasm among those weird people on Twitter who thought she was Daenarys Targaryen or something.

And note that this is coming from me, someone who is cynical to a fault and has essentially no faith in humanity to ever do the right thing. I’m fully aware that the majority of voters just pick who they like most in a very lizard-brained way. That’s part of why I think one of the popular democratic nominees, especially someone like Sanders who has likability and authenticity, is likely to win over a widely despised incumbent. Basically, I don’t think Trump is an effective campaigner just because he barely won one election against a horrible candidate, and this time he will face a much stronger candidate in a far less favorable context. This doesn’t mean it will literally be an easy campaign or that he can’t possibly win again, but other than PTSD or Russia conspiracy theories, there is no real reason for liberals to be so scared of this guy. Right now, the biggest thing liberals need to overcome is their own defeatist mentality.